What this guidance covers
This guidance supports the care arrangement policy for tamariki or rangatahi and their whānau or family when they are moving into or are already in the care or custody of the Oranga Tamariki chief executive to ensure we provide a care arrangement for them that maintains mana tamaiti, whakapapa and whanaungatanga.
Every effort should be made for te tamaiti or rangatahi, and their siblings where appropriate, to be living with a member of their wider family, whānau, hapū, iwi or family group who is able to meet their needs.
Our practice is required to meet the National Care Standards and we are monitored on our compliance with these.
Who this guidance applies to
This guidance applies to all tamariki or rangatahi who are in the care or custody of the Oranga Tamariki chief executive and placed with an Oranga Tamariki caregiver.
This guidance does not apply for those tamariki or rangatahi who are placed with a child and family support service or iwi group and those:
- no longer in the care or custody of the Oranga Tamariki chief executive but who are living with a caregiver under a Living Arrangement (entitlement to remain or return – ETRR)
- living in the care of a care partner
- in a care or protection or youth justice residence, supervised group home, remand home or other community home
- on bail.
Maintaining relationships and connections to family, whānau, hapū, iwi and family group, community and people and places of significance is central to the care plan of tamariki and rangatahi who are in the custody of Oranga Tamariki.
We always work towards a return home but if te tamaiti or rangatahi cannot remain in their usual home and a different care arrangement is required, we should first explore an alternative care situation with family, whānau, hapū, iwi and their community.
Our social work practice with all tamariki and rangatahi is relational, inclusive and restorative. We work collaboratively with all whānau or family and their wider community to meet the need for safety and stability for all tamariki and rangatahi. Our practice approach means that no tamaiti or rangatahi can be seen in isolation from their whānau or family and we recognise and respect the different values and beliefs that whānau and family hold.
Rights of tamariki, rangatahi and whānau or family
United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
Each of the articles in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRoC) is subject to 4 guiding principles:
- UNCRoC prohibits discrimination of any kind.
- The best interests of te tamaiti or rangatahi should govern all decisions relating to tamariki or rangatahi – for indigenous tamariki or rangatahi, this must consider their collective cultural rights.
- Te tamaiti or rangatahi has the right to life and states must do all that they can to ensure the survival and development of te tamaiti or rangatahi. For the high numbers of tamariki or rangatahi Māori in custody, this must be addressed, and culturally appropriate material assistance and support programmes provided to parents and others to ensure resources to maintain or return tamariki and rangatahi to the care of their parents and whānau are available.
- Te tamaiti or rangatahi has a right to be heard in all proceedings affecting them. They have an individual right to express their opinion, and tamariki or rangatahi as a societal group must be heard. The state must design special strategies to ensure the voices of indigenous tamariki or rangatahi are heard.
These principles require social workers to practise in ways that enable, empower and ensure ngākau whakairo sits at the centre of their relationship with te tamaiti or rangatahi in care.
Within the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989, the principles in sections 5(iii) and (iv) and 13(2)(i)(iii) need to be applied, reinforcing the right of te tamaiti or rangatahi to have a safe, stable and loving home environment that recognises and preferences whānau, family, hapū and iwi in providing care for them and any siblings.
The National Care Standards set out the requirement for a needs assessment which includes the specific requirement to assess identity and cultural needs and maintaining connections to whānau, family, hapū and iwi and family group.
The primary responsibility for caring for and nurturing the wellbeing and development of te tamaiti or rangatahi lies with their family, whānau, hapū, iwi, family group and community.
When a whānau or family say they are not interested in their cultural history or have no connections to it, or don't want to have contact with significant people and places, be respectful in exploring the reasons for their choices. Some make these decisions because their history is painful and traumatic.
The impact of government services on whānau or family has been significant, and many don't trust what for them has been a colonising system that has caused significant loss and pain.
We consider how we will work with whānau or family and the caregivers to achieve stability and build relationships that can support tamariki and rangatahi to flourish and thrive.
We consult with kairaranga ā-whānau, Māori specialist roles and cultural advisors for suggestions about ways to sensitively work through this journey that whānau or family are on.
All information related to whakapapa needs to be treated with respect.
