Explaining rights and entitlements to tamariki and rangatahiUnder the National Care Standards, every tamaiti and rangatahi is entitled to receive information about what they can expect when they are in care, and be supported to raise any concerns they have.
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 shift
Updates made to guidance
Under 'Decision-making about their own lives', we have added content about the right of tamariki and rangatahi to change their name and about marriage when the chief executive is a guardian.
What are tamariki and rangatahi rights and entitlements
This guidance encompasses three regulations in the National Care Standards:
Support for making a complaint, providing feedback, or raising issues of concern — regulation 43 of National Care Standards
Matters to be explained to children and young persons — regulation 66 of National Care Standards
Method of providing information and explanation — regulation 68 of National Care Standards
When we provide the quality of care that the Care Standards call for, tamariki and rangatahi will be able to say:
“I know what I can expect when I am in care and what my rights are”
“I’m listened to and I know what to do if things aren’t going well”
Ensuring tamariki and rangatahi know and understand their rights and entitlements is a critical part of our role. Under the National Care Standards, the specific information that needs to be covered during our conversations with tamariki and rangatahi includes:
- why they are in care
- what they can expect when they’re in care, including:
- the timing of their needs assessment
- their rights (as specified in the Statement of Rights)
- how often they will be visited by their social worker
- who they can contact if they have concerns
- how their family, whānau, hapū, iwi and family group will be involved in decision-making, and why they’ll have that level of involvement
- how te tamaiti or rangatahi can be involved in decision-making, and how their views will be used to help make decisions about them
- the independent services that are available — including advocacy and Māori services
- their right to confidentiality and privacy
- how things about them are recorded, and how they can access that record
- how they can provide feedback or make a complaint, including:
- what constitutes feedback, and what constitutes a complaint
- who they can contact if they want to provide feedback or make a complaint
- what they can expect if they provide feedback or make a complaint, including timeframes, what will be recorded, and how they will be kept informed
- where they can go to make a complaint
- what processes or mechanisms are available if they are not satisfied with the response to their complaint
- the support available to them if they need help to express their views
- the support available to them if they need to express their views.
When tamariki and rangatahi understand what is happening around them and are involved in the decision-making about their own lives they feel empowered, which in turn reduces their anxiety and further trauma.
The right of tamariki and rangatahi to change their name
Names are sometimes changed over the course of our lives and this can happen either formally or informally, for many different reasons.
Informal name changes
Tamariki or rangatahi can choose to use a different name (perhaps choose to call themselves by their middle name or choose a name that they prefer to be known as). This is not a change to their legal or registered name.
Informal changes to their first or last name are the prerogative of te tamaiti or rangatahi, or their guardian. Informal changes cannot be instigated by a social worker or caregiver. For example, sometimes people feel the sex they were assigned at birth does not describe their gender. They may change their name and pronouns they use to better match their gender identity. We need to understand and respect the personal choices of te tamaiti or rangatahi regarding their identity and culture, including their name (to the extent that freedom of choice is consistent with the best interests of te tamaiti or rangatahi).
Formal name changes
A formal name change is a change of the legally registered name of te tamaiti or rangatahi. There are a range of different procedures depending on the age of te tamaiti or rangatahi and whether or not there is agreement between the guardians.
The name change needs to be justified as being in the best interests of te tamaiti or rangatahi. Legal advice should be sought if a change of name is being considered.
We should talk to our site solicitor if a formal change of name is being considered.
Gender and sexual indentity — Tuituia domain: Identity and culture
New Zealand Government: Changing your name
Marriage when the chief executive is a guardian
Rangatahi under the age of 16 years cannot marry, regardless of whether their parent or guardian would consent.
Rangatahi aged 16 or 17 must apply for consent from the Family Court before they can marry or enter a civil union. The Judge will consider whether the application is made voluntarily, whether the rangatahi understand the consequences of their application, and whether the marriage or civil union would be in their best interests. The Judge can also consider the views of parents and guardians.
When a rangatahi in the guardianship of the chief executive wishes to marry or enter a civil union, there are a range of factors to consider. The question of appropriate consent and the procedures to be followed are complex and require both consultation with your supervisor and legal advice.
Areas to explore with rangatahi, their partner and their family/whānau include:
- why they wish to get married, and their hopes and dreams for the future
- parents and family/whānau support of the rangatahi and their ongoing role in their life.
