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Page URL: https://practice.orangatamariki.govt.nz/our-work/assessment-and-planning/assessments/assessment-for-tamariki-and-rangatahi-in-care/assessing-the-frequency-of-visits-to-tamariki-in-care/
Printed: 19/05/2024
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Last updated: 12/06/2020

Assessing the frequency of visits to tamariki in care

The needs of te tamaiti will determine how frequently they are visited by their social worker while in care.

Upcoming changes for this guidance

This content will be strengthened so it more completely reflects our commitment to practice framed by te Tiriti o Waitangi, based on a mana-enhancing paradigm for practice, and drawing from ​Te Ao Māori principles of oranga to support mana tamaiti, whakapapa and whanaungatanga. We each need to consider how we can apply these principles to our practice when reading this guidance. The following resources provide support:
Practice for working effectively with Māori
Our practice approach

Why we visit tamariki

A key focus of visiting te tamaiti is to understand how the plan is progressing, including:

  • what things are going well for te tamaiti
  • any concerns te tamaiti may have
  • discussing things that are important to te tamaiti
  • assessing whether the situation for them has changed and what may need to occur as a result
  • progress with the All About Me plan for te tamaiti

Policy: Visiting and engaging with tamariki in care

Determining how often te tamaiti needs to be visited

As part of the assessment for tamariki in care, there’s a need to assess how frequently te tamaiti needs to be visited. The purpose of visiting te tamaiti is outlined in the visiting tamariki in care policy.

Policy: Visiting and engaging with tamariki in care

How often te tamaiti is visited is based on the needs of te tamaiti and we need to consider:

  • their views and wishes
  • how events in their lives are impacting on them
  • the level of attachment and connections they have with other significant people in their lives.

For some tamariki these visits may be much more frequent at particular times in their lives and for others, particularly those in settled placements with strong relationships with others, a visit by a social worker may not be required as often.

Situations where visits may be required more frequently include:

  • where the social worker does not yet have a well-established relationship with te tamaiti
  • when the placement is new and te tamaiti is still settling in to their new living situation
  • where te tamaiti is feeling unsettled and in need of support at key transitions in their lives.

Situations where visits may not be needed as frequently could include:

  • te tamaiti is well established in their caregiver’s whānau or family
  • the needs of te tamaiti are being met
  • te tamaiti is strongly attached to their wider whānau or family and they themselves do not want the intrusion of a social worker in their lives.

Sometimes there may be a need to engage with them frequently over a short period of time. This is likely to be when circumstances surrounding te tamaiti change unexpectedly or their risk increases or the plan is not effective in meeting their needs, for example:

  • an increased risk of suicide or self-harm
  • non-attendance at school
  • a change in placement or caregiver
  • a traumatic event occurs in the life of te tamaiti, their whānau or family or care giving family
  • services identified in a plan are not able to be secured, or
  • an allegation of abuse or harm requiring investigation.

If the circumstances for te tamaiti change or their needs escalate quickly it's appropriate that the social worker engages with them more frequently without completing a full reassessment of their needs.

During these visits continue to consider whether the frequency is meeting their needs. However, once the situation stabilises or the issue is resolved, a reassessment of their needs for visiting should be completed, taking into account the recent events, and involving the views of te tamaiti and significant others.

The agreed frequency of visiting can not be reduced without a formal re-assessment of needs, and the involvement of te tamaiti, whānau or family and others involved in their life.

When tamariki return home after a period of time in care

When tamariki return home after a period of time in care, the caring for children and young people policy requires that they are visited at least once a week for the first four weeks of their return. Visiting frequency will not be reduced until the post-return home meeting has been held. The needs of te tamaiti will then determine the frequency of ongoing visiting.

Policy: Transitions within care

The views and wishes of te tamaiti

It’s important that the views and wishes of te tamaiti are taken into account when determining how often they will be visited, the arrangements and circumstances.