Working with tamariki, rangatahi and whānau Māori
Tiaki mokopuna is a principle that speaks to the roles, responsibilities and obligations to make safe, care for, support and protect our tamariki and rangatahi within their extended whakapapa structures – whānau, hapū and iwi.
Consider how this new care arrangement will support, build and maintain relationships with whānau, wide whanaungatanga connections and important places and events.
Build visits to significant places into the All About Me plan and encourage participation in activities that reinforce these connections.
Ensure there are photos and mementoes that record these activities and that these are kept safely and stay with te tamaiti or rangatahi throughout their journey.
Kairaranga ā-whānau are specialist Māori roles that are an integral support to ensure we are connecting with the right people and have information that enables connections to wider whānau, hapū and iwi and community resources and supports.
Kairaranga ā-whānau help explore whakapapa and whanaungatanga connections.
If we have not already done so, a thorough search for family, whānau, hapū, iwi and family group is undertaken and documented as soon as we are considering a care arrangement for te tamaiti or rangatahi. This will include exploration of whakapapa, including identifying and verifying hapū and iwi connections and people and places of significance.
We involve our kairaranga ā-whānau or appropriate cultural advisor to ensure the right people are involved and there is a collaborative approach with whānau or family to identify a new living situation.
Tikanga are the unique and diverse Māori processes that provide balance, stability and safety to uphold the mana of everyone through processes and practices that facilitate and reflect safe engagement.
We support this by creating safe environments that champion the voices and aspirations of whānau using Māori cultural processes and practices by:
- reflecting tika (correctness), pono (faith/truth) and aroha (genuine empathy in our customary practices)
- having an awareness of when and how to use cultural processes and practices of engagement with tamariki or rangatahi, whānau, hapū and iwi such as using karakia, waiata and whakataukī appropriately
- identifying appropriate tikanga that supports tamariki, rangatahi and whānau or family oranga (wellbeing)
- modelling the use of tikanga with tamariki and rangatahi Māori.
Tikanga informs frameworks that address ethical issues. They guide safe practice when engaging with Māori and the things that matter to them.
Tamariki and rangatahi Māori are seen as belonging to, and being the responsibility of, the wider whānau and hapū, and this is how tamariki and rangatahi Māori learn to identify with their hapū community.
Working with Pacific families
When the child or young person is placed in a different living situation, with family or non-family, away from home in a new short or long-term care arrangement, there can be significant impacts and trauma for them and for the household members in their new home. We:
- work closely with the family to ensure they have access to the support networks they need to nurture the children and young people and support family oranga (wellbeing)
- use appropriate cultural supports, and if required translators, to ensure the family understand what is happening and why, and are involved in decision-making and planning
- understand the role of the church and community in the life of the family – these key people may be able to help us build a relationship with the family.
Be guided by Va'aifetū when working with children and young people from Pacific families.
- consult a cultural advisor from the Pacific nation the family are from – each nation has its own language, values and beliefs
- think about how we will manage the different dynamics involved when elder family members are seen as decision makers – we should seek cultural advice to help us work with the family to ensure the voices of younger family members and those of children and young people are heard
- connect with the significant people who support them – Pacific families have strong connections to their spirituality, faith, religion and communities
- support families to discuss solutions within their immediate and extended family network and communities
- if children and young people from Pacific families are living with extended family already under cultural care arrangements or through legal orders, work with a cultural advisor to explore connections and legal status
- call a family meeting as soon as possible and ensure the people who are able to help and support the family attend, such as wider family, church and community groups
- ensure plans include how connections to family, school, church and culture and their community will be maintained – moving to a new care arrangement will be distressing for children and young people, and roles and relationships for and between children and young people are significant within Pacific cultures and for supporting their oranga.
Working with Tauiwi families – Pākehā, refugee and migrant communities
There are many different ethnic and cultural groups in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Pākehā children and families are likely to have people, places and events of significance but may express these in different ways. The tendency towards nuclear families might mean we have to put more attention into understanding extended family structures – however, we should still be seeking to make those intergenerational links using genealogies, family searching and exploration. Refugee communities may have specific needs relating to the experiences they have had in their journey to Aotearoa New Zealand.
