Responding to a report of concern
A report of concern is made when a member of the public or a community, a professional or family/whānau has a concern for a tamaiti and they share their concern with Oranga Tamariki. It is the role of Oranga Tamariki to:
- consider the concern
- determine the appropriate response for te tamaiti and their whānau
- complete an assessment appropriate to the level of concern
- put in place the support or intervention that te tamaiti and their whānau require if necessary.
3 phases of the assessment process
While assessment is an ongoing process, there are 3 phases of the assessment process that responds to reports of concern:
There are key decision points across the 3 phases of assessment which determine the purpose of assessment at each phase and decision-making about whether the following phase of assessment is required. Each phase of the assessment builds on information previously gathered in order to inform the decision specific to that phase of the assessment. The depth and breadth of the assessment depends on the:
- purpose of assessment
- nature of the concerns
- unique circumstances of each tamaiti in the context of their whānau or family group
- context of our engagement with them.
Practice for working effectively with Māori
For quality assessments that are effective when working with tamariki and rangatahi Māori we must have regard to mana tamaiti (tamariki), their whakapapa and the whanaungatanga responsibilities of their whānau, hapū and iwi. As part of a suite of Māori practice resources, Te Toka Tumoana, the Māori cultural framework and mana tamaiti practice guidance provide key resources to support your assessment.
Practice for working effectively with Pacific
For Pacific children, the Va'aifetū cultural practice framework and principles must be applied when undertaking an assessment of their needs and vulnerabilities, strengths and opportunities.
Each Pacific nation has a unique culture, identity, language and set of customs and cultural practices that are central to their identity. Using the relevant cultural framework for the child and family will support you to respond to their unique cultural reality, and enhance your engagement, understanding and response to the identified needs or concerns.
Engagement is critical throughout our assessment
Effective engagement with te tamaiti and their family/whānau is critical throughout the assessment process, particularly during the core and full assessment phases. We work with te tamaiti and their family/whānau to understand their risks, needs, strengths and challenges. Remember:
- Each family/whānau and their circumstances are different. Take time to consider what makes this family/whānau unique and how your approach with them will support effective engagement. Families and whānau are diverse and require responsive solutions and reflective social work practices.
- Involve your kairaranga ā-whānau or get specialist Māori advice to support understanding and engagement with tamariki and whānau Māori.
- Use cultural frameworks (Te Toka Tumoana and Va'aifetū) and consultation to support understanding for tamariki and whānau Māori and Pacific children and families.
- Be sensitive to particular needs and consider whether assistance or support is required – for example, where te tamaiti or a family/whānau member has a disability, where English is a second language, where cultural diversity may affect engagement or where religious beliefs are significant to the assessment.
Use professional supervision to support and challenge your practice
Supervision is a critical part of your practice. It is the primary mechanism for ensuring effective oversight and to help you think critically about the circumstances for te tamaiti. Supervision should provide a forum for you to share and reflectively explore your developing understanding of te tamaiti and their family/whānau, to think about how you are making sense of complex information and to test your assumptions, and any bias influencing your assessment and decision-making.
Supervision will also support and build your effectiveness in responding to the cultural diversity of the tamariki and whānau we are working with.
Use the child and family consult to inform robust analysis and decision-making
The child and family consult helps structure your thinking about what you understand is happening in the family/whānau, and helps you identify and consider areas of need and harm, alongside safety and strengths. Use the child and family consult throughout the assessment process to focus your assessment, to explore the information you have gathered and to understand what it means for the safety and wellbeing of te tamaiti both now and into the future.