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Printed: 24/02/2024
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Last updated: 15/04/2020

Assessing life skills to help rangatahi transition to adulthood

We assess the life skills of rangatahi to identify their needs and ongoing support requirements as they leave our custody and transition to adulthood.

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

Supporting rangatahi to develop their life skills

When rangatahi leave our custody and transition to adulthood, they need knowledge and skills to take on new responsibilities, accomplish different tasks, access support when needed and take steps to become independent.

Rangatahi will have different levels of skill and confidence in managing aspects of their own lives, and they will need ongoing support in some areas to build a sense of confidence, responsibility and success.

Who can help rangatahi develop life skills

We help rangatahi in their life skills development as part of their ongoing activities leading up to rangatahi leaving our custody or turning 18.

Transition workers are allocated to rangatahi as they prepare to leave, and then play a key role in continuing to support them to develop their life skills and meet the goals in their All About Me plan over an extended period of time.

Family, whānau, hapū and iwi can play a key role in helping their rangatahi gain life skills where appropriate. Even if rangatahi are disconnected from their whānau or family, there may be someone in their extended family, whānau, hapū or iwi who can be helpful.

Current or previous caregivers may also provide support and encouragement to rangatahi, alongside other support people in the community, including other agencies and non-government organisations.

VOYCE Whakarongo Mai – How-to videos

Maintaining contact

Policy: Transition to adulthood — Advice and assistance

How we support rangatahi to develop life skills

1 Talk with rangatahi to assess strengths and needs

Social workers assess the life skills of rangatahi by talking with them. Social workers should facilitate rangatahi to guide and lead the process themselves, as this is their journey into independence and adulthood.

They discuss the kinds of life skills all rangatahi need in general to become young adults. They help rangatahi identify the areas where they feel confident or lack confidence, and the areas where they have experience or lack experience. Some of these skills will already be being worked on before they leave care or custody – however, many skills still require time, ongoing support and experience.

General key life skills that all rangatahi need as young adults include:

  • keeping good personal hygiene and grooming
  • managing health needs, including mental health
  • managing money and budgeting
  • shopping for groceries and personal items
  • cooking and preparing food
  • finding a suitable place to live
  • keeping the house clean and tidy
  • talking and relating appropriately to others (interpersonal skills)
  • developing confidence in their sexual or gender identity
  • keeping safe and making positive relationships
  • connecting with their culture, identity and whakapapa connections
  • developing emergency and safety skills
  • connecting with relevant services including legal advice
  • seeking and maintaining employment
  • learning new skills through ongoing education
  • developing skills related to pregnancy, parenting and childcare
  • driving and using public transport — support is available for rangatahi to access a driver licence
  • understanding healthy and intimate partner relationships.

Staff resource: Supporting rangatahi to get their driver licence

Rangatahi resource: Want help to get your driver licence? (poster) (PDF 279 KB)

Assessment of life skills — regulation 75(3)(1)(a) and (b) of National Care Standards

Some rangatahi may identify other life skills that feel right for them, such as knowing how to create connections in the community related to their cultural identity, disability needs and sexual or gender orientation. Social workers need to ask rangatahi for their views and include these in their planning.

See and engage tamariki

Using the My Rights My Voice cards and booklet

Assessing needs relating to any disability

2 Gather other information

As part of the process, social workers also:

  • work with others who can inform the life skills assessment for rangatahi
  • include their current knowledge of rangatahi and any relevant information from other assessments which can help inform the life skills assessment and plan — this is particularly important for rangatahi with multiple needs, including disability needs.

3 Record strengths and needs in Tuituia

Social workers record the life skills needs of rangatahi in the subdomain ‘Self-care and independence skills’ (under the ‘Learning and achieving’ domain in the mokopuna ora dimension).

Tuituia framework and domains

The assessment information recorded in Tuituia should be in a summary form. This should be shared with rangatahi.

4 Plan for the development of specific life skills for rangatahi

We update the All About Me plan, and include tasks and supports for rangatahi in their life skills development.

All About Me plan to meet the needs of tamariki

5 Help rangatahi develop those life skills

Rangatahi should lead their life skills development supported by their social worker and transition worker.

For rangatahi who struggle with confidence, social workers may need to help rangatahi break the skills they need into small and manageable steps and give rangatahi lots of time to practise and feel at ease. This may include facilitating rangatahi to get other supports from other people or organisations.

If rangatahi have specific delayed development, disability and emotional needs, some life skills areas and tasks will need to be adapted to meet their needs, and associated support will need to vary. In some cases, it may be necessary to access specialised support and advice.

Ideally, rangatahi will be working towards developing skills in a number of areas even before they leave care or custody — however, many skills will not be mastered until a later date, as they require time, ongoing support and experience.

Some skills areas will need to be prioritised. For example, if rangatahi plan to move into a flatting situation or they need to manage paying board on time or undertake housekeeping duties, then these may be the most important skills to focus on first.

6 Review progress with rangatahi

Social workers should talk regularly with rangatahi about their progress in developing their identified life skills and adjust the plan as needed.

The review should also involve the transition worker if they are working with rangatahi, and whānau, hapū and iwi where appropriate.