Family experiences, dynamics and histories can cause stress and distress and we need to explore and understand the impact their family story has had on their values, beliefs and wants for their own children.
As Aotearoa New Zealand becomes more culturally diverse, it is important to seek cultural advice for children from different ethnic and cultural groups. We:
- seek the right cultural advice and support – consider engaging with the Oranga Tamariki International Child Protection Unit
- are aware of the different ethnicities and cultural norms in refugee and migrant communities and the different experiences they will have had on their journeys to Aotearoa New Zealand
- consider the role an interpreter may have to support engagement and understanding
- consider the role of religion in the life of the family – their religious community may play an important role in their lives, and leaders may be able to help with building a relationship
- consider how these connections and relationships will be maintained in a new care arrangement.
Disabled tamariki and rangatahi
Disabled tamariki or rangatahi may need additional supports in their care arrangement. We:
- consult with our regional disability advisor if a disabled tamaiti or rangatahi needs a care arrangement
- ensure the Needs Assessment and Service Coordinators (NASC) are involved if te tamaiti or rangatahi requires a supportive living arrangement to meet their needs, and we work closely with the NASC, te tamaiti or rangatahi, their whānau or family and the caregiver
- when a disabled rangatahi is transitioning from Oranga Tamariki care to adult services, collaborate with the whānau or family, the rangatahi, the NASC and Oranga Tamariki kaimahi to ensure a seamless transition – consult and begin planning early with whānau or family and everyone involved
- take into account any access and communication needs te tamaiti or rangatahi has when considering the care arrangement (discuss with the whānau or family and caregiver) – an Occupational Therapy assessment may be needed so work closely with the NASC and other service providers, for example:
- Does the home require new access such as a ramp or lift?
- Are bath and toilet lifts needed?
- Are all rooms, particularly the bathroom and toilet, fully accessible?
- Is extra equipment needed to ensure everyone can hear and have their voice heard?
Kaitiakitanga or the protective roles and functions of whānau and families
We support kaitiakitanga or the protective roles and functions of all whānau or family by:
- knowing how whānau or family providing care for tamariki at risk of harm are:
- supporting the promotion of lifestyles that are consistent with tikanga Māori, Pacific values and beliefs or the beliefs of other cultures
- allowing for maximum oranga, mobility and independence, full participation in society, and reciprocated care or whanaungatanga for other whānau or family members
- knowing that a healthy whānau or family is reflected in the oranga of tamariki and rangatahi – caring for others is one way the whānau or family collective functions (the extended relationships and whanaungatanga responsibilities link members to the human, environmental and spiritual whole)
- supporting planned visits to extended whānau or family members (if these visits are regular, suitability and safety checks may be required for these whānau or family members to be approved) – be respectful of whānau or family dynamics and consult appropriately
- knowing that care arrangements with whānau or family are ideally done without formal custody orders and supports can be facilitated through a hui ā-whānau or family group conference.
These arrangements should be recorded in both the caregiver support plan and the All About Me plan for te tamaiti or rangatahi.
For tamariki and rangatahi Māori, a care arrangement outside of wider family, whānau, hapū, iwi or family group with non-Māori caregivers should only be agreed if no other option is available. It should be considered short term, and support to maintain and strengthen the whakapapa, whanaungatanga and cultural connections of te tamaiti or rangatahi must be in place while they are living there.
For Pacific children and young people, a care arrangement outside of wider family or family group with non-Pacific caregivers should only be agreed if no other option is available. It should be considered short term, and support to maintain and strengthen the family and cultural connections of the child or young person must in place while they are living there.
If any tamaiti or rangatahi is placed in a care arrangement outside their whānau, family or cultural group, then the All About Me plan should include how relationships with whānau, family, community, cultural groups and places of significance will be supported, built and maintained and include the caregiver's needs to support this.
If there is a need for the caregiver to have respite, short breaks, holidays or support for health needs, explore opportunities for managing this within the whānau or family where possible and work with the whānau or family to make this event as normal and natural as possible.
