Updated: 01 April 2017
Assessment is central to all social work activity. It is the process of understanding the risks, challenges and achievements for mokopuna  and family/whānau we work with. Assessment is not an isolated event but a continual process of noticing, making sense of and responding to change and progress.
Assessment provides us with a roadmap for change. It helps us work with mokopuna, their families/whānau and other professionals involved in their lives. It informs quality decision making and planning for mokopuna, provides the focus for our interventions and keeps everyone on track.
We work in culturally responsive ways, seeking family/whānau-led solutions and collaborating with other agencies and professionals to improve outcomes for mokopuna. At all times mokopuna are at the centre of our work; they have the right to participate and express their views about actions or decisions that significantly affect them, and to have their views taken into account.
 Mokopuna describes descendent rather than being translated as a grandchild and does not denote gender or age. Mokopuna can be defined as “a reflection of one’s ancestors”, emphasising descent lines. Mokopuna in the context of the core business for Oranga Tamariki is about children and young people
This policy outlines the practice and process requirements for quality assessment and decision making, to ensure that every mokopuna who comes to our attention has a response that is unique to their needs, strengths, risks and circumstances.
Working with mokopuna and whānau Māori is a priority for Oranga Tamariki progressed through Te Toka Tumoana and considered alongside this policy.
Assessing the needs, strengths and risks for mokopuna referred to Oranga Tamariki occurs at all stages of our work - from intake to case closure, informing planning and review, placement decisions and ongoing work with mokopuna, their family/whānau, caregivers and other agencies. The Tuituia assessment considers the needs, strengths and risks for a mokopuna, and their parents/caregivers.
The Tuituia assessment framework must be used to guide the assessment. Refer to the Tuituia assessment framework guidelines and the CYRAS handbook for guidance on the use of the framework and recording tool.
All assessment activity must involve direct contact with mokopuna, their parents/caregivers, significant family/whānau members and other professionals working with them and their family/whānau.
All work undertaken must be guided by the six elements of quality assessment:
It is the responsibility of every social worker and supervisor to be familiar with the elements and to evidence them in the written assessment.
The case evaluation tool (CET) guidance notes outlines each element in detail, including how to evidence each element and how to assess the quality of the work. The CET was designed to support reflective practice in both care and protection and youth justice assessments. The case evaluation tool can be used by:
Assessment is central to all social work activity, occurring at all stages of our work – from intake to case closure. While the framework for assessment is the same for all mokopuna, the assessment itself is not.
The depth and breadth of the assessment must be tailored according to the purpose of the assessment, the nature of the concerns, the unique circumstances of each mokopuna and the context of our engagement with them.
The new 'subsequent children' provisions clarify and strengthen our obligations when we receive information (Reports of Concern) about people who meet these criteria. They are particularly high risk and we are required to undertake specific assessment of their risk of harming a 'subsequent child' in the same way as they harmed the previous child/mokopuna. The new provisions place a legal onus on the parents to demonstrate that they are unlikely to inflict this harm. The criteria is tightly specified for both the identification of these people and the assessment and information that must go to Family Court.
When a report of concern is received where a person involved meets the criteria of s18B, and as a consequence an s18A assessment is required, we must give specific attention to assessing and analysing the likelihood that the parent will inflict, or allow, the harm caused the previous child or young person to occur again with the subsequent child. A section 18A assessment is required when this person is or will become the parent of a subsequent child and have their care or custody. Section 18A requires that the assessment of that parent be brought to the attention of the Family Court, regardless of the outcome of the assessment.
It is the responsibility of the social worker in conjunction with their supervisor to determine the scope of any assessment undertaken. This means that there is a planned approach to the assessment where we outline the purpose of that assessment, the domain areas to be explored, the depth to which they are explored and how and from whom the information will be gathered.
For mokopuna who offend, all the dynamic risk factors must be explored across both the Mokopuna Ora and Kaitiaki Mokopuna dimensions.
The recording tool has been designed to enable the assessment to be added to and updated at any point as information is gathered.
Mokopuna must be given reasonable opportunities to freely express their views and be supported if they have difficulty in doing so. Any views expressed must be recorded in the 'child or young person’s views' section of the Tuituia report assessment.
Assessment informs quality decision making, planning and review for mokopuna. Therefore assessment will be undertaken and a Tuituia report completed and approved by a supervisor, at the following points:
Note: This is not an exhaustive list and there may be others times when the assessment and report is required to support a particular action or decision:
The Tuituia assessment recording tool is where the social worker records their analysis of the needs, strengths and risks for the mokopuna and their parents/caregivers. The recording tool is available for use as soon as a mokopuna is entered as a client in CYRAS and can be added to and updated at any time throughout the life of the case.
