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Page URL: https://practice.orangatamariki.govt.nz/our-work/care/caregivers/assessing-and-approving-caregivers-and-adoptive-parents/caregiver-and-adoption-assessment-framework/
Printed: 14/06/2024
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Last updated: 10/11/2020

Caregiver and adoption assessment framework

The framework supports safe, emotionally secure and effective parenting. Use the framework to assess an applicant's ability to meet the needs of a tamaiti.

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

What is the caregiver and adoption assessment framework

The assessment of caregiver and adoption applicants focuses on their capability and capacity to nurture and develop the wellbeing of tamariki.

The capability and capacity of the applicants are matched against the unique needs of te tamaiti.

The framework is made up of 6 core attributes that te tamaiti may need:

  • Safety.
  • Attachment.
  • Resilience.
  • Identity.
  • Integrity.
  • Support. 

These are consistent with the elements in the Kaitiaki Mokopuna component of the Tuituia assessment framework.

If a caregiver assessment is being undertaken for a specific tamaiti, the Tuituia assessment framework is used to assess the needs, strengths and risks for the tamaiti.

Tuituia framework and tools

You should think about what you specifically need to see or hear from the applicants that will demonstrate they can meet the needs of a tamaiti.

The 6 core attributes


Tamariki need to be and feel safe — developing a sense of safety for a tamaiti in a new environment is important. They should be protected from harm or danger and have their fundamental right to education, health, warmth, care and security provided for.

Adults who can give a safe and secure environment have the physical, mental, emotional, cultural, spiritual and intellectual capabilities to undertake the demands of active parenthood.

You should look for the applicant’s capability and capacity to:

  • provide a warm, safe physical environment, appropriate space and sleeping arrangements for any tamaiti in care
  • provide a standard of care which promotes healthy emotional, physical, cultural, spiritual, sexual and intellectual development
  • demonstrate knowledge of tamaiti development and the impact of trauma and abuse on te tamaiti
  • connect with te tamaiti and understand where behaviour is coming from — they should set appropriate boundaries and provide positive behaviour support without the use of physical or inappropriate punishment
  • help te tamaiti keep themselves safe from abuse or neglect, including seeking out help if their safety is threatened
  • work with professionals and whānau or family to contribute to and carry out the plan for te tamaiti
  • understand the impact of their own upbringing on their own attitudes, behaviour and parenting style, including cultural and religious upbringing and current relationships with their own whānau or family.


An attachment relationship creates a secure base for tamariki and can help them safely explore the world. The securely attached tamaiti is able to achieve trust, express their needs and be party to mutual and cooperative relationships.

Adults who can form a secure attachment are emotionally available and dependable.

You should look for the applicant’s capability and capacity to:

  • form enduring and trusting relationships with others
  • accept te tamaiti as they are and provide care appropriate to their particular needs
  • offer a secure attachment to te tamaiti by being emotionally available, predictable and dependable
  • listen to, and communicate with te temaiti in ways that are appropriate to their emotional age and understanding
  • hold realistic expectations about te tamaiti joining their whānau or family
  • articulate their own attachment experience
  • understand the role and importance of attachment for themselves and for tamariki who may be in their care.


Providing opportunities for tamariki to develop resilience is vital. This will help them to successfully navigate challenges and opportunities, access resources and apply problem solving skills.

Tamariki need to be and feel affirmed and have opportunities to express their talents and skills with a sense of capability and self-assurance.

Resilience for tamariki is influenced by protective factors in whānau or family, schools and communities.

Adults can help tamariki by role modelling effective strategies to deal with life events. They can help tamariki develop a sense of belonging through:

  • cultural and identity connections
  • stable trusting relationships, and
  • positive engagement in school and community activities.

You should look for the applicant’s capability and capacity to:

  • think and act for themselves with genuine confidence and respect for others
  • be realistic and acknowledge their strengths and vulnerabilities
  • create a sense of belonging
  • create social, cultural and community connections
  • demonstrate their own resilience and resourcefulness when faced with challenging situations and identify positive influences which help them cope
  • positively accommodate change in their lives and compromise in order to meet the needs of others
  • access resources and attend training opportunities to improve their skills
  • offer opportunities to promote the strengths, interests, confidence and social skills of tamariki
  • keep alive the personal story and whakapapa of te tamaiti and be sensitive and responsive in their ways of managing this
  • promote equality, diversity and the rights of individuals in society.


An integrated and healthy sense of self and wellbeing is important to the healthy emotional development of tamariki. They need to feel able to discuss matters relating to their life with their caregivers or adoptive parents.

Adults who are prepared and informed to care for a tamaiti not born to them have respect for the identity of te tamaiti and are able to recognise the impact of separation.

