Updates made to policy
Updated the timeframe for the core assessment phase of an assessment or investigation, and strengthened the 'What is assessment' and 'Requirements of assessment' sections to emphasise identifying and engaging with parents/caregivers and all significant members of the wider family/whānau and family group, including hapū and iwi where relevant.
Who this policy applies to
This policy applies:
- to all tamariki with whom we work
- across all stages of our work, from intake to case closure.
Working with Māori
For quality assessments that are effective when working with Māori we must have regard to mana tamaiti (tamariki) and the whakapapa of Māori tamariki and rangatahi and the whanaungatanga responsibilities of their whānau, hapū and iwi.
As part of a suite of Māori practice resources, Te Toka Tūmoana and the Māori cultural framework provide key frameworks to support our assessment.
- access the suite of Māori practice frameworks, models, tools and guidance (as linked below) for quality practice with tamariki and whānau Māori
- use Te Toka Tūmoana alongside existing practice and tools to develop quality assessments for tamariki Māori and advance the objectives of mana tamaiti.
We must evidence this in our records.
Working with Pacific peoples — Va'aifetū
Va'aifetū is the framework that supports quality practice with Pacific children and helps us to work effectively with children and families of the different Pacific groups.
We should use Va'aifetū alongside existing practice and tools to develop quality assessments for Pacific children and young people. We must evidence this in our records and ensure that we apply the Va'aifetū practice considerations relevant to each child’s Pacific nation of origin.
What is assessment
Assessment is a continual and collaborative process used to understand the risks, needs, challenges and strengths of tamariki, their parents/caregivers and their family/whānau.
Assessment is central to all our work.
Assessment involves identifying and engaging with parents/caregivers, and all significant members of the wider family/whānau and family group, including hapū and iwi where relevant.
It will require thorough whānau searching at an early stage to widen the network of whānau who can contribute to the assessment and be involved in making good decisions for their own tamariki.
Assessment enables us to construct a roadmap for change. It:
- helps us work with tamariki, their families/whānau, family group, hapū, iwi, marae and other professionals involved in their lives
- informs quality decision-making and planning
- provides the focus for our interventions
- provides us with a collective view to build understanding.
Requirements of assessments
We must have a written assessment for each tamaiti.
All assessments are to be guided by the Tuituia assessment framework and domains.
Through the assessment, we must:
- engage directly with te tamaiti, their parents/caregivers, significant family/whānau members and the family group, and seek and reflect their views, wishes and feelings
- consider direct engagement with, and reflect the views and participation of, hapū and iwi when it may be relevant to te tamaiti
- ensure all engagement is guided by tikanga, and takes into consideration an understanding of the culture, worldview and prior experiences of the family/whānau
- include consultation with other professionals working with te tamaiti and their family/whānau, family group and hapū and iwi
- identify the strengths and immediate and long-term needs of te tamaiti
- identify the current circumstances, strengths and protective factors of the immediate and wider family, whānau and family group and consider these alongside historical information
- encourage and assist te tamaiti to freely express their views and be supported if they have difficulty in doing so
- inform te tamaiti, in a manner appropriate to their age, development, language or any disability-related needs, of the progress and timeframe for completing their assessment
- record the views of te tamaiti in the 'child or young person's views' section of the Tuituia assessment report.
Depth and breadth of the assessment
It's the responsibility of the social worker, in conjunction with their supervisor, to determine the scope of each assessment undertaken.
We should tailor the depth and breadth of the assessment according to:
- the purpose of the assessment
- the nature of the concerns
- the unique circumstances of te tamaiti
- the context of our engagement with them.
For tamariki who offend, all the dynamic risk factors must be explored across the Tuituia framework.