The assessment must be kept up to date throughout the duration of the case.
It is not mandatory to use the assessment recording tool if the decision at the safety and risk screen is No Further Action (NFA) or Partnered Response (PR). However, a report must be completed.
The Tuituia report is the formal record of the assessment. The report has been designed to be multi-functional, enabling the assessment to be used at various points in the case. The content of the report can and should be tailored according to the purpose for which it is being used.
Some sections of the report are populated directly from information recorded in the assessment recording tool. Refer to the Tuituia Report Guidelines for detailed information on each section of the report and how it can be tailored.
When the report is approved by a supervisor it creates a snapshot of the Tuituia assessment and ‘files’ it as a locked record in CYRAS. By creating a locked record of the assessment it enables comparisons to be made between two points in time.
The allocated social worker is responsible for recording and updating the Tuituia assessment and completing the assessment report in consultation with other government and non-government professionals working with the mokopuna, such as a care provider social worker, programme provider case worker or health and education professional.
Where a mokopuna has more than one allocated Oranga Tamariki social worker and/or residential case leader, they will work together to ensure the Tuituia assessment is current and relevant and fully reflects the circumstances for the mokopuna at that time.
On receipt of a report of concern, the intake decision response guidelines must be followed to determine the appropriate pathway and time frame for response. Where the report of concern was received at the National Contact Centre, the site will use these guidelines to confirm or amend the response and time frame.
The rationale for each decision must be recorded in CYRAS and approved by a supervisor.
The subsequent child provisions remind us that we need to be alert to people who have caused harm to children and young people in the past. The particular purpose of the s18A-D provisions is to ‘fast track’ the assessment of children who are born into a home where either parent or step-parent has caused the death of their mokopuna person or has had their mokopuna permanently removed from their care.
The s18A assessment is of that parent or step-parent who is providing or sharing the responsibility for the day to day care of a 'subsequent child'. These provisions were never intended to be applied widely. Therefore we have tight criteria for identification of this group and tight criteria for the report to court.
The level of specificity reflects the caution and careful consideration given to placing these matters before the Court on a presumption of the mokopuna being in need of care and protection without the FGC being held or other options pursued prior to that action. This is a clear signal of the desire for the Court to have oversight of these particular cases, and being involved in decisions about the appropriateness of that person having another mokopuna in their care.
Understanding what led to the removal of the mokopuna with no prospect of return, or death of a previous mokopuna, is required to determine the risks and needs for any 'subsequent child' cared for by the same person. It is also required to help us understand what help and support someone may need to parent safely in the future.
When a report of concern is made, and one or both of the parents meet the criteria of s18B, consideration must be given to whether an assessment must be completed as per s18A. The assessment uses the Tuituia framework as the guide, with particular attention to the Kaitiaki Mokopuna domain. Explore and understand all aspects of the parent’s behaviour in respect of the previous mokopuna.
Pay specific attention to:
For specific guidance to support this analysis, refer to: Key information: Subsequent children: s18A assessment by social worker
When the assessment is completed, the information gathered must be considered and analysed to form a belief about the likelihood (or not) of the kind of harm previously demonstrated, being repeated with the subsequent child.
The solicitor will help ensure the focus of the court documents meets the requirements of s18A in addressing the ‘kind of harm’; defining the role of parent or step-parent; and ensuring that the person meets the s18B criteria.
If the assessment reveals other concerns these must be dealt with in the usual way, and not included in the application to Court in respect of the s18A matters.
The social worker can only make either an application for declaration (s67) on grounds of s14(1)(ba) - the subsequent child grounds - or they will seek confirmation of the decision not to apply for an application (s18C).
Site Managers must allocate the right staff to undertake these assessments, work with solicitors and prepare Court documents.
The National Contact Centre will highlight, after reviewing the CYRAS history, if they believe a parent might meet the criteria for s18B (but is not already flagged), for the site to confirm and take the appropriate action.
In summary we must:
More information about the subsequent child provisions can be found here:
When a report of concern is received about a mokopuna person who has been hospitalised with a suspected non-accidental injury and the perpetrator is unknown, consideration will be given to the immediate application for a Place of Safety warrant or other legal order to secure their safety. This decision will be made in consultation with a supervisor and/or practice leader, site solicitor and appropriate health representative. If custody is required and granted the social worker is to ensure that appropriate supervised security and supervised contact arrangements are implemented.