We ensure tamariki or rangatahi are connected to their family, whānau, hapū, iwi, marae, whenua (land) and cultural communities by:
- supporting them to regularly participate in activities to develop and strengthen their understanding of and confidence about their own family, whānau, hapū, iwi and marae and their cultural customs and protocols
- providing opportunities for tamariki or rangatahi to deepen their relationships with significant family, whānau, hapū, iwi and community members
- providing opportunities for tamariki or rangatahi to learn about their connections to whenua or land and significant people and places
- creating a pepeha journal or life story book as enduring references for te tamaiti or rangatahi as they learn about significant family, whānau, hapū, iwi and community members and groups such as their church, and relationships to people and places and visits they've made
- supporting te tamaiti or rangatahi to meet and learn about their Māori or iwi leaders, Pacific nation leaders and history and historically significant tūpuna (ancestors) and community.
- supporting whānau and te tamaiti or rangatahi to be registered with their iwi – if whānau do not want this to happen, we work with our kairaranga ā-whānau on how we can support the whānau to understand why this is important.
Supporting a move to a new living situation
Transitions to new care arrangements are some of the most vulnerable periods for tamariki or rangatahi. Moving to a new living situation can be difficult and traumatic for te tamaiti or rangatahi. We need to be mindful of the impacts of how this change in living arrangement has happened and how te tamaiti or rangatahi is feeling. They may be very scared, upset or overwhelmed. We use the principle of manaakitanga to guide our practice.
Manaakitanga and whakamanawa are crucial principles when supporting any tamaiti or rangatahi to move to a new living situation regardless of culture or ethnicity.
The National Care Standards require us to consider the following when a tamaiti or rangatahi has to move while in care or if they are leaving care soon.
If te tamaiti or rangatahi needs to live somewhere else or move home, or is leaving care, they need support to do this from their social worker, who will:
- engage with te tamaiti or rangatahi about what is happening and why – take the time to understand their views
- make a plan and support te tamaiti or rangatahi while things are changing
- give te tamaiti or rangatahi as much information about the move as they can, like what the new place will be like and what the people there are like
- help te tamaiti or rangatahi meet the people before they move, if that is possible
- make sure the caregiver or person te tamaiti or rangatahi is leaving has the information they need to help te tamaiti or rangatahi feel good about moving
- make sure the caregiver or person te tamaiti or rangatahi is going to live with has the information they need to help them settle in and feel good about moving
- make sure te tamaiti or rangatahi can take their things with them, like their toys, clothing, pets and photos
- help te tamaiti or rangatahi keep in contact with the caregiver they are leaving if that is best for them
- consider what cultural processes might support the transition for tamariki, the caregivers they are moving from and the caregiver they are moving to (for example, whakawātea, mihi whakatau or celebration meal).
When there are multiple tamariki or rangatahi in the home
Rangatiratanga is a guiding principle for working with all tamariki, rangatahi and whānau or family when there are multiple tamariki or rangatahi in the new home and extra supports may be required.
Our practice should:
- recognise that safe whānau or family members are experts on their own tamariki and rangatahi
- see tamariki and rangatahi and whānau or family as active participants in making the decisions that affect them
- identify and engage with whānau or family leaders and support people
- support self-determination about how the whānau or family manages all the tamariki or rangatahi in their home
- promote the rights of tamariki or rangatahi
- recognise and value the role of tamariki or rangatahi and their whānau or family in achieving their collective vision for oranga (wellbeing).
Talk to the whānau or family about:
- meeting the individual needs of all tamariki or rangatahi who will live in the home, including the caregivers
- any additional supports required to care for and meet the immediate and longer-term needs of the tamariki or rangatahi, such as food, nappies, clothes, beds
- what informal and formal resources are available to support the whānau or family.
We should also:
- consult and get the views of the social worker of any tamariki or rangatahi already living in the home and ensure they are involved in the discussions with the caregiving whānau or family and te tamaiti or rangatahi
- talk to all the tamariki and rangatahi who will be living in the home and explore how they are feeling about a new tamariki moving in and any worries they have – work with the social worker of the other tamariki (if they are in care) who will know them and might help resolve any issues, or to their parent (if they are the caregiver’s tamariki)
- update the All About Me plan and the caregiver support plan and record it on CYRAS and CGIS.