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Page URL: https://practice.orangatamariki.govt.nz/our-work/transitioning-to-adulthood/transition-to-independence/advice-and-assistance-when-transitioning-out-of-care/
Printed: 26/04/2024
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Last updated: 03/09/2020

Advice and assistance when rangatahi are transitioning out of or have left our care or custody

Oranga Tamariki provides advice and assistance to eligible rangatahi who have left our care or custody and who are aged from 15 to 25 years old. This is referred to as the provision of advice and assistance.

Upcoming changes for this guidance

This content will be strengthened so it more completely reflects our commitment to practice framed by te Tiriti o Waitangi, based on a mana-enhancing paradigm for practice, and drawing from ​Te Ao Māori principles of oranga to support mana tamaiti, whakapapa and whanaungatanga. We each need to consider how we can apply these principles to our practice when reading this guidance. The following resources provide support:
Practice for working effectively with Māori
Our practice approach

What advice and assistance we provide

We provide advice and assistance to help rangatahi to achieve independence. We provide:

  • advice and non-financial assistance, such as advice and assistance to improve their wellbeing and success in living independently
  • financial assistance — may be provided once all other options for meeting this need have been accessed and the financial assistance can't be provided by another agency at the time it's needed.

Advice and assistance (non-financial and financial) can include support for rangatahi as a parent or expectant parent.

Before rangatahi turn 18 – preparing them to leave our care

Who is eligible

Rangatahi who have not yet left the care or custody of the Oranga Tamariki chief executive will still have their need for support primarily provided by their allocated social worker. 

Rangatahi aged 15 to 25 who have transitioned from the care or custody of the Oranga Tamariki chief executive are eligible for advice and assistance from any of the following:

  • the transition worker from an approved provider who supports them
  • the contact centre team established to provide advice and assistance for rangatahi who have left our care
  • a social worker at site who is providing support.

Principles for financial assistance

The following principles apply when considering the provision of financial assistance to rangatahi:

  • Focus on youth-centred outcomes — we consider the best interests of rangatahi first and support them to reach their potential.
  • Individual case-by-case consideration — we consider each individual circumstance of rangatahi and respond to their changing needs particularly when they are in crisis.
  • Safety net approach — we supplement existing entitlements and/or income, and balance self-reliance and support.
  • High trust relationship — we start by trusting rangatahi, and we act reasonably with taxpayers' money.
  • Responsive and simple — we take decisions and make payments without unnecessary delays, avoiding unnecessary processes or paperwork.

Policy: Transition to adulthood — Advice and assistance

How rangatahi access advice and assistance

There is no wrong door for rangatahi who need advice and assistance. Where a rangatahi has a transition worker from an approved provider, it’s expected that they will contact them when they need advice and assistance. The transition worker has their own processes for providing assistance, including financial assistance.   

Before rangatahi turn 18 – preparing them to leave our care

A rangatahi may also contact the Oranga Tamariki contact centre or any Oranga Tamariki site to request advice and assistance. When this applies, the contact centre or site will take the required actions. This applies irrespective of whether they have a transition worker from an approved provider.

Rangatahi may also approach a site directly, and these guidelines apply. This includes but is not limited to where a rangatahi has an Oranga Tamariki social worker take on the responsibility of maintaining contact, because it is not practicable or able to be provided by a transition worker from an approved provider. Where a rangatahi contacts the social worker for advice and assistance in this context, this guidance also applies. 

Maintaining contact

Assessing assistance or support needs

When a rangatahi has sought assistance or support, we need to assess their current situation and needs. Our focus is on how we can provide advice or assistance that will help rangatahi improve their wellbeing and success in living independently.

Open-ended questions like the following can draw out the information needed:

  • What is happening for them?
  • Why have they called? Has there been a crisis or are there other concerns? What is their biggest concern that needs to be sorted right now? How immediate is the concern?
  • Who do they have supporting them? For example, friends, family, whānau, hapū, iwi, community people.
  • Do they have or are they expecting a pēpi? What support would help them?  
  • Do they have connections with family, whānau, hapū and iwi who could support them as expectant parents? How can these be enhanced?
  • What is going well for them, including with people who look out for them? What has led to them deciding they need advice and assistance at this particular point in time?
  • Are they in contact with their transition worker or, if they don’t have one, their social worker where relevant?
  • Where there may be a need for financial assistance, is it:
    • due to a one-off planned cost coming up, such as costs linked to attending a course, or
    • because of difficulty managing and meeting their basic needs, or the basic needs of their tamariki? Again, is this a situational issue, or are there ongoing financial issues that need to be addressed?

