Tamariki must have somewhere safe to store their belongings. If they’re staying with a whānau caregiver, or a non kin caregiver, their home must have somewhere tamariki can keep their belongings and which te tamaiti has easy access to. The caregiver’s ability to provide this will have already been considered in their assessment.
Some tamariki may not be willing to have their belongings stored with the caregiver or at their new home. Ensure that you have a discussion with tamariki about storing their belongings and their taonga.
We need to ask tamariki what personal belongings are special to them and make sure they remain in the possession of te tamaiti and are looked after.
Recording important belongings
Tamariki and rangatahi need their important belongings to be kept safe and to stay with them during their time in care, especially when they move.
There is a section in the Tamariki All About Me plan called Belongings/Taonga that should be used to record their most treasured possessions. The social worker should include in this section a list of the important belongings of te tamaiti or rangatahi.
It isn’t intended to be an exhaustive list of all their belongings — it's not an inventory. We are led by te tamaiti about what to record.
It is important to have these identified treasures recorded as soon as possible after te tamaiti or rangatahi come into care so reference, care and respect can be attributed to the items by those parties referring to the plan.
It’s important that the caregiver knows what’s most important to te tamaiti so they can help te tamaiti make choices about keeping those items safe.
Registering personal belongings
When we are talking with te tamaiti or rangatahi about their important belongings/taonga we also need to explain to them the option of recording them in a formal list called a belongings register.
The register helps ensure that all their belongings are accounted for and follow them during their care experience and when they transition out of care, or to independence.
It isn't necessary to have a belongings register for each tamariki or rangatahi, as their important belongings will be recorded in their All About Me plan, including the tamariki version. However, if te tamaiti or rangatahi wishes to have a register of their personal belongings created and maintained, the belongings register should be used for this purpose. This can be bookmarked into the CYRAS All About Me plan in part 3 under the section 'Belongings/Taonga'.
Residences may also have particular recording practices which will need to be followed.
The register is intended to record a brief description and the quantity, brand, colour, size and condition of each item (where applicable). The social worker fills out the register during their visits with te tamaiti or rangatahi and updates it as required, such as when there are changes in their care arrangements, or when te tamaiti or rangatahi have new clothes and/or no longer want items. A printed copy of the completed register can be provided to te tamaiti or rangatahi and their caregiver if they wish. This can be kept in their information pouch.
Residences currently have a register in place to record all personal belongings rangatahi come into care with.
There are instances when tamariki come into our care or custody due to an emergency situation. In these situations it’s important you are prepared with a satisfactory way of transporting the belongings of te tamaiti. All sites must have suitable bags available to be used when tamariki are moving and don’t have anything to move their belongings in. Ensure you have with you a suitable bag for situations such as this. The back-up bags may be stored in the work vehicle or onsite where practitioners have easy access to them.
An administrative person on site or social worker resource assistant can order these bags from Blue Star and ensure there is always sufficient stock on hand.
Backpacks or suitcases
All tamariki must have a bag such as a backpack or larger bag (duffel bag) to use to move their belongings around in, including when they have respite care, go on holiday or move homes. The bag should be of a size, suitability and durability to hold the belongings of tamariki. School-age tamariki also need a suitable school bag.
Consider the age of te tamaiti when obtaining a bag and let them choose their own bag when possible, either through the range that is available through Blue Star or a shop. It’s highly preferable that tamariki in care do not all get the same bag to avoid any possible stigmatisation and to support their right to make their own choices.
How to get a bag
If tamariki don’t have a suitable bag there are a number of ways you can get one, including:
- Sites hold emergency bags to give to te tamaiti when they come into care and have nothing to put their things in.
- A selection of bags are available on Blue Star in a range of colours and styles. As a social worker you can go through these products with te tamaiti so they can choose a bag they like. An administrative person on site or social worker resource assistant can order these products from Blue Star which will be delivered to your site and can then be provided to te tamaiti.
- The clothing allowance paid to caregivers covers a 'travel bag'. Where time permits this is the best way to purchase a bag as the caregiver can go with te tamaiti to select a bag of their choice.
- The incidental expenditure card allows the social worker to purchase a 'travel bag' and other small items in an urgent situation if the clothing allowance cannot be accessed quickly enough to meet the needs of te tamaiti.
- A financial request can be submitted to the site manager to get approval for a purchase order. Once approved the purchase order will be added to the financial plan for te tamaiti.
- Organisations such as Foster Hope donate a backpack-style bag containing personal items to some Oranga Tamariki sites.