Dynamic risk factors
Recording the assessment
The allocated social worker must:
- complete a written assessment — the Tuituia report is the formal record of the assessment
- use the Tuituia assessment recording tool to record the analysis of the needs, strengths and risks for te tamaiti and their parents/caregivers, unless the decision at the safety and risk screen or offending profile is No Further Action (NFA) or, for the safety and risk screen, a Partnered Response (PR) — the recording tool can be used as soon as te tamaiti is entered as a client on CYRAS and can be added to and updated at any time throughout the life of the case
- keep the assessment up to date throughout the life of the case.
Where te tamaiti has more than one allocated Oranga Tamariki social worker and/or residential case leader, they must work together to ensure the Tuituia assessment is current and relevant and fully reflects the circumstances for te tamaiti.
Report of concern
When determining whether assessment is necessary or desirable we must:
- follow the intake decision response guidelines to determine the appropriate pathway and timeframe for response to a report of concern
- record the rationale for each decision on CYRAS and have it approved by a supervisor.
When a written assessment is required
The following outlines when we must undertake an assessment, complete a Tuituia report and have it approved by a supervisor.
Care and protection assessments
We must begin or update an assessment and complete a Tuituia report and have it approved by a supervisor:
- when undertaking an investigation or child and family assessment, including when a parent meets the criteria for section 18B and section 18A (subsequent child provisions)
- when a section 19(3) request for an investigation is received from a care and protection coordinator when referring for a care and protection family group conference — with the assessment and content of the report updated with information gathered in preparation for the conference
- when a decision is made to seek a custody order for te tamaiti
- as soon as practicable and no later than 6 weeks after te tamaiti enters the care or custody of the Oranga Tamariki chief executive
- when making placement decisions such as return home or another placement change
- when a social work report and plan is required in the Family Court
- when reviewing a plan (via court, a family group conference or family/whānau agreement) and not less than once every 6 months
- when new information indicates the needs or circumstances of te tamaiti have changed
- when referring for a residential or high needs placement (hub referral) — with the assessment updated and the content of the report tailored for this purpose
- prior to discharge from a residence/group home or high needs placement — this is a major change in circumstances for te tamaiti and requires the assessment of their needs, strengths and risks to be current, formally recorded and used to inform the next step
- prior to case closure if this is outside the cycle of a plan review.
Youth justice assessments
We must begin or update an assessment and complete a Tuituia report and have it approved by a supervisor:
- prior to a youth justice family group conference for all tamariki aged 10 to 13 years
- prior to a youth justice family group conference for tamariki placed on section 238(1)(d) custody for a period of at least 72 hours
- prior to a youth justice family group conference for tamariki who also have current care and protection involvement
- for any other tamariki where the pre-family group conference case consultation considers it necessary — this decision is recorded in the offending profile
- when a social work report and plan is required for a Youth Court order
- when a progress report (section 308C) for a Supervision or Supervision with Activity Order to the Youth Court is required
- on entry to a residence under a section 311 Supervision with Residence Order
- prior to discharge from a residence (other than custodial remands).
Undertaking a care and protection assessment
We must undertake a child and family assessment or an investigation when a report of concern involves an allegation that the care, safety or wellbeing of te tamaiti is being significantly compromised, thereby creating risk of serious harm for te tamaiti.
Consultation with the Care and Protection Resource Panel must occur as soon as possible after a child and family assessment or investigation has commenced. The timeframe for consulting should align with the decision response timeframe given to a report of concern.
Undertaking a child and family assessment
We undertake a child and family assessment when the report of concern involves an allegation that the care, safety or wellbeing of te tamaiti may be at risk but doesn’t indicate abuse which may constitute a criminal offence.
Undertaking an investigation
We undertake an investigation when the report of concern indicates abuse that may constitute a criminal offence.
When undertaking an investigation we must follow the Child Protection Protocol.
Timeframes for the child and family assessment or investigation
If the outcome of the initial assessment phase is either a child and family assessment or an investigation, then we must complete the core assessment phase within 20 days. Where the outcome of the core assessment phase is that te tamaiti is in need of care or protection, you must make a referral for a care and protection family group conference and complete the full assessment phase within 20 days.
