Updated: 25 October 2012
Allegations against caregivers will be addressed with the well-being and safety of a child/young person at the forefront of concerns. The allegation process is to be transparent and in accordance with the principles of natural justice, accountability and consistency. Each allegation will be promptly and thoroughly addressed.
Oranga Tamariki will address the issue whilst preserving the dignity, integrity and well-being of the caregiving family/whānau.
In all actions by social workers the paramountcy of the child or young person is the most important consideration.
This policy identifies the steps in the process of responding to allegations against caregivers including how the assessment/investigation is carried out, who needs to be involved and how the outcome of the assessment/investigation is managed.
A complaint about the caregiver’s standard of care, conduct or child and young person interaction not involving an allegation of abuse, neglect or harm will be dealt with under the Oranga Tamariki complaints process.
An allegation that a child or young person is being, or is likely to be, abused, neglected or harmed by a caregiver will receive a Oranga Tamariki response. The usual process for considering the pathway decision will be followed.
The Assessment and decision making policy outlines the process to ensure safety of the child or young person who is a victim of the alleged wrong-doing and any other children in the household during the assessment/investigation.
The assessment/investigation must be carried out by two Oranga Tamariki social workers (one being an experienced practitioner) who are neither the child or young person's social worker nor the caregiver's social worker.
The practice leader and site manager must be advised immediately of any allegations against caregivers.
The decision whether to advise parents of the allegations prior to the investigation/assessment is made by the practice leader in consultation with a solicitor.
When the assessment/investigation is complete, the social worker must prepare an outcome report summarising their findings, making recommendations regarding caregiver status, and outlining any action required by the caregiver.
The draft outcome report will be presented to the practice leader for agreement in principle. The assessing/investigating social worker and a supervisor will then provide the report to the caregivers in person.
Once the caregivers had had the opportunity to provide comment and feedback, the outcome report will be completed and provided to the practice leader.
The practice leader must provide the completed outcome report to the caregivers and give them an opportunity for a face-to-face meeting to discuss the outcome report and recommendations. Only then can a final decision be reached regarding the outcomes, including caregiver status.
The practice leader must provide the caregivers with a letter regarding the final outcome of the assessment/investigation within 30 working days of the notification being received.
The assessment/investigation must be completed, and the draft outcome report provided to the caregivers, within 20 working days of the report of concern being received.
The letter to the caregivers outlining the final decision, rationale and any actions required must be sent within 30 working days of the report of concern being received.
The practice leader can extend timeframes in exceptional circumstances. In such cases the caregiver must be informed about the delay in writing, and provided with a reasonable timeframe to expect the assessment/investigation and report to be completed.
The child or young person 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.
Caregivers must be provided with clear information about the allegation and the process being undertaken, as soon as is practicable.
Caregivers should be advised if their case has been referred to Police under the Child Protection Protocol.
Caregivers must be supported during the process of an assessment/investigation by their caregiver social worker. Upon being advised of the allegation, they must be provided with written information about the support programme (provided by Fostering Kids). The caregivers must also be encouraged to seek support from friends and family/whānau, and any other person or service they choose to nominate.
An interpreter must be offered if required.
The usual recording requirements of an intake and assessment/investigation on the child or young person's CYRAS file is required. In addition, the intake and outcome report of the assessment/investigation must be recorded on the caregiver's CYRAS file.
Whilst the assessment/investigation is being carried out, the caregiver's status must be changed to 'Under Investigation', and no further children or young people placed in their care.
Oranga Tamariki has a collaborative and consultative approach with the s.396 provider when assessing/investigating allegations against their caregivers.
Consideration needs to be given to whether or not the case fits the criteria for referral to Police under the Child Protection Protocol.
The caregiver is informed of the allegation and subsequent assessment/investigation process, unless such advice would prejudice either the assessment/investigation or the interests of the child or young person. The supervisor must advise the s.396 provider of the allegation and the social worker must plan the assessment/investigation in consultation with the provider. If the social worker or supervisor is uncertain about the extent of disclosure of information to the s396 provider, she or he should seek legal advice.
Oranga Tamariki will lead the assessment/investigation and take responsibility for decision-making. Where appropriate, a provider social worker will be a co-worker or an advisor to the assessment/investigation.
The practice leader, site manager, regional approvals and funding and contracting team leaders, and the national manager of approvals must be advised of the allegation and the outcome.
It is expected that the s.396 provider will provide support to their caregiver throughout the assessment/investigation process. Support from Fostering Kids is available to s.396 caregivers.
s.396 providers are required to report any allegations of abuse or neglect to Oranga Tamariki, and are also responsible for following up complaints about their caregivers.