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Printed: 16/05/2021
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Last updated: 17/02/2021

Ensuring a safe, stable and loving home when tamariki are living with non-whānau caregivers

The primary responsibility for caring for and nurturing tamariki lies with their family, whānau, hapū, iwi and family group. If tamariki are in the care of non-whānau caregivers, our plans respond to their specific circumstances and care needs.

Guidance replaces Noho ake Oranga supporting information

This guidance replaces the information that supported the policy ‘Noho ake Oranga – permanency and enhancing wellbeing for tamariki in care'.

If there is a commitment or agreement in place for permanent care

If tamariki are living with non-whānau caregivers, our response needs to consider whether there is an existing commitment or agreement to support permanent care with that caregiver.

An existing commitment or agreement to support permanent care could take the form of a court plan, a family group conference plan, a plan emerging from a hui ā-whānau or a commitment to fund and support applications by the caregivers for legal orders to support permanent care as an outcome of an agreed process.

We need to honour existing commitments or agreements to support permanent care. We only change the existing care arrangement if there is a significant change in the circumstances of te tamaiti or their caregiver.

Tamariki and caregivers who might be in this situation

I am a tamaiti in care and there is an existing commitment or agreement that my home with this non-whānau caregiver be made permanent.

I am a non-whānau caregiver and there is an existing commitment or agreement that my care of this tamaiti will be made permanent.

What we do

Follow through on the existing plan

  • We continue to support the existing care arrangement and act on our previous commitments to te tamaiti and their caregiver. We work on the basis that the right care decision was made for te tamaiti based on an assessment of their needs and best interests.
  • We review the All About Me plan for te tamaiti and the caregiver’s support plan and adjust where necessary to ensure there is regard for mana tamaiti and support to maintain and strengthen belonging, cultural identity and connections to family, whānau, hapū and iwi.
  • We must have regard for the principles of mana tamaiti, whakapapa and whanaungatanga and the courts will expect to see these reflected in the plan when considering legal orders for permanent care. We may need to adjust the plan to give effect to these, for example, additional cultural supports may be needed, or contact arrangements may need to be redefined.

All About Me plan to meet the needs of tamariki

Caregiver support plan

Work in partnership with family, whānau, hapū, iwi and family group

  • We need to work closely with te tamaiti, their family, whānau, hapū, iwi and family group, and the caregiver to agree what arrangements will be in place to maintain and strengthen the relationship between te tamaiti and their family, whānau, hapū, iwi and family group, including arrangements for access/contact.
  • We work in partnership with the family or whānau of te tamaiti, and their hapū, iwi or family group to enable and empower their participation in decision-making and agree what arrangements are in place to ensure whānau, hapū and iwi can carry out their whanaungatanga responsibilities.

Help caregivers understand the principles and legal obligations that underpin our practice and adjust the plan if needed

  • We need to work closely with caregivers to help them understand the principles and legal obligations that underpin our practice and how these may impact on them and te tamaiti in their care. This includes how the connections of te tamaiti to their family, whānau, hapū, iwi and family group will continue to be strengthened and maintained after care becomes permanent and how to ensure whānau, hapū and iwi can carry out their whanaungatanga responsibilities.

Only revisit the care arrangement if there has been a significant change in the circumstances of te tamaiti or their caregiver

  • If, as a result of a significant change in circumstances of te tamaiti or their caregiver, we intend to vary or withdraw support for an existing commitment or agreement for permanent care, social workers should consult with their supervisor, caregiver social worker, and practice leader in the first instance.
  • For tamariki Māori, we should consult with a kairaranga ā-whānau or an experienced senior Māori or bicultural practitioner.
  • The site manager, regional legal manager, and regional manager Caregiver Recruitment and Support should be consulted before a final decision is made.

If te tamaiti has been in the care of the caregiver for a long time but there is no plan for permanent care

It’s important that we achieve stability for te tamaiti at the earliest opportunity with consideration for their age and development stage.

