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Page URL: https://practice.orangatamariki.govt.nz/our-work/care/caregivers/support-for-caregivers/preparing-to-be-a-caregiver-or-adoptive-parent/
Printed: 18/07/2024
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Last updated: 22/11/2019

Preparing to be a caregiver or adoptive parent

Preparing to be a caregiver or adoptive parent is an important step and includes attending an information session and preparation programmes.

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

Attending an information session

People who express an interest in caregiving or adoption are invited to attend an Exploring Care information session to learn about what's involved. People can contact us to be invited.

Phone: 0508 CARERS (free within NZ)

The group information sessions run frequently to meet local demand. 

A group setting helps applicants to ask questions freely, hear others ask questions and meet others considering caregiving or adoption.

In some situations, for example if people live in a rural area, the information session may be run on a one-to-one basis.

We should give participants an application pack and an Exploring Care workbook by the end of the information session.

Applying to be a caregiver or adoptive parent — forms

Exploring Care workbook (PDF 9.1 MB)

We should also have factsheets available at the session, including the intercountry adoption factsheets.

Chile intercountry adoption factsheet (PDF 179 KB)

Hong Kong intercountry adoption factsheet (PDF 173 KB)

India intercountry adoption factsheet (PDF 211 KB)

Lithuania intercountry adoption factsheet (PDF 94 KB)

Philippines intercountry adoption factsheet (PDF 275 KB)

Thailand intercountry adoption factsheet (PDF 115 KB)

What the information session covers

The information session covers:

  • a review of the tamariki needing care and the role of caregivers and adoptive parents
  • assessing for types of care.

Exploring Care presentation (PPTX 16 MB)

Exploring Care workbook (PDF 9.1 MB)

The tamariki and looking after tamariki in care

The aim is to:

  • widen the view of who needs care
  • consider pre-conceived views
  • explore commonly held thoughts on parenting by caregivers and adoptive parents.

Various scenarios about tamariki needing care are presented and explored. These will help participants to consider the effects of abuse, neglect and trauma that tamariki may have experienced. 

Participants will:

  • receive information about situations where tamariki need to come into care, and the types and levels of care available
  • explore commonly held ideas associated with parenting tamariki in care.

Assessment for types of care

The aim is to:

  • help applicants understand the process
  • introduce the concepts that will be further explored in the Ways to Care preparation programme.

The similarities and differences of types of care will be highlighted.

Participants will:

  • hear about the application process and requirements for those wanting to move to the next step
  • hear about the key roles to consider when caring for tamariki and rangatahi and the support available to them.

Ways to Care preparation programme

Once applicants have returned their application they must attend the 2-day Ways to Care preparation programme. 

Applying to be a caregiver or adoptive parent

What the Ways to Care preparation programme covers

The programme covers:

  • te tamaiti, such as brain development, attachment, separation and loss
  • the birth whānau or family, such as discussing the importance of whānau or family with te tamaiti
  • the applicant, such as reflecting on what influences their own behaviour and relationships, and practising responding to te tamaiti
  • Oranga Tamariki as an organisation, such as guiding principles and understanding types of care.

By the end of the programme applicants can:

  • describe some of the significant relationships they had as a tamaiti
  • explain the 4 core principles of brain development
  • describe and recognise the 4 different types of attachment
  • describe how a tamaiti might react for each attachment type
  • discuss the effects of separation and loss
  • explain the effects of many placements
  • discuss the effects of trauma from abuse and neglect on the internal working model of a tamaiti
  • discuss the circumstances of parents and whānau or family whose tamariki are in care or given for adoption
  • discuss the importance of birth whānau or family to a tamaiti
  • reflect on how their own internal working model began as a tamaiti and how it influences their behaviour and relationships
  • discuss adult attachment styles and how each style reflects in parenting
  • discuss providing a well-rounded parenting approach
  • ask questions of current caregivers and adoptive parents
  • practise responding sensitively to a tamaiti
  • explain the guiding principles of Oranga Tamariki
  • walk through the journey of a tamaiti in care
  • understand the difference between types of care
  • appreciate the importance of working collaboratively to achieve the best outcome for te tamaiti.

Safe Caring programme

Before caregivers are approved to become caregivers or adoptive parents they must attend the Safe Caring programme.

Safe Caring is a 1 day programme aimed at helping applicants understand how to provide safe care to tamariki.

The programme explores the role, rights and responsibilities of caregivers and how they might ensure placements are safe and rewarding for te tamaiti, as well as themselves.

By the end of the programme, participants can:

  • identify the key roles and responsibilities in relation to safety, rights and legal obligations
  • identify the key relationships in providing care and how these provide support
  • explain the differences between custody and guardianship
  • identify some household expectations and routines that need to be discussed with te tamaiti in their care
  • state the benefits of keeping a diary and a life book
  • describe the difference between an allegation and a complaint
  • understand the reasons why tamariki and their whānau or family make complaints
  • develop strategies on how to keep themselves and their whānau or family safe
  • create an environment that provides a secure base for te tamaiti
  • practise how to look behind the behaviour and respond sensitively
  • recognise and explain how they contribute to the 'all about me' care information for te tamaiti
  • identify a caregiver support network.

If applicants need to attend the intercountry adoption course

All applicants who wish to adopt from overseas will attend the 1 day intercountry adoption training workshop after they've attended the Ways to Care preparation programme.

The facilitator resources are available on myLearn and the participant workbook can also be ordered via myLearn.

By the end of this course participants will:

  • explore the impact of early life experiences of the adopted tamaiti have had on their development
  • explore building the new relationship with te tamaiti
  • reflect on the overwhelming culture change for te tamiti once they're in New Zealand and what this means for their cultural identity
  • explore how they can sensitively meet the needs of the adopted  tamaiti.

Course sessions

Beginning the relationship

This session reviews the attachment information presented in the Ways to Care preparation programme and explores it in the context of the impact institutional care will have on the development and identity of a tamaiti.

Applicants identify attachment, acculturation, and social integration needs of te tamaiti using realistic intercountry adoption senarios.

They are then prompted to consider how they can begin to build a relationship with the child.

Cultural identity

Understanding culture in its widest sense will strengthen an adoptive parent's ability to build a secure base for te tamaiti.

This session explores culture by taking 2 different approaches.

Applicants are encouraged to:

  • appreciate the ways culture is part of life and identity, and
  • form a realistic view of the cultural losses faced by the child and their ability to meet those needs.

The session challenges applicants to reflect on how society affirms or denies cultural differences.

Reciprocal and responsive relationships

Through the use of scenarios participants explore how the experiences of institutional care, early abuse or neglect may come out in daily life once the adoption has taken place.

This session expands on the work in the Ways to Care preparation programme including:

  • exploring adult attachment patterns and internal working models
  • developing an understanding of the interrelationship of their feelings and thoughts and those of te tamaiti
  • the notion that te tamaiti has an active role in the creation of the relationship rather than being just a receiver of attention.

When applicants have completed all the training

When applicants have completed all the training relevant to their application, they're asked to tell their site contact if they wish to go forward with the final assessment.

They can do this either verbally or in writing.

The site contact will record on CYRAS the step of 'confirm proceed to final assessment'.

If applicants decide not to proceed with their application the file will be closed.

An explanatory case note about the reasons for closure is entered on CYRAS, which includes comments about their participation in the preparation programmes. 

Assessing and approving caregivers and adoptive parents