Updated: 19 September 2018
It is important that we understand the difference between an allegation of abuse, neglect, or harm by a caregiver and a complaint about the conduct of, or care provided by, a caregiver, as our response will be different.
All allegations and complaints should be taken seriously and responded to with sensitivity. While the safety and well-being of the child or young person is at the forefront of our response, we must preserve the dignity, integrity and well-being of the caregiving whānau.
How to respond to allegations, including keeping tamariki safe, carrying out the assessment or investigation, and managing the outcome report and review.
This policy applies when an allegation of abuse, neglect or harm of tamariki has been made against:
This policy doesn't apply to complaints, or if the allegations are of criminal behaviour other than abuse, neglect or harm.
An allegation that a tamaiti is being, or is likely to be, abused, neglected, or harmed by their caregiver must be recorded as a report of concern and investigated or assessed by Oranga Tamariki following our usual processes.
As with any allegation of abuse, neglect, or harm, the process for understanding and resolving the concerns must:
The investigation or assessment must be carried out by two Oranga Tamariki social workers, who must not be the allocated social worker for te tamaiti or the caregiver social worker. This helps to prevent a conflict of interest for the investigating social workers and enables the allocated social worker for te tamaiti and the caregiver social worker to focus on supporting te tamaiti and the caregiver.
The investigating social workers must seek information from the social worker for te tamaiti and the caregiver social worker to assist with planning and undertaking the investigation or assessment.
The site manager/youth justice manager must be immediately advised of any allegations of abuse, neglect, or harm of a tamaiti by an Oranga Tamariki caregiver. This will then be escalated through management lines in accordance with the serious issues processes.
Refer to the Child Protection Protocol (CPP) to identify when the Police must be informed of the concerns. If in doubt, refer the allegation for a CPP consultation.
Te tamaiti must be advised of the outcome of the investigation or assessment verbally. Details of this conversation must be recorded on the CYRAS record for te tamaiti.
Te tamaiti must be told:
We must provide all caregivers with clear information about the allegation as soon as is practical and inform them that we will complete an investigation or assessment of the allegation.
Caregivers must be informed:
Caregivers must also be provided with the Fostering Kids NZ Allegation support for caregivers information sheet and Supporting caregivers to provide safe and nurturing homes brochure.
Allegation support for caregivers information sheet — Fostering Kids NZ
Supporting caregivers to provide safe and nurturing homes — Fostering Kids NZ
Oranga Tamariki must tell a section 396 provider about an allegation against one of their caregivers before we contact the caregiver.
We must also tell the caregiver that the section 396 provider has been informed of the allegation and will receive a copy of the draft and final outcome reports.
If there is uncertainty about the extent of disclosure of information to the section 396 provider, seek legal advice.
The caregiver must be advised that the matter has been referred to Police.
The supervisor and their police counterpart will discuss:
The supervisor must ensure that police know there is a 20 working day timeframe for Oranga Tamariki to complete their investigation or assessment.
Oranga Tamariki must also ensure that the:
are advised of the allegation when it is received and again at the outcome of the investigation or assessment.
Unless it's believed that doing so will put te tamaiti or the caregiver at risk of harm, we must advise parents as soon as possible of the allegation.
We must advise parents of:
Parents must be informed if te tamaiti will remain with the caregiver, or be placed in an alternative living arrangement, and the rationale for either decision.
The investigating social workers, the social worker for te tamaiti, and the caregiver social worker will discuss how and when the parents will be informed about the allegation and the placement decisions, taking into consideration any safety concerns for the caregivers or tamariki that may arise as a result.
The site manager must be advised if we believe that advising a parent poses a risk to tamariki or the caregiver.
The site manager, in consultation with a Ministry solicitor, may decide to withhold information about an allegation and placement from a parent. Where the social worker for te tamaiti is a youth justice social worker, the youth justice manager must be consulted in this decision-making.
If we decide not to advise the parents, we must:
When an allegation of abuse, neglect, or harm of a tamaiti by a caregiver is made, the safety of te tamaiti — and any other tamariki in the caregiver's home — is our foremost concern.
We must consider whether it's in the best interests of te tamaiti to remain in their placement or be placed in an alternative placement for the duration of the investigation or assessment.
If we decide to move te tamaiti, we must:
We must put a plan in place to ensure safe contact can occur between te tamaiti and the caregiver to maintain the ongoing relationships
If the investigating social workers form a view during the course of the investigation or assessment that te tamaiti could safely return to the caregiver before the full assessment or investigation and review process is complete, we must:
The social worker for te tamaiti is responsible for placement decisions, and te tamaiti may or may not return to the caregiver despite their availability.
The full assessment or investigation and the caregiver review must still be completed.
If at any time in the course of the investigation or assessment, the investigating social workers believe that the initial safety considerations for the tamaiti have changed, this must be acted upon.
Throughout the investigation or assessment process, there must be ongoing communication with te tamaiti to ensure that they are kept informed and have opportunities to express their views.
