When a review is required
Each care and protection family group conference plan must have a review date (this is set out in section 29A of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989) and it is the responsibility of the care and protection coordinator to ensure the review happens if required. The plan is reviewed in a timeframe appropriate to the age, developmental needs and circumstances of te tamaiti or rangatahi. At a minimum:
- if te tamaiti is under the age of 7 years, the review date must be within 6 months of the date on which the plan comes into effect
- if te tamaiti or rangatahi is 7 years or older, it must be within 12 months.
The conference may decide it is better to review the plan sooner and more frequently than this, especially if there are concerns.
The family group conference is reconvened to review its decisions, recommendations and plans (this is outlined in section 36):
- before the review date set out in the plan, or
- if required to do so by the chief executive, or a relevant social service, but only if that service made the original referral or is directly involved in implementing the decision, recommendation or plan, on account of there being a change in circumstances so that the plan no longer adequately addresses the needs of te tamaiti or rangatahi, or
- at any time, at the coordinator’s own initiative, or at the request of at least 2 members of the conference that formulated the decision, recommendation or plan that needs to be reviewed:
- this would usually be because the plan is significantly off track and outcomes can be compromised
- when this applies, the decision or request to reconvene the conference is made in a timely manner.
The social worker may want to bring family/whānau members together earlier to discuss progress on the plan. The coordinator doesn’t need to facilitate or attend these meetings.
Purpose of the review
The purpose of the review is to provide te tamaiti or rangatahi and their family/whānau with the opportunity to:
- reflect on progress
- celebrate success
- identify any barriers that have emerged
- reconsider and potentially reset goals, and actions required. For example, the conference may consider goals that relate to the development and wellbeing of te tamaiti or rangatahi, if their safety and security needs are now well met.
The care and protection coordinator is responsible for the review. The care and protection coordinator must consult with the social worker to decide if a reconvened conference is needed. The coordinator could also ask the social worker to provide a report on the plan’s progress. If they decide not to reconvene the conference, the report can be entered into the review screen to explain the decision.
For most reviews, the family group conference is brought back together.
The social worker is responsible for actively monitoring the plan before the review. This includes reviewing and updating the Tuituia assessment and report.
Reviews for tamariki in care must follow the policy ‘Caring for children and young people’.
If significant changes to the plan are needed to keep te tamaiti or rangatahi safe, such as changing the permanent care goal, the social worker will explore options with their supervisor before the review meeting.
Reconvening the family group conference due to a breakdown in the plan
If it is determined that the plan no longer meets the needs of te tamaiti or rangatahi or significant elements of the plan cannot or will not be completed and the family group conference is to be reconvened, clearly document the reasons for this on CYRAS, including the justification under section 36.
If there are safety concerns for te tamaiti or rangatahi, then take appropriate action to keep them safe before the conference reconvenes.
The process taken to prepare for a family group conference applies here — the process might be simpler though, because participants would generally know what to expect:
- The social worker updates the Tuituia assessment and risk statements and the key information is shared with participants.
- Explain the reason the conference is to be reconvened to family/whānau. Assist them to consider possible solutions that they can present at the reconvened conference.
- Consider holding a hui-a-whānau before the reconvened or review conference to share assessment information with te tamaiti or rangatahi and family/whānau.
- Hold a conference planning meeting to help prepare.
- Send out invitation letters to participants at least 2 weeks before the scheduled review.
- Engage with people involved in the plan, including te tamaiti or rangatahi, family/whānau and key professionals, before the review so they have an opportunity to share their perspective on how the plan is progressing.
- If the plan has not been working, discuss the reasons why with family/whānau and encourage them to consider possible solutions that they can present at the review.
- Make available any reports or assessments relevant to the review meeting, and help participants understand them if required.
- Where the safety and security needs of te tamaiti or rangatahi are currently well met, encourage family/whānau to consider goals to support the wider wellbeing of te tamaiti or rangatahi.
The review entry on CYRAS must record the outcomes of the tasks required by the family group conference and whether the plan has been satisfactorily completed. The objectives are not met if:
- the plan is not completed to the satisfaction of the participants
- the family group conference is reconvened because the plan no longer meets the needs of te tamaiti or rangatahi
- significant elements of the plan cannot or will not be completed.
Letter to all members of the family group conference
The care and protection coordinator sends a closure letter detailing the outcome of the family group conference plan to all members of the family group conference entitled to receive a copy of the plan, and to the court if appropriate.