If te tamaiti expresses a view that they don’t wish to be visited regularly this will need to be balanced with the social worker’s assessment of their needs; the social worker will need to explore options for how the visits are undertaken to make it as acceptable to te tamaiti as possible.

Policy: Visiting and engaging with tamariki in care

The views of the whānau or family

Whānau or family will also have an important view of the needs of te tamaiti and how often visiting will support them in their placement and with their All About Me plan.

Seek to understand the views of the whānau or family regarding the needs of te tamaiti and how often they think visiting will be beneficial.

Information regarding the needs of te tamaiti

When determining how often to visit it’s important we consider:

  • the level of safety assessed for te tamaiti – their vulnerability, risk and protective factors
  • what is happening in the life of te tamaiti at the moment, for example whether it’s stable or chaotic, whether there are issues/trauma that need addressing, whether transitions are planned or underway, whether there are concerns about the safety or behaviour of te tamaiti, whether there are any concerns for te tamaiti in their placement
  • how effective the plan is in meeting the needs of te tamaiti
  • what supportive relationships exist for te tamaiti – whether there is an existing network of adults that can provide support/monitoring and guidance, or whether this is a key role the social worker needs to take at this time. What whakapapa and whanaungatanga relationships already exist that might be significant and contribute to wellbeing and monitoring and therefore influence how often we might need to visit
  • how much they understand about what is happening for them and if they need support to have an age-appropriate understanding.

The social workers relationship with te tamaiti and their role in the plan

When determining how often to visit it’s important we consider:

  • if we have built a relationship with te tamaiti so that they know who we are, they know how to contact us, how we will work with them and our role in their lives and how often we need to visit to maintain that relationship in a meaningful way
  • what is required in respect to our role with the plan for te tamaiti and how actively we need to be involved.

The views of the caregiver, caregiver social worker, or care partner

When determining how often to visit it’s important we consider:

  • what level of support and visiting the caregiver feels is needed to support te tamaiti in their care; is there anything happening in the caregiving home that impacts on the need for visiting te tamaiti. In exploring this with the caregiver it will be important to understand ‘why’ the caregiver feels a visit from a social worker is necessary, ensuring that this is focused on the needs of te tamaiti; if the caregiver has additional support needs it may be more appropriate that these are addressed via the caregiver social worker rather than the social worker for te tamaiti
  • the caregiver social worker (CGSW’s), in providing support to caregivers they need to be working closely with the allocated social worker as they assess the support needs of both te tamaiti and the caregiver. The caregiver social worker may have information about the caregiver or circumstances within the caregivers’ home that should also inform the assessment of how frequently te tamaiti needs to be visited.
  • if te tamaiti is placed with a care partner (s396 provider) but still within the care of custody of Oranga Tamariki the views of the care partner and the caregiver caring for te tamaiti will need to be obtained in regards to the needs of te tamaiti and the frequency of visiting required.

The circumstances of the placement

We need to consider the nature of the placement, such as short term (was known as transitional) or permanent, planned or unplanned, along with how recent the placement is and its stability. Remember, if the placement has ‘provisional approval’ under Regulation 51 of the National Care Standards we need to ensure the placement is closely monitored and frequency of visiting is likely to be increased to reflect this. Who te tamaiti is placed with (whānau or family, family home, care partner, residence) may also influence our visiting frequency - for example if te tamaiti is in a residence visiting may be less frequent due to the role of other professionals on a daily basis.

Care standards

Recording your assessment

Your assessment around the frequency of visits needs to be recorded in the Tuituia Report Template. It will also be recorded in the All About Me plan for te tamaiti (including the Tamariki All About Me Plan) and the caregiver support plan. It will be reviewed regularly and updated as circumstances change for te tamaiti.

The rationale for the frequency of visiting, which is approved by a supervisor, is recorded in the supervision phase casenotes.

Policy: Visiting and engaging with tamariki in care

Policy: All About Me plan

All About Me plan to meet the needs of tamariki

Tamariki All About Me plan — child-friendly version

Policy: Caregiver support