While the safety and well-being of the child or young person is at the forefront of our response, we must preserve the dignity, integrity and well-being of the caregiving whānau.
When a caregiver is the subject of an allegation of abuse, neglect, or harm they must be supported during the investigation or assessment by:
The level of support required will be led by the caregiver.
The caregiver social worker is not part of the investigation or assessment into the allegation but will be there to offer support to the caregiver. Support can be offered by:
Oranga Tamariki has a contract with Fostering Kids NZ to deliver support, information, and advice to caregivers who are the subject of an allegation of abuse, neglect, or harm.
When they are advised of the allegation, caregivers must be:
Fostering Kids NZ also have a lawyer available to advise caregivers if this is required.
Allegation support — Fostering Kids NZ
Caregivers must also be encouraged to seek support from family/whānau, friends, and any other person or service they wish to nominate.
Oranga Tamariki staff must not provide support for caregivers during investigation interviews as this is a potential conflict of interest.
The need for support by a person of the same culture must be considered and facilitated if possible. An interpreter must be offered if required.
When the investigation or assessment is complete, the investigating social workers must write an outcome report where the allegations, investigation or assessment process, and the outcome are documented.
This report must outline:
The draft outcome report must be approved by the supervisor and given to the site manager for agreement in principle.
The supervisor must communicate the outcome to the caregiver verbally and/or provide a copy of the draft outcome report to the caregivers in the manner that they have requested (eg, email, post, courier, hand delivery). This must occur within 20 working days from the time the report of concern was made.
If the caregiver is:
Once the caregivers have had the opportunity to review the draft outcome report, they must be given the opportunity to provide comment and feedback by way of a meeting, telephone conversation, or in writing, whichever is their preference.
Along with the draft outcome report, the caregiver must be provided with:
Once feedback is received, the outcome report must be:
This must occur within 25 working days from the date the report of concern was received. The timeframe may be extended if the caregivers require more time to consider the draft report and provide feedback.
The finalised report must be provided to:
The interests of tamariki and caregivers are best served by a timely response from Oranga Tamariki and this should not be compromised to align with the Police timeframe. There will be instances when our investigation will be completed before the Police complete their criminal investigation into the allegation.
We must follow the Child Protection Protocol when working with Police, by:
This timeframe is shorter than the usual investigation or assessment timeframe.
From the day the report of concern is received:
The site manager can extend the timeframe for completing the investigation or assessment in exceptional circumstances.
A written document outlining the delay, the reason for the delay and a reasonable timeframe for the investigation or assessment to be completed must be provided to:
Te tamaiti must also be advised of any new timeframe. This also applies to the parents, unless a decision has been made to not inform them of the allegation.
Once the outcome report is approved, the caregiver must have their caregiver approval status reviewed.
This will be completed by:
The review is informed by the findings of the investigation or assessment. It determines:
Where te tamaiti has remained with, or is to return to, the caregiver, their social worker must also be consulted regarding the specific needs of te tamaiti.
The review report must:
You can also make recommendations on the types of tamariki placed with the caregiver.
Within 10 working days of the date the outcome report was approved, the caregiver social worker must:
If the caregiver is being supported by Fostering Kids NZ, they can consent to a copy of the draft review report being provided directly to Fostering Kids NZ.
Along with the draft review report, the caregiver must be provided with:
Once the caregivers have had the opportunity to consider the draft review report, they must be given the opportunity to provide comment and feedback by way of a meeting, telephone conversation, or in writing, whichever is their preference.
Once the feedback from the caregivers has been received, the review report must be finalised within 15 working days of the date the outcome report was approved.
The timeframe can be extended if the caregivers require more time to consider the draft report and provide feedback.
The caregiver’s CYRAS record will also be updated to reflect the outcome of the review.
For Oranga Tamariki caregivers, the site manager must then provide them with a letter confirming the outcome of the review within 5 working days of receiving the finalised report.
The site manager can extend timeframes for the review in exceptional circumstances. In such cases, the caregiver must be informed about the delay, the reason for the delay, and provided with a reasonable timeframe to expect the review to be completed.
The caregiver social worker must monitor the completion of these and ensure they are completed within the expected timeframe.
This plan will be clearly recorded and monitored by both the caregiver social worker and the social worker for te tamaiti to ensure the support is provided and is adequate to meet the needs of te tamaiti.
The provider is responsible for ensuring that any tasks and additional support is put in place and that a copy of the review report is provided to their local Social Service Accreditation Assessor. The Social Service Accreditation Assessor is responsible for ensuring that any identified tasks are completed. The social worker for te tamaiti may also ask the provider for confirmation that the identified tasks have been completed or are underway.
When the allegation is received, we must change the caregiver's status to 'under investigation' on their CYRAS record.
We must also:
On the CYRAS record of te tamaiti, we must:
Section 396 providers must provide Oranga Tamariki with a copy of the review report for their caregivers. We must record this in CYRAS.