A multi-disciplinary process for decision making and planning must commence within 24 hours of the mokopuna being admitted to hospital. A plan will be developed prior to discharge which outlines: who will care for the mokopuna; how safety will be addressed and health needs responded to; the provision of required supports; roles and responsibilities of professionals; and the process for monitoring and review.
There may be times where concerns are raised about the care that a mokopuna is receiving in relation to their health needs, including dental issues. In these instances work alongside health practitioners will be required to address these concerns as they are frequently very complex in terms of medical needs and social concerns.
When you think you may be dealing with neglect of medical care, refer to the neglect of medical care guidelines. These set out the agreement between District Health Boards (DHB), Oranga Tamariki and the Police relating to the management of these cases.
It is critical to understand why parents are appearing to resist and/or not engage with the recommended treatment plan and evidence this is your Tuituia assessment. There could be a number of reasons that parents do not follow through on the treatment plan and this should be fully understood prior to considering their behaviours as neglect of medical care.
Reasons for not following the treatment plan could include:
Once the reasons have been fully explored and a belief is formed that neglect of medical care is occurring, this guideline should be implemented.
An offending profile is an initial screen and recording tool for a mokopuna who has offended. It helps to decide if further assessment is required.
The youth justice co-ordinator is responsible for ensuring that the offending profile:
An offending profile will be completed and recorded in CYRAS:
The case consultation is an initial planning meeting in which the actions that need to be taken to prepare for the family group conference and the people who need to be involved, are identified.
A pre-family group conference case consultation is required for every mokopuna referred for a youth justice family group conference. The offending profile and other relevant information about the mokopuna are brought to the youth justice pre-family group conference case consultation.
The case consultation must be completed within five working days after the referral or direction for family group conference is received.
The decision as to whether a Tuituia assessment is required must be made at the case consultation.
The youth justice co-ordinator is responsible for recording that decision and any other outcomes of the case consultation in the offending profile on CYRAS.
Information must be sought from the care and protection co-ordinator if a care and protection family group conference is being convened or has been recently completed for the mokopuna.
The case consultation will be attended by:
The practice leader will chair the consultation for all children who offend and dual-status young people.
The consult supports decision making at any point in the social work assessment, planning, intervention and review process. The consult must be used at the following points:
There are a range of specialist assessments, tools and screens which are used by social workers. Where a Tuituia assessment is recorded the information obtained must be used to inform the assessment and scaling. Specialist assessments and screens include:
A referral for a Gateway assessment must be made for every mokopuna who enters care under sections 78, 101, 102, 110(2)(a), or 140 of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989. Gateway assessment referrals may also be made for children and young people when:
An education screen must be completed for every mokopuna referred for a youth justice family group conference.
If the screen recommends further assessment, consent must be sought from the mokopuna to make a referral for an education assessment completed by an educational psychologist from Group Special Education.
Where health concerns are held for a mokopuna, consent must be sought from the mokopuna to make a referral for a health assessment to be completed by an approved youth justice health assessor.
The youth justice co-ordinator must seek the support of a family member for the mokopuna during the assessment process.
When a mokopuna who offends is brought into the care of the chief executive under sections 78,101,102,110(2)(a) 139 and 140 of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 prior to the family group conference being held, the decision to proceed with either a Gateway assessment or health and education assessments will be made at the pre-family group conference case consultation. The most appropriate course of action to meet the needs of the mokopuna must be implemented.
The following screens will be used by Oranga Tamariki staff trained in their use:
The screens are designed for use with mokopuna aged 12 years and over. If you have a concern regarding suicide for a child under 12 years or a mokopuna with an intellectual disability, talk to your local Towards Wellbeing advisor before applying the screens.
These screens must be used when:
However, the use of these screening tools is not required where:
Even in these instances, consultation with a Towards Wellbeng advisor should still occur and this contact should be recorded on CYRAS.
Va’aifetu has been developed in response to calls from Pacific communities for us to do better for Pacific children and families that come to the notice of our service. In setting us this challenge, community leaders, elders, Pacific academics, and professionals in the non-government sector walked alongside our Pacific practitioners to ensure this package of knowledge represented important Pacific values, realities and world views in a meaningful way.
Va’aifetu is a practical guide on how to integrate culture into practice. It contains eight specific cultural frameworks to guide social work practice with children, young people and families of Cook Island, Niuean, Fijian (iTuakei), Indian-Fijian, Samoan, Tokelauan, Tongan and Tuvaluan cultures. The frameworks and practice guidance are shaped around relational principles particular to each culture, child rights and human rights principles.