You should look for the applicant’s capability and capacity to:

  • articulate their own experience of culture in its broadest sense
  • understand, accept and respect the identity of a tamaiti and understand the enduring importance of their birth whānau or family, hapū, iwi, and heritage
  • be sensitive to the ongoing effects on te tamaiti of being in care
  • apply the concept of separation and loss to themselves and to te tamaiti in their care
  • understand and meet te tamaiti in relation to their whānau or family and past history, and talk with te tamaiti about their past experiences in a non-judgemental way
  • promote a sense of identity and belonging for te tamaiti to help them integrate their sense of self
  • work closely to promote contact between te tamaiti, their whānau or family and others who are important to them
  • embrace difference and cultural diversity in society
  • affirm and support the ethnic, cultural and religious identity of te tamaiti.


A tamaiti surrounded by appropriate role models can learn the values and behaviour that will enable them to contribute positively to society.

Adults with integrity are honest and law abiding, engage in self-development, are respectful of themselves and of others and are able to model healthy conflict resolution.

You should look for the applicant’s capability and capacity to:

  • provide a tamaiti-centred reason for their application
  • demonstrate they're an honest and law abiding citizen and can be an appropriate role model for te tamaiti
  • reflect on their own actions and take responsibility for them
  • demonstrate an awareness of their own values, beliefs and traditions that inform their lives
  • be respectful of themselves, of others and of differences in society
  • sustain positive relationships and maintain effective functioning during stressful periods
  • demonstrate healthy conflict resolution skills within their whānau or family and friendship group
  • engage in self-development and participate in society in a positive way
  • keep information about te tamaiti private and understand the reasons for doing so.


Tamariki thrive best when they are part of a family that is supported by a group of extended whānau or family, friends and community organisations. They benefit from these supports in their daily life and feel a sense of community belonging.

Adults who have a place in a network of whānau or family, social relationships and community resources can call on practical support to assist with raising te tamaiti. Te tamaiti is socially integrated and has their needs met by these sources of support.

You should look for the applicant’s capability and capacity to:

  • understand their own strengths and needs, where they may require support
  • appreciate how personal experiences have affected themselves and their whānau or family
  • understand the dynamics that te tamaiti may bring with them to the placement and consider how they will manage this
  • understand the impact of caring for another tamaiti on them and their whānau or family
  • ask for support when necessary
  • use training opportunities to improve and develop their skills
  • work closely as part of a team with te tamaiti, their whānau or family, and other professionals.

Attributes to consider for the different types of care

Providing care across a lifetime can be very different from providing care in a respite or short-term placement. Approach the assessment considering the specific type of care the applicants are being assessed for, while always keeping te tamaiti at the centre.

Types of care

Attributes to consider

Respite care

Applicants should:

  • have space in the whānau or family schedule to include another tamaiti
  • have the ability to build a relationship with a tamaiti over time
  • have the ability to work with the primary caregiver and become part of their support network.

Additional considerations for respite care when the applicant is within the whānau or natural network of te tamaiti:

  • When planning the assessment of a whānau member or other person known to te tamaiti, consider the strength of the existing relationship they have with te tamaiti, including the views of te tamaiti (age appropriate).
  • The depth of our assessment should consider the existing established relationship. This might mean that some areas of our assessment will need more or less depth of exploration to provide good analysis – discuss and plan with your supervisor.
  • Consider how well the respite caregiver already knows te tamaiti and how they have previously demonstrated an ability to meet the needs of te tamaiti.
  • Consider the potential shift in the dynamics of the relationship between the respite caregiver and te tamaiti, and importantly how the respite arrangement will meet the needs of te tamaiti and support their connection and sense of belonging.
  • Reflect in the assessment how the new respite arrangement will support the primary caregiving whānau and how the relationships will work between the two caregiving whānau to support the wellbeing and connection needs of te tamaiti.

Short-term care (was known as transitional care) and family home care

Applicants should:

  • have the ability to be ‘the bridge for te tamaiti to help them move to where they will live permanently
  • work as part of the team with other professionals to achieve the goal
  • have an understanding of the impact tamariki new to their home might have on their own whānau or family dynamics
  • have a realistic appreciation of the demands of parenting a tamaiti in care.

Permanent care and domestic adoption

Applicants should:

  • have the ability to sustain a relationship with te tamaiti throughout their life
  • have the ability to help te tamaiti develop their identity and senses of self, as part of two families
  • be sensitive and responsive to contact with the birth parents and wider whānau or family, and have the ability to sustain these relationships over time
  • be secure in their own parenting role to te tamaiti where guardianship might be shared
  • have the financial resources to support te tamaiti through to adulthood.

Inter-country adoption

Applicants should:

  • have the ability to sustain a relationship with te tamaiti throughout their life
  • have a realistic appreciation of the demands of parenting te tamaiti who has come to them from another country
  • be responsive to the needs of te tamaiti to claim their cultural identity and able to inform te tamaiti about their story over time
  • have the financial resources to support te tamaiti through to adulthood.