What is a child and family assessment or investigation
The child and family assessment and investigation:
- assesses the safety of te tamaiti
- identifies strengths in te tamaiti, their parents and family/whānau and environment
- identifies unmet needs that contribute to potential harm for te tamaiti
- identifies care or protection needs that if addressed could reduce or eliminate the risk of harm to te tamaiti
- identifies services that could address these needs either during or after the assessment.
When to undertake a child and family assessment
We undertake a child and family assessment when the report of concern involves an allegation that the care, safety or wellbeing of te tamaiti may be at risk, but doesn't indicate abuse that may constitute a criminal offence.
When to undertake an investigation
We undertake an investigation instead of an assessment when the report of concern indicates abuse that may constitute a criminal offence.
The process is the same as for a child and family assessment, but we work in consultation with the Police and follow the Child Protection Protocol. We may also need to refer te tamaiti for a specialist child interview.
Conducting the child and family assessment or investigation
The child and family assessment or investigation follows the same process as any assessment with a few extra steps.
1 Assess safety and risk
Your first step is to establish the immediate safety of te tamaiti. After you've met with te tamaiti and their family/whānau, complete the safety and risk screen. You must follow the agreed decision response timeframe.
Tool: Safety and risk screen
The safety and risk screen identifies if there are concerns that warrant immediate action by Oranga Tamariki to secure the safety of te tamaiti.
2 Consult with the Care and Protection Resource Panel
We must consult with the Care and Protection Resource Panel as soon as practical to make sure our planned approach is thorough. The timing should align with the decision response timeframe.
3 Conduct the assessment
Follow the usual process to plan your assessment, gather and analyse information, and record your findings.
Tool: Child/young person and family consult
The consult must be used during the child and family assessment or investigation to inform the analysis and next steps.
4 Record a finding
If our assessment found evidence of abuse, we record that as a finding.
You can record more than one finding for a tamaiti if this is appropriate. If we didn't establish there had been abuse, we record the finding as "not found".
Specifying findings helps us to:
- identify and put in place an intervention that will support the best possible outcomes for te tamaiti
- understand the overall rates of child abuse in our community
- influence practice developments and service provision.
Forming or not forming a belief
Our recorded finding helps us to form a belief about whether te tamaiti is in need of care and protection.
We can still have a finding of abuse without forming a belief, eg if we find abuse has occurred but we know te tamaiti is safe because the perpetrator has no ongoing access to them.
5 Timeframes and next steps
We must complete the child and family assessment or investigation within:
- 36 working days for tamariki under five years old
- 43 working days for tamariki who are five or older.
Once your completed Tuituia report has been approved by a supervisor, the child and family assessment or investigation is complete.
Our next steps could be:
- no further action
- an intervention — a family/whānau agreement, family group conference, going to court or entering care.
If our finding was "not found"
If our assessment didn't establish a finding of abuse but we believe there are needs and risks which could develop into future care and protection concerns, we may still decide to develop a plan with the family/whanau.