The National Care Standards, particularly regulation 66, help to uphold our obligations to tamariki Māori and rangatahi Māori and their whānau by setting out the standard of care every tamaiti and rangatahi in care is entitled to expect, and ensuring that they are provided with information about their rights in a way that they can understand.
In addition to the requirements stipulated in regulation 66, all social work practice must be consistent with the practice standard Whakamana te tamaiti: Practice empowering tamariki Māori. This includes having regard to:
- mana tamaiti by taking steps to enhance the mana and cultural identity of tamariki, being culturally responsive to their needs and promoting pride in being Māori
- whakapapa by identifying and engaging with whānau, hapū and iwi members to participate in decision-making for tamariki
- whanaungatanga by facilitating relevant use of te reo Māori to support respectful, purposeful engagement and meaningful relationship building with tamariki and their networks.
Whakamana te tamaiti: Practice empowering tamariki Māori
Tamariki Māori also have particular protection under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRoC) and the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) which are consistent with our aspirations for tamariki Māori who are in care. These provide best practice guidance on how to ensure indigenous people are able to participate in their culture, customary practices and language, and experience appropriate support and responsive services to meet their needs.
Supporting tamariki and rangatahi to understand their rights
Social workers need to carefully consider the communication needs of tamariki and rangatahi so we can help them understand their rights.
Factors that may influence how well we communicate with tamariki and rangatahi about new information include their:
- any disability
- cognitive ability.
Conditions such as Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) may influence the ability of a tamaiti or rangatahi to understand new information. Discussions with health professionals, teachers, caregivers and whānau or family of a tamaiti or rangatahi will help us understand their comprehension and how we can modify our approach to best engage with te tamaiti or rangatahi.
In some cases, we may need to find a support person who can help te tamaiti or rangatahi during these discussions. It will need to be someone they trust and who will support their best interests. It may be members of their whānau or family, or a professional in their support network (for example, a school counsellor).
Conversations about the rights of te tamaiti or rangatahi should occur at the following points in their journey:
- coming into care
- transitioning between placements
- building their plan
- reviewing their plan
- significant change in circumstances
- if te tamaiti or rangatahi asks about their rights, or an issue related to their rights arises.
We have a number of resources available to support tamariki and rangatahi to understand their rights in relation to care. These are based on the Statement of Rights in the National Care Standards and Related Matters Regulations 2018. The resources have been designed to help us have conversations with tamariki and rangatahi of all ages. They aim to make information about their rights available and accessible to tamariki and rangatahi.
Any discussion about the rights of te tamaiti or rangatahi should also use the information contained in the All About Me plan. The Tamariki All About Me plan includes information that is unique to te tamaiti or rangatahi, including:
- why they are in care
- the timing of their needs assessment
- how often they will be visited by their social worker
- how their whānau or family will be involved in decision-making
- how they can be involved in decision-making.
Child-friendly version of the Statement of Rights (suitable for ages 13+)
This is a child-friendly adaption of the Statement of Rights from the National Care Standards and Other Regulations. It also includes information about advocacy, making a complaint and keeping information safe.
Child-friendly statement of rights – orangatamariki.govt.nz
My Rights My Voice engagement cards, booklet and poster (suitable for ages 7 to 13)
These cards help social workers explain rights and entitlements to tamariki and rangatahi.
The cards have also been made into a booklet that tamariki and rangatahi can keep so they can refer to the information if they need it.
There is also an A3 poster that presents the rights in a headline format so that te tamaiti or rangathi can use it to indicate what they would like to talk about.
Using the My Rights My Voice cards and booklet
My Rights My Voice cards (PDF 6.4 MB)
My Rights My Voice poster (PDF 2.2 MB)
The My Rights My Voice cards and booklet can be ordered from BlueStar in the same way that we order business cards and other pamphlets. Social Worker Resource Assistants will be able to help with this.
An information pouch is available to give to tamariki and rangatahi to hold their My Rights My Voice booklet, and any other care-related documentation they may wish to add, such as the Tamariki All About Me plan and ‘Welcome to our home / Haere Mai ki Tō Tātau Kāinga’ booklet. The information pouch comes in a range of colours which tamariki and rangatahi can choose from.
