Requests for section 131A information
Under section 131A of the Care of Children Act 2004, a Family Court registrar can ask Oranga Tamariki to advise the nature and extent of any involvement of Oranga Tamariki with the parties to an application for a guardianship order or parenting order when they believe we hold information that could assist the proceedings.
The registrar provides details of the applicants and respondents (the parties) and the tamariki and rangatahi (the subjects) in the request.
The registrar may also provide:
- a copy of the CoCA application
- further information relating to the scope of the request
- a due date for the information to be provided.
We respond to requests for information within 5 working days of the date the request was received, unless the registrar has provided a due date.
Purpose of the information
The information we provide about our involvement with the people named in the request informs the Family Court proceedings and helps the Family Court make a decision about the guardianship or parenting order application.
Who provides section 131A information
Our responses to section 131A requests are provided by the national contact centre.
What information we provide
Section 131A requires us to provide brief written advice about the nature and extent of any involvement we have had with the parties.
Section 131A is an information-only request. Our response does not include an analysis of, or opinion about, the content of the information or the social work practice.
While the parties to the application are the applicant and the respondent, we provide information about our involvement with all of the people named in the section 131A request, including the tamariki and rangatahi who are named as subjects. We may also provide relevant information about other tamariki and rangatahi living with the applicant and the respondent when it is directly relevant to the proceedings.
Where we source our information
We provide information that is recorded in our case recording systems CYRAS and CGIS.
The nature and extent of our involvement
We provide a description about the nature and extent of our involvement, why we were involved, and how long we were involved for. The information we provide could include:
- reports of concern received
- the nature of the concerns and our responses to the concerns – for example, whether we carried out an investigation or assessment
- the outcomes of our investigation or assessment – for example, a family/whānau agreement, family group conference referral, Family Court applications
- contact records, including records of family harm incidents
- an indication of the length of our involvement, with more specific dates for longer periods of involvement – for example, with the adult parties during their childhood.
Any involvement with Oranga Tamariki
This means we provide a brief record of all interactions unless the request from the registrar only requires specific information – for example, about a particular incident, interaction or time period.
Be aware of information that may be unknown to the party – for example, a childhood history of involvement, or intake and contact records that have not resulted in an assessment or investigation. It is important that we bring these to the attention of the Family Court.
We provide brief advice
This means that we provide information at a summary level – for example, an overview of the nature of concerns expressed in multiple reports of concern received, rather than the detail of each report of concern.
What information should not be provided
Some information will not be provided to the Family Court as a part of a section 131A request response. This includes:
- adoption information, which is protected through legislation and must not be disclosed without the prior permission of the Family Court
- family group conference discussions (only the outcome of a family group conference, including a plan, can be shared with the Family Court)
- information that is covered by legal privilege
- whakapapa information – this should be obtained directly from the whānau if they consent (the case recording policy has more information)
- youth justice information with a section 282 discharge.
If we are uncertain about whether specific information can be shared, we should talk with Legal Services.
Considerations for preparing a response to a section 131A request
People have a right to have their personal information stored and shared in safe and appropriate ways. When considering the level of detail to share with the Family Court, we need to be mindful of the purpose for which we are sharing the information.
Remember that this request is for brief written information – if the Family Court wants to request additional information, or believes a social work assessment is required, that can be requested under section 132 of the Care of Children Act 2004.
We need to consider the knowledge source we are drawing on and ensure that information we provide to the Family Court is accurate.
- the proper names of all people are used, with correct spelling
- the dates of our involvement and any specific events are accurate
- any statements about a person (for example, their health status or offending history) have been verified.
Where the information recorded on our system is conflicting (for example, different spelling of names) or has not been clearly verified (for example, through a medical diagnosis or police vetting), we bring that to the attention of the Family Court in our response.
Consider the impact and potential trauma that the information we are sharing may have and what steps we can take to support the oranga (wellbeing) of the party, reduce potential trauma and promote healing.
Consider the impact of sharing information that may be unknown to the party – for example, a childhood history of involvement, or intake and contact records that have not resulted in an assessment or investigation.
Identify any sensitive information or information that may be challenging or traumatising for the party to receive and have shared.
Bring these issues to the attention of the Family Court so that steps can be taken to convey the information in a supportive and appropriate way.
Consider the language we use and the way we present the information we are sharing with the Family Court.
Ensure that the information we share is conveyed in a way that respects the mana of those it is about.
We need to reflect on whether our own attitudes or beliefs have influenced the detail we are choosing to share and the way in which we are presenting the information.
Ensure that we provide the Family Court with a complete and fair picture of our involvement and that the detail provided does not reflect or promote bias.
We seek support when we are unsure about the information we should include or how to record in a way that respects the mana of those involved.
Recording section 131A information in CYRAS
Section 131A requests are entered on CYRAS as a contact record. The information that we provide is attached to the contact record. We also attach all people who we have shared information about to the contact record.