Assessment of safety and risk
Te tamaiti referred for a child and family assessment or investigation must have a safety and risk screen completed within the specified decision response timeframe.
Face-to-face engagement with te tamaiti and their parent or caregiver is essential to ensure a robust assessment of safety. Te tamaiti should be encouraged and assisted to participate to a degree appropriate for their age and maturity and given reasonable opportunities and support to freely express their views. Social workers must seek the consent of their parents or guardians before engaging te tamaiti unless doing so places te tamaiti or others at risk of harm, either directly or indirectly.
Where further assessment is required following the completion of the safety and risk screen, safety must be built around te tamaiti or rangatahi.
When te tamaiti is in hospital with a suspected non-accidental injury
When a report of concern is received about a tamaiti who has been hospitalised with a suspected non-accidental injury we must work collaboratively with family/whānau and involved professionals, including Police and medical staff, to understand and meet the immediate needs of te tamaiti and keep them safe from further harm during their stay, and after leaving hospital.
- commence a collaborative and multi-disciplinary process for decision-making and planning within 24 hours of te tamaiti being admitted to hospital
- engage family/whānau as early as possible
- ensure that contact and supervision arrangements are made which reflect and address the safety and trauma-related needs of te tamaiti
- develop a plan with te tamaiti (where appropriate), family/whānau and professionals prior to discharge which outlines:
- who will care for te tamaiti
- how safety will be addressed and health needs responded to
- the provision of required support
- roles and responsibilities of professionals
- the process for monitoring and review.
When the perpetrator of a suspected non-accidental injury is unknown, agreed safety arrangements for keeping te tamaiti safe must be established with this at the forefront of planning. While efforts to build safety should be in collaboration with family/whānau they may also include consideration about whether an immediate application for a Place of Safety warrant or other legal order is necessary to secure the safety of te tamaiti. The decision will be made in consultation with a supervisor and/or practice leader, site solicitor and appropriate health representative.
Assessments of tamariki in care, custody or sole guardianship of the chief executive
Tamariki in the care, custody or sole guardianship of the Oranga Tamariki chief executive have specifically identified needs which must be covered in all needs assessments relating to them.
Your Tuituia assessment and report for tamariki in the custody or sole guardianship of the Oranga Tamariki chief executive must reflect the following areas of need along with what is required to meet those needs.
The areas of need are:
- identity and culture
- connection with family/whānau, family group, hapū, iwi and family group
- behavioural development
- play, recreation and community
- education and training
- health related
- disability related
- frequency of visits to te tamaiti.
Your assessment must also reflect the wishes, aspirations and strengths of te tamaiti.
Assessment for care transitions
When tamariki are about to have a change in their care arrangement, we must assess what they need to make the transition a positive experience. The assessment must support the transition of care arrangement until the new care arrangement is stable for te tamaiti.
Transitioning between placements
Assessing life skills
We must assess knowledge and experience of life skills needed for independent living for all rangatahi under 18 for whom section 386A of the Oranga Tamariki Act applies.
- assess the support they need to become and remain independent after they leave care
- take into account their development and any cultural and disability-related needs they may have
- record their identified needs in their Tuituia assessment.
Health and education assessments
Gateway assessments help us assess the health and education needs of tamariki for whom there are care and protection concerns. Education screens and health and education assessments are used for tamariki who have been referred for a youth justice family group conference.
Care and protection — gateway assessments
We must make a referral for a gateway assessment within 10 working days for all tamariki who enter care under sections 78, 101, 102 or 140 of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 unless:
- discussions with the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education determine they are already well engaged with services and would not benefit from a gateway assessment
- we can't obtain consent for the gateway assessment to be completed.
We must consider making a referral for a gateway assessment for:
- tamariki already in the care of Oranga Tamariki but who have not yet had a gateway assessment
- tamariki who are referred for a care and protection family group conference.
