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Page URL: https://practice.orangatamariki.govt.nz/our-work/assessment-and-planning/assessments/intake-and-early-assessment/
Printed: 19/05/2024
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Last updated: 12/09/2023

Intake and early assessment

Assessment is an ongoing process of building understanding to inform whānau or family and professional decision-making. Following a report of concern we build understanding across 3 phases, as needed – initial, core and full assessment.

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

Responding to a report of concern

A report of concern is made when a member of the public or a community, a professional or whānau or family 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 received or gathered in order to inform the decision specific to that phase of the assessment. This includes all forms of information, including visual information such as photos.

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 Tūmoana, the Māori cultural framework and mana tamaiti practice guidance provide key resources to support your assessment.

Practice for working effectively with Māori

Working with Māori: Te Toka Tūmoana

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. 

Working with Pacific peoples: Va'aifetū

Engagement is critical throughout our assessment

Effective engagement with te tamaiti and their whānau or family is critical throughout the assessment process, particularly during the core and full assessment phases. We work with te tamaiti and their whānau or family to understand their risks, needs, strengths and challenges. Remember:

  • Each whānau or family and their circumstances are different. Take time to consider what makes this whānau or family 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 Tūmoana 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 whānau or family 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.

Working with Māori: Te Toka Tūmoana

Working with Pacific peoples: Va'aifetū

Practice standard: See and engage tamariki

Practice standard: See and engage whānau, wider family, caregivers and when appropriate victims of offending by tamariki

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 whānau or family, 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.

Practice standard: Use professional supervision

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 whānau or family, 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.

Child/young person and family consult