Guideline for using the TSS financial assistance decision-making framework

Find out about the strength of connections rangatahi have with their family, whānau, hapū, iwi and other supports in the community, as these people may have roles and responsibilities which are important in both the short and long term for supporting rangatahi. Such strengths can provide a foundation for working on their needs.  

The rangatahi may feel anxious and unable to clearly say what they need, so they may need some encouragement. It may be that their original reason for making contact may not be their real issue, but they don’t know how to tell us what is really going on. They may find it difficult to talk about emotional needs, such as loneliness, anxiety or disconnection from others. It may be easier for them to talk about practical needs, such as where they are living or concerns about finances.

Read through their recent casenotes on CYRAS, last assessment and plan to find out what their most recent involvement with Oranga Tamariki looked like. This will give us a picture of how their transition has been going, whether advice or assistance was previously sought and if so what was provided.

Policy: Advice and assistance – If there are care and protection concerns for the rangatahi or their tamaiti

Responding to the needs of rangatahi

Our response to the rangatahi needs to help them with any immediate needs, including any crisis or emergency situations, resolve issues, remain independent and build their resilience and wellbeing.

Our responses may include:

  • giving them information, such as about other services in the community
  • supporting them as parents or expectant parents, including linking them in with services that will support them
  • supporting them to connect with their whānau, family, hapū and iwi if they wish
  • assisting them to access legal advice, counselling or other services in their community
  • assisting them to obtain accommodation
  • assisting them to access financial assistance available from other agencies for emergency needs — for example, the Special Needs Grant that is available from Work and Income to meet emergency needs
  • providing financial assistance, where it’s appropriate for Oranga Tamariki to do so, in regard to accommodation or meeting 'emergency' needs right now, if these cannot be met in a timely manner by another agency, such as Work and Income
  • assisting them to enrol in education or training, including access to the services and grants available through Work and Income's employment and training grants and services
  • providing them with a financial contribution or grant necessary for expenses linked to events, such as seeking or keeping employment, or attending a course, where all other financial assistance has been first considered or isn't available.

We must always provide advice and assistance in a way that enhances and develops the capabilities of the rangatahi to be independent, and strengthens their avenues of support from the range of providers or services relevant to their needs and available in their community.

Engaging with supports

The needs of rangatahi aren't able to be met through one relationship alone. We need to focus on ways to support them to connect to or maintain a wider support network. This takes time and effort and needs to remain a focus long term when considering the needs of rangatahi transitioning to adulthood.

If we believe rangatahi would benefit from having personal contact with someone who can help them and they don't already have a transition worker from an approved provider, with their consent we can make a referral for a transition worker. This is particularly where eligible rangatahi are under age 21, but also if a specific need makes this appropriate for those up to age 25, even if for a short time to help them through a challenging situation. This is true even when the rangatahi has previously declined this support. If rangatahi doesn't want the support of a transition worker, think of other supports rangatahi can be linked with.  

If rangatahi are seeking assistance with new or unmet education, training and employment needs, these would usually need to be considered in the context of their transition plan. If they aren't clear about their goals, this may signal the need for a transition worker to work with them on this. Their transition worker may be able to provide advice or help with the process of connecting rangatahi with services if required.

Financial assistance

Financial assistance may include but isn’t limited to:

  • financial contributions or grants connected with attending education or training
  • short-term financial assistance to obtain or maintain accommodation, including expenses incurred in enabling them to live near their place of employment or training
  • contributions to purchase glasses or hearing aids
  • contributions to meet immediate and urgent needs.

Assistance with immediate and urgent needs could include but isn't limited to:

  • emergency accommodation
  • food.

Work and Income has grants and assistance available to assist with immediate and urgent needs, so the first step is to consider this, and support access.

Where the rangatahi has approached us about a need that will require financial assistance, we must work through the TSS Financial Assistance Decision-making Framework. This section provides guidance on using the tool.

The TSS financial assistance decision-making framework is a tool to help decide the financial assistance to provide. If the rangatahi has approached us with an urgent need, it is important that their needs are addressed. This requires:

  • a good understanding of the needs of the rangatahi
  • consideration of how these needs might best be met
  • considering what may be behind their current request, and whether support is required to address any underlying problems.