Youth justice — education screens and health and education assessments
We must complete an education screen for all tamariki referred for a youth justice family group conference.
- seek consent from te tamaiti, if the screen recommends further assessment, to make a referral for an education assessment completed by an educational psychologist from Group Special Education
- seek consent from te tamaiti to make a referral for a health assessment to be completed by an approved youth justice health assessor
- seek consent from parent or guardian.
The youth justice coordinator must seek the support of a family member for te tamaiti during the assessment process.
When tamariki who offend are brought into the care of the chief executive under sections 78, 101, 102, 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. We must implement the most appropriate course of action to meet the needs of te tamaiti.
The offending profile is an initial screen and recording tool for tamariki who have offended. It helps to decide if further assessment is required.
We must complete an offending profile and record it on CYRAS:
- the first time te tamaiti is referred or directed for a youth justice family group conference
- if te tamaiti reoffends and the offending profile is 3 or more months old.
The youth justice coordinator must ensure that the offending profile is:
- prepared for and completed at the pre-family group conference case consultation
- made available to the youth justice supervisor, social worker (where allocated), residential case leader (where te tamaiti is in residence) and others as required by the circumstances of te tamaiti, prior to the pre-family group conference case consultation.
The youth justice family group conference case consultation
A pre-family group conference case consultation must be held for every tamaiti referred for a youth justice family group conference.
- bring the offending profile and other relevant information about te tamaiti to the case consultation
- complete the case consultation within 5 working days after the referral or direction for the family group conference is received
- decide the depth and breadth of a Tuituia assessment if it is decided at the case consultation that one is required.
The youth justice coordinator must record that decision and any other outcomes of the case consultation in the offending profile on CYRAS.
Child/young person and family consult
The consult supports decision-making at any point in the social work assessment, planning, intervention and review process.
The consult must be used:
- during the care and protection assessment (child and family assessment or investigation) to inform the analysis and next steps
- for all tamariki (aged 10 to 13 years) who offend
- for all tamariki (aged 14 to17) who offend and who have a care and protection intervention which is current or has been active within the last 3 months
- when removal from or return home is considered
- as the framework for the professionals meeting held when returning te tamaiti home.
Hui ā-whānau and family meetings
Hui ā-whānau and family meetings help us work collaboratively with tamariki, their families/whānau and family group and support their participation in assessment.
Hui ā-whānau or family meetings must be used:
- across the continuum of assessment and at the earliest opportunity to engage whānau in the assessment process
- to share information with whānau about concerns for tamariki and seek their views
- to involve wider family/whānau support networks and build understanding of family/whānau strengths and needs
- to do safety planning for tamariki
- to prepare for family group conference.
Suicide, psychological distress and substance abuse (SKS) screens
We use the Kessler screen for psychological distress, the Substances and Choices Scale (SACS) for substance abuse and the suicide screen to assess whether te tamaiti has active thoughts of suicide. Together these screens are known as SKS and must be used at any point we become worried about suicide for te tamaiti.
We must use the SKS screens when:
- mental health, suicide and/or substance use are potential concerns
- significant events, trauma, behaviours and/or risk factors are present
- te tamaiti is held in police custody
- te tamaiti enters a residence, and at any time during the residential stay when mental health is identified as a concern or potential concern.
The use of these screening tools is not required where:
- a recent assessment has been undertaken by a mental health or alcohol and drug service provider that details the current level of assessed risk of suicide and/or self-harm, and
- this assessment has been recorded on CYRAS, and
- there has been no significant change to the circumstances for te tamaiti since that assessment was completed.
Even in these instances, we must still consult with a Towards Wellbeing advisor and record the results on CYRAS.
The screens are designed for use with tamariki aged 12 years and over. If you have concerns about suicide for a tamaiti under 12, or a tamaiti with an intellectual disability, talk to your local Towards Wellbeing advisor before applying the screens.