Feedback and complaints
This section deals with the scenario where te tamaiti or rangatahi raises feedback or has a complaint. There is separate guidance for allegations of abuse. In general terms, a complaint is dissatisfaction with a level of service whereas an allegation of abuse relates to physical, sexual, mental harm or neglect. Make sure tamariki and rangatahi know that if it is an emergency, they should contact the Emergency Services on 111, rather than waiting to talk to their social worker.
It is important that you are clear on the distinction, as they need to be handled very differently. However, if you are in doubt, speak with your supervisor.
We must explain to tamariki and rangatahi they can provide feedback and make complaints, and we must ensure that a tamaiti or rangatahi who wishes to make a complaint, provide feedback, or raise an issue of concern receives sufficient support to enable them to do so.
When explaining to tamariki and rangatahi information about how they can raise a complaint or provide feedback, let them know that any issue they want to raise is important to Oranga Tamariki. Feedback could be something positive about their care or something that is not working for them.
This means regularly asking them if they have any issues to raise, taking their issues seriously and being ready to act to keep them safe and address their worries.
Tamariki and rangatahi also need to know that their feedback about the services they receive from Oranga Tamariki is really important. This feedback will help Oranga Tamariki and other services improve things for all tamariki and rangatahi.
“She always tells us when she comes to see us — just ring us up if you have any concerns or need something.”
“I didn’t know how to reach out … it was too hard.”
Support in making a complaint or giving feedback
Tamariki and rangatahi may become upset, angry, frustrated or anxious about sharing their feedback and/or making a complaint. As much as possible, reassure them that providing feedback and making a complaint is not a bad thing, but a way to ensure tamariki and rangatahi receive the care they need and services improve.
Tamariki and rangatahi with disabilities, developmental and communication needs may need more support to share their feedback and complaints. Disabled tamariki and rangatahi are more vulnerable when using services and may not have the ability to use standard feedback and complaint mechanisms.
We need to let tamariki and rangatahi know they can share their feedback and complaints with us or another trusted adult in their lives.
“Yes my early high school years I was at that stage, that was the stage where I felt I couldn’t say things to Oranga Tamariki myself and for reasons to do with my parents as well as not really being heard, seeing change through what I am trying to say. So my high school actually had a social worker, a professional social worker, and she had quite a bit to do with me and if need be in situations she would jump in and say ok look I am going to help support you with this, to get this message across to these people because they need to know.”
If a tamaiti or rangatahi decides not to progress with their complaint or feedback we need to talk with them to ensure that we have:
- fully understood their reasons not to progress
- addressed any concerns or barriers to using the feedback and complaints pathway
- ensured that there is an alternative process for addressing their concerns
- offered support (whether directly or through another person or organisation).
If we have fully explored the reason for this decision and why te tamaiti has changed their mind, then we should support them in their decision not to proceed.
Let tamariki and rangatahi know they can access independent support through VOYCE Whakarongo Mai.
Website: VOYCE Whakarongo Mai
Phone: 0800 4VOYCE (0800 486 923)
Process to make a complaint or give feedback
Once a tamaiti or rangatahi has decided to make a complaint or to provide feedback, let them know what the process is likely to be, what the possible outcomes may be, and how long it is likely to take to be resolved. The following is a guide on the steps to take:
- Let te tamaiti or rangatahi know they can raise a complaint or share their feedback:
- using the online form on the Oranga Tamariki website
Feedback, compliments, complaints and suggestions — orangatamariki.govt.nz
- by phoning (0508 326 459)
- by email firstname.lastname@example.org
- by contacting VOYCE Whakarongo Mai (contact details above)
- by making a complaint with one of the nine Residence Grievance Panels who monitor and investigate complaints made by tamariki and rangatahi placed in Care and Protection or Youth Justice residences.
- using the online form on the Oranga Tamariki website
- Let te tamaiti or rangatahi know, if they prefer, they can take their concerns to an external agency such as the Office of the Ombudsman (0800 802 602), Social Workers Registration Board (04 931 2650) or Office of the Children’s Commissioner (04 471 1410).
- If te tamaiti or rangatahi gives feedback or makes a complaint directly to us, we should listen to what they have to say and clarify what they have said in a way that they understand wherever possible, using their own words (don’t use jargon).
- Explain to them that what they have said is a complaint or feedback.