Guideline for using the TSS financial assistance decision-making framework

Financial assistance decision-making framework — flowchart (PDF 86 KB)

1 Is other assistance available?

Identify the specific needs that require financial assistance, and the amounts required to meet the needs.

Find out how the rangatahi is currently financially supporting themselves to check there is no potential overlap in funding from another agency. 

For each particular need, identify what financial assistance is usually available from other agencies to meet those needs — and is able to meet that need within the time required (see step 2).

As an example, Work and Income has a range of financial assistance available:

  • a Special Needs Grant can be applied for to meet emergency costs whether or not the person is eligible for a benefit — including emergencies that require food, bedding, clothing
  • if the rangatahi requests financial assistance to assist with education, training or employment, we must ensure first that they are accessing the employment services available through Work and Income's Youth or Adult Services.

Check on behalf of the rangatahi as to what Work and Income can provide.

Where assistance is generally available from another agency, the first step is to support the rangatahi to access that support. This may include assisting them in making appointments, advocating on their behalf and liaising with the relevant agency staff.

2 Is it an emergency need?

If the rangatahi is experiencing a crisis which is fundamentally impacting their safety or wellbeing right now, take appropriate immediate action if exploring other options would cause undue delay. In all other cases, if the rangatahi needs assistance including in an emergency with expenses related to basic needs such as for food or clothing, we must first be satisfied that reasonable steps have been taken to access support for emergency needs available from the usual agencies, or that this is not practicable in the circumstances.

Where universal services can financially assist, consider the timeliness of this assistance and refer to these first. Where the emergency needs of rangatahi can't be met by support such as a Special Needs Grant, the reasons for this must be clearly documented.

Financial assistance can be considered, up to a maximum delegated payment. Manager approval is required to go above this limit.

If the rangatahi has made a number of requests for financial assistance, this may be an indication that they are needing support from a transition worker, if one isn't allocated yet. We can refer them to someone who can help them develop a budget (this might be a transition worker), so that they can figure out exactly what they need and how to manage those needs. We should record any steps we take to advise and support rangatahi around their financial management.

3 Will it help achieve independence?

If the needs don't relate to an emergency or crisis, consider how the expenses relate to goals and actions in their transition plan relevant to achieving independence.

Key enablers of independence include a sense of identity and connectedness, stable housing, good health, and education, training and employment.

Review the plan that supports transition arrangements for the rangatahi:

  • Where the assistance is necessary to support goals and actions covered in the plan, and is not reasonably able to be met by financial assistance from other agencies, then this step is met and financial assistance can be provided.
  • If the assistance is not consistent with the goals and actions set out in the plan that support achieving independence, then consider whether:
    • the costs are reasonable in terms of supporting them to achieve independence — for example, costs linked to maintaining employment, education or training
    • it is or is not practicable to get assistance from other agencies for these costs
    • the rangatahi thinks the plan needs to be updated to reflect new goals and actions.

4 Is the request reasonable and practical (having regard to needs)?


  • is the expense a necessary and typical purchase for the rangatahi?
  • is it necessary, in order for their goal for independence to be achieved?
  • is the expense reasonable in the circumstances — affordable and reasonably priced?
  • is a contribution appropriate, rather than meeting the full cost?
  • what will the impact on the rangatahi be if the assistance is not provided?

Where the request for financial assistance is reasonable and practicable, financial assistance can be considered, up to a maximum delegated payment. Manager approval is required to go above this limit.

Step 4b — Do they have high or complex needs?

This step determines whether the rangatahi may be eligible for a higher amount of financial assistance because they have high and complex needs. For example, they may have a range of needs that require support, and require a higher financial contribution.

  • Where this applies, financial assistance can be provided up to the delegated amount set for rangatahi with high and complex needs.
  • Otherwise, the standard delegated amount applies.
  • Assistance above these thresholds requires approval from the manager.

Making payments

If rangatahi are eligible for financial assistance, it will usually be paid directly to them. However, there are circumstances where direct payment may not be suitable, particularly if:

  • rangatahi have difficulty managing their finances
  • they have requested that we make the payment directly to a third party, or
  • we have assessed that they are likely to use this support for something other than the intended need.

This is particularly true where large lump sums of money are concerned. If a decision is made not to pay rangatahi directly, discuss this with them and record this, and the reason, on CYRAS.