If te tamaiti has been living with the same non-whānau caregiver for a long period of time but there is no plan for the permanent care of te tamaiti, we need to engage and work in partnership with te tamaiti and their family, whānau, hapū, iwi and family group to plan for permanent care that addresses the needs of te tamaiti, including their need for enduring relationships and whakapapa connections.

We follow the 'Ensuring a safe, stable and loving home for tamariki in care' policy.

While planning for permanent care, we maintain stability for te tamaiti – there should be no sudden change that could create instability in their life.

Policy: Ensuring a safe, stable and loving home for tamariki in care

Tamariki and caregivers who might be in this situation

I am a tamaiti who has been living with the same non-whānau caregiver for a long period of time but there is no existing commitment or agreement about my permanent care.

I am a non-whānau caregiver who has been caring for this tamaiti for a long time but there is no existing commitment or agreement that this is a permanent care arrangement.

What we do

Base decisions on the assessed needs of te tamaiti

  • We put the best interests and wellbeing of te tamaiti at the centre of our work and ensure that we understand and take into account their views and wishes.
  • We undertake a thorough assessment of the needs of te tamaiti or we update their Tuituia assessment if this has already been done. We ensure that the assessment of the needs of te tamaiti has regard for mana tamaiti, especially the need to strengthen belonging, cultural identity and connections to family, whānau, hapū and iwi.

All About Me plan to meet the needs of tamariki

Use appropriate decision-making processes that involve te tamaiti, their family, whānau, hapū, iwi and family group and their caregiver

  • We use appropriate whānau decision-making processes such as a family group conference, hui ā-whānau, or family meeting to make sure family, whānau, hapū, iwi and the family group can participate in the decision.
  • We include the caregiver in the decision as they are important people in the life of te tamaiti (and entitled members to a family group conference).
  • We follow our usual processes around decision-making, including consulting, supervision and the process for approval of non-whānau permanent care.

If a change in caregiver is agreed, manage care transitions carefully

  • If a change in caregiver is agreed, we plan for and support the transition of te tamaiti from the existing caregiver appropriately and in accordance with the 'Transitions within care' policy.

Policy: Transitions within care

If a decision is made that this caregiver will become the permanent caregiver for te tamaiti, ensure the caregiver’s capacity to provide permanent care has been appropriately assessed

  • If a tamaiti has been placed with a transitional caregiver and we are now considering that caregiver as a permanent caregiver for te tamaiti, we undertake a reassessment to determine the caregiver’s suitability to provide permanent care that will meet the specific needs of te tamaiti.
  • If a decision is made to pursue permanent care with the current caregiver, we ensure the caregiver understands their legal obligations, and how these may impact on them and te tamaiti in their care. This includes how the connections of te tamaiti to their family, whānau, hapū, iwi and family group will continue to be strengthened and maintained after care becomes permanent and how to ensure whānau, hapū and iwi can carry out their whanaungatanga responsibilities.

Other tamariki in the care of a non-whānau caregiver

When tamariki are in our care, we will first work in partnership with their family, whānau, hapū, iwi and family group to restore them to the care of their parents or usual carers.

While this work is underway, te tamaiti should be living with a caregiver from their family, whānau, hapū, iwi or family group (a whānau caregiver). If we have been unable to find a whānau caregiver in the first instance, we should proactively work in partnership with the family, whānau, hapū, iwi and family group to find a home with a whānau caregiver.

Tamariki and caregivers who might be in this situation

I am a tamaiti who has recently come into care, am placed with a non-whānau caregiver, and decisions about my long-term care have not yet been made.

I am a non-whānau caregiver caring for a tamaiti who has recently come to live with me and decisions about their long-term care have not yet been made.

What we do

  • We set expectations with caregivers from the start that we will pursue care options for tamariki within their whānau, hapū, iwi or family group.
  • We use the Tuituia assessment to understand the needs of te tamaiti and the All About Me plan to ensure identified needs are met in the short term while we work with their family, whānau, hapū, iwi and family group to meet their needs, including for a safe, stable and loving home.
  • We follow our usual processes around decision-making, which involves consult, supervision, hui ā-whānau and family group conference.

All About Me plan to meet the needs of tamariki