When support and assistance is appropriate
A social worker conducts an assessment to consider the risk of harm to a tamaiti or rangatahi.
If we find that te tamaiti or rangatahi is being or is likely to be seriously harmed, then we form a belief that they are in need of care or protection and we refer to a care and protection coordinator to convene a family group conference.
If, following an assessment, we find that te tamaiti or rangatahi is not at risk of serious harm, then we need to consider whether there are identifiable risks or wellbeing concerns that could be addressed through informal (that is, non-statutory) types of support and assistance.
These types of support and assistance work best when there is already good engagement with and commitment by family/whānau, support people and other professionals to address the wellbeing concerns and develop a plan to assist te tamaiti or rangatahi.
We should sufficiently assess the needs of te tamaiti or rangatahi so we can respond effectively. This might include bringing family/whānau together through a whānau hui or hui ā-whānau to consider the range of support that can be mobilised to help te tamaiti or rangatahi.
We should only decide that no further action is required if:
- there is no identifiable risk of harm that could be addressed by arranging such services, or
- the referrals or other actions have now been made.
Types of support and assistance
There are a number of pathways to link tamariki and rangatahi and their family/whānau to support and assistance, including:
- Strengthening Families
- Children's Teams, where available
- iwi organisations
- referral to other social sector agencies who usually provide the assistance needed — for example, housing, financial assistance for family/whānau, health, education needs
- other community agency or provider referrals.
Family group conference where assistance may be required
The more formal statutory function of the family group conference provided for under section 18AAA of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 should only be used if we have determined that te tamaiti or rangatahi is not in need of care or protection but we consider that a family group conference may best assist in formulating a plan to help te tamaiti. This will generally only be when we have identified significant wellbeing concerns that cannot be addressed informally through other support pathways. In most circumstances arriving at a plan through hui ā-whānau or family meeting can generate the range of options which will best support te tamaiti or rangatahi.
Consult with your supervisor and a care or protection coordinator in the first instance to determine the best pathway to address these concerns. They will be able to help to determine whether or not a family group conference should be held to provide assistance to address wellbeing concerns or whether another course of action is required.
For tamariki and rangatahi who have a disability, consult with the Regional Disability Advisor to determine if a family group conference may be needed to provide assistance to address their wellbeing needs.