- Explain what they can expect if they provide feedback or make a complaint. Ask them if they wish to proceed with the process. If they don’t, explore any reasons why and discuss how else their concerns could be addressed.
- Explain if they proceed, the information they share will need to be recorded and sent through the appropriate channels — this could be the complaints process or by making a report of concern.
- Explain if their concerns relate to a care provider (section 396 provider):
- they will be forwarded to the care provider (if te tamaiti or rangatahi agree to proceeding) who will need to take the lead on responding to the concerns — Oranga Tamariki still has a role in ensuring they are supported through the process
- if the concern amounts to a report of concern, it will be handled by Oranga Tamariki and the section 396 provider.
- Explain if their feedback or concerns are about a full care partner, it is up to the provider to respond to the complaint or feedback.
- Find out how te tamaiti or rangatahi feels about their concern being forwarded to the care provider. They may become fearful, anxious or upset — ask if they would like support.
- Explain to them the timeframes for complaints and feedback to be responded to.
- Explain how they will be supported if they make a complaint, for example, having someone write the complaint with them or having a trusted adult present when they speak about their complaint.
- Explain what the possible outcomes of making a complaint may be.
- Confirm that tamariki or rangatahi want to proceed with their feedback or concerns.
- If tamariki or rangatahi tell you their feedback or complaint, and it is not a report of concern, email the Feedback and Complaints team. They will log the complaint or feedback in the complaints management system (CMS) and forward it to the site for follow-up.
- If the complaint or feedback has been made by an adult in the network of te tamaiti or rangatahi, check with te tamaiti or rangatahi to make sure they wish to proceed with the action. If te tamaiti is too young to make this decision, discuss it with your supervisor.
Reviewing a complaint
Someone not known to te tamaiti or rangatahi may be asked to review the complaint, depending on its nature and complexity. This may involve seeking out information to understand what has occurred. During this process, the person reviewing the complaint may wish to speak with te tamaiti or rangatahi if they are willing. Careful consideration should be given to who and how te tamaiti is supported in this process, taking care to consider support being provided by someone other than the person who the concerns are about. This could be their social worker, caregiver or another trusted adult. Support could also be provided by VOYCE Whakarongo Mai.
Resolution of feedback or complaint
As essential step in the feedback and complaint process is linking back to te tamaiti or rangatahi about the outcome. Often it has taken significant courage for te tamaiti or rangatahi to tell someone about their concerns or worries. It is therefore important that Oranga Tamariki acknowledges the feedback, lets te tamaiti or rangatahi know what action has been taken, and checks with them whether or not the steps taken have resolved the concern from their perspective.
- Explain to te tamaiti or rangatahi the outcome of their feedback or complaint will be shared with them. Ask them how they like would to receive this, for example, ask them if a visit by their social worker would be appropriate, if they would like to have a support person or their caregiver with them, and if they would like a copy of this outcome in writing. Advise them that the outcome will also be recorded in their case records. When suggesting a person who could support them in this process, make sure this is someone who is not directly involved in the matters of concern to te tamaiti or rangatahi.
- When sharing the outcome, consider the timing and location. The environment where the outcome is discussed will be important — it should be a space where tamariki or rangatahi will feel comfortable, safe and supported.
- Also consider the sensitivity of the information and what follow-up support should be provided to help te tamaiti or rangatahi process the news.
- When the outcome has been shared, ask them how they feel about the outcome.
- We must explain to te tamaiti or rangatahi what processes or mechanisms are available if they are not satisfied with the response of Oranga Tamariki to their complaint. This could include contacting the Office of the Ombudsman, Social Workers Registration Board or Office of the Children’s Commissioner or seeking support from VOYCE Whakarongo Mai.
If the concerns of te tamaiti or rangatahi relate to a care provider, it is the care provider who will need to take the lead on responding to the concerns. We still have a role in ensuring te tamaiti or rangatahi is supported throughout the process. However, if the concern amounts to a report of concern, it will be handled by Oranga Tamariki and the 396 provider.
- Inform and explain to te tamaiti or rangatahi that their feedback will be forwarded to the service provider.
- Find out how te tamaiti or rangatahi feels about this feedback being forwarded to the service provider. They may become fearful, anxious or upset — ask if they would like support.
- If they want to proceed, follow the steps above.
Where a care provider holds full custody of te tamaiti, it is up to the provider to respond to the complaint or feedback.