Caregiver support — Policy

Updated: 19 September 2018

This policy applies to Oranga Tamariki approved caregivers (both family/whānau and non-family/whānau) who are caring for children and young people in the care or custody of the Chief Executive.

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Support during assessment and approval

As part of the assessment process, the caregiver social worker must talk with the caregiver about their roles and responsibilities, and the nature of the support and entitlements they will receive from Oranga Tamariki.

The social worker must ensure that the caregiver has a good understanding of these.

Once the caregiver is approved

Upon approval, caregivers must be:

  • given a copy of the Foster care handbook
  • given a copy of the Children’s Charter. The charter must be discussed and explored with the caregivers to ensure that they understand their role in realising its objectives
  • be informed about the feedback and complaints process, and how tamariki can access it.

Foster care handbook (PDF 1.9 MB)

What I can expect when I'm in care (Children's Charter)

Financial support

At the time of placement and at regular intervals thereafter, the social worker for te tamaiti will discuss their care needs with the caregiver, and how these needs are going to be financially supported.

The caregiver social worker will liaise with the social worker for te tamaiti to advocate for the caregiver where new needs are identified or the caregiver has raised concerns.

All approved caregivers with tamariki in their care must receive:

  • the foster care allowance payment at the rate set by the Chief Executive — they must not receive a lesser rate
  • a four-weekly clothing allowance payment to meet reasonable clothing needs (including school uniforms) for tamariki in placements that are intended to be ongoing
  • the standard payment of $20.00 per fortnight per tamaiti to cover small cost items like additional school stationery or a prescription charge
  • pocket money on behalf of each tamaiti, paid with the foster care allowance
  • a birthday and Christmas allowance for each tamaiti to use on celebrations and presents — each allowance is half the board payment and is paid with the foster care allowance
  • reimbursement for health, education and recreation costs — these costs must be preapproved by the site manager.

Current foster care allowance rates

Foster care allowances

Small cost payment

If ongoing costs are using a significant portion of the $20.00 small cost payment, consideration must be given to reimbursement of those costs.

Pocket money 

Pocket money must never be removed from tamariki as a punishment. If pocket money is to be used for a specific cost, such as payment for damage to property, the caregiver should seek the agreement of the social worker for te tamaiti first.

Higher foster care allowance for additional or special needs

Where te tamaiti has additional or special needs, they may qualify for the higher foster care allowance.

Tamariki with high needs

Compensation for deliberate (non-accidental) damage

Caregivers whose property is damaged by tamariki in their care may be compensated for the cost of the damage, if it's not covered by their insurance and meets our requirements.

Managing caregiver claims

Payment of support organisation fees

When a newly approved caregiver joins a recognised caregiver support organisation, their first two years of fees will be paid for by Oranga Tamariki National Office. The caregiver is responsible for payment of any fees after the first two years.

Social worker support

Every caregiver will have a caregiver social worker allocated to them to provide support, including information, advice and assistance, knowledge and guidance, access to training and skills development and respite care.

The caregiver social worker and the social worker for te tamaiti will coordinate their visits to the caregiver and share information from these visits.

Visits by the caregiver social worker to the caregiver

It is the caregiver social worker's responsibility to visit the caregiver once a week for the first four weeks of a placement, and then to visit at a minimum of every eight weeks thereafter.

Contact with the caregiver will focus on:

  • child safety interests and wellbeing
  • the progress of the plan for te tamaiti
  • how they are managing te tamaiti (e.g. settling in, transitioning, behavioural issues)
  • what is working well and areas where there are issues or challenges
  • contact with parents and whānau, and maintaining whānau connections
  • any support they require to deliver safe and appropriate care
  • the caregiver’s personal learning and development plan.

Any issues that are specific to te tamaiti will be case noted and communicated with their social worker.

Visits by the social worker for te tamaiti to the caregiver

The social worker for te tamaiti will visit the caregiver as required to ensure their ongoing safety and wellbeing. This visit may occur in conjunction with a visit to te tamaiti or independently. These visits will be communicated to the caregiver social worker and efforts made to ensure a coordinated response to meet tamaiti and caregiver needs.

Contact with the caregiver will focus on:

  • child safety interests and wellbeing
  • the progress of the plan for te tamaiti and related activity
  • the caregiver’s responsibilities under that plan
  • matters relating to the provision of care to te tamaiti
  • routine matters – ensuring board payments, clothing needs, contact with family/whānau and any other needs are being addressed.

This visit will be case noted and communicated with the caregiver social worker.

Caregiver support during investigations of allegations

When a caregiver is the subject of an allegation of abuse, they must be supported during the investigation or assessment. The level of support required will be led by the caregiver.

The caregiver will be supported by:

  • their caregiver social worker if they are an Oranga Tamariki caregiver
  • their provider agency if they are a section 396 provider caregiver.

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 provided with written information about the allegation support service offered by Fostering Kids NZ.

We must consider whether the caregiver needs support from someone of their culture, and provide this if possible. A translator must be provided if required.

Policy: Allegations of abuse, neglect, or harm of tamariki by caregivers

Training and professional development for caregivers

We must encourage our caregivers to take part in learning and training opportunities, and support them to do so.

Oranga Tamariki caregivers must:

  • attend the Ways to Care preparation programme. Family/whānau caregivers can have this learning delivered to them through alternative means if necessary
  • have a personal learning and development plan that is reviewed at least annually by the caregiver social worker
  • be encouraged and given the opportunity to participate in a variety of learning/training events including those delivered through the National Caregiver Training Programme
  • engage in training and guidance to keep tamariki in care safe
  • be encouraged and given the opportunity to participate in post-placement training that is relevant to the needs of the specific tamaiti placed with them
  • be encouraged and given the opportunity to meet with other caregivers.

Ways to Care programme

National Caregiver Training Programme (NCTP)

Permanent care support

We can offer legal support for caregivers seeking custody or guardianship orders. A separate support package is offered to all our permanent caregivers.

Legal support for custody or guardianship matters

If deemed in the best interests of te tamaiti, Oranga Tamariki will pay the agreed reasonable legal fees incurred by caregivers of tamariki in the custody of the Chief Executive who are:

  • seeking custody and guardianship orders under the Care of Children Act 2004 or Special Guardianship under the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 in their favour to support a permanent living arrangement for a tamaiti in their care
  • seeking orders post permanency to address guardianship or contact matters
  • defending applications by parents or other family/whānau to vary orders made in favour of caregivers.

Securing a permanent living arrangement

Support for permanent caregivers

All permanent caregivers, as defined by the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 or by policy, have access to a package of support that will extend beyond the discharge of orders against the Chief Executive.

The permanent caregiver support package includes an individualised, needs based support plan for tamariki and caregivers, which will be agreed to before orders against the Chief Executive are discharged. This support is managed by the Permanent Caregiver Support Service under delegation from the Chief Executive.

Support for permanent caregivers