Who this policy applies to
This policy applies to care-experienced rangatahi who have left care or custody and who are entitled to remain with, or return to living with, a caregiver. This is a voluntary living arrangement supported by Oranga Tamariki.
Rangatahi are eligible if all of the following are true:
- they were 17 or younger on 1 July 2019
- they are aged from 18, up to when they turn 21 years old
- they have been in care for a continuous period of at least three months at any time from the age of 14 years and 9 months, in the care or custody of one of the following:
- the chief executive (including court wardship under section 33 of the Care of Children Act 2004)
- an iwi social service
- a cultural social service
- the director of a child and family support service.
Rangatahi are not eligible if:
- they turn 18 prior to 1 July 2019
- their only continuous period of at least three months in care was any combination of:
- residential youth justice placement (including detention)
- Police custody
- a remand or a prison sentence in the adult justice system before turning 18.
Rangatahi will usually be allocated a transition worker when they turn 16. The transition worker, if allocated, will support rangatahi who wish to return to or remain living with a caregiver. It is the responsibility of Oranga Tamariki to ensure the requirements set out in this policy are met.
Telling rangatahi about their entitlements and responsibilities
We must inform eligible rangatahi of their entitlement to remain or return to live with a caregiver from the ages of 18 to 21 during the planning for independence process.
- record on CYRAS when and how we advised an eligible rangatahi of their entitlement to remain or return to live with a caregiver
- identify and record if it is the intent of rangatahi to remain living with their existing caregiver, or another caregiver after their 18th birthday
- ensure that rangatahi understand that they are still entitled to return to living with a caregiver up to their 21st birthday. This is even if they have decided not take up the entitlement once they turn 18 years of age (for example, they chose to live independently or live with their family).
Police vetting is required for some rangatahi in some settings. We must explain the Police vetting process to rangatahi if they indicate that they want to take up the entitlement to remain or return to live with a caregiver. This is to ensure that rangatahi are prepared to agree to a request for a Police vet and are not re-traumatised by the process.
- Police vetting of rangatahi must occur if they return to live with a caregiver who is also a caregiver to tamariki with care or custody orders.
- Police vetting of rangatahi may occur if they return to live with a caregiver who has tamariki living with them who are not in the care or custody of the chief executive.
- Police vetting of a rangatahi is not required if they remain living with the caregiver when they age out of the care system on their 18th birthday when there are no other children living in the house.
Living with a caregiver – Living Arrangement Agreement
We must support the rangatahi to negotiate the Living Arrangement Agreement between rangatahi and their caregiver if it is agreed that they will remain or return to live with a caregiver.
Each Living Arrangement Agreement must take into account the needs of rangatahi and may include other matters to support rangatahi. The Living Arrangement Agreement must be documented in writing and must:
- be agreed and signed by both the caregiver and rangatahi
- be approved by a care manager in the Caregiver Recruitment and Support Team and recorded on CYRAS
- acknowledge that the arrangement is provided within the Entitlement to Remain or Return to Live with a Caregiver policy
- be consistent with the transition purposes and give effect to the principles
- include information about the financial contributions.
If rangatahi requests to move in with a non-approved caregiver, this cannot occur as part of this entitlement. This living situation would be viewed as an independent living arrangement.
We must monitor the Living Arrangement Agreement, and record our assessments of how it is or is not working, and any steps we need to take to update it if required.
Visits by caregiver social worker
The caregiver social worker must visit the caregiver once a week for the first four weeks of a living arrangement, and then at a minimum of every eight weeks thereafter. This does not apply when rangatahi remains living with the same caregiver.
Financial assistance rules when applied to Living Arrangement Agreements
- provide financial assistance to meet the reasonable costs of the living arrangement, but must first consider what other financial assistance is available to rangatahi and their personal circumstances
- support an eligible rangatahi to apply for all universal financial assistance that they are entitled to or potentially eligible for through other agencies.
The financial assistance we provide must:
- support their financial independence
- not duplicate the assistance available from other agencies.
The Living Arrangement Agreement must:
- outline any financial contribution that we will make
- outline how we will make any payments required, for example, the proportion which we will directly pay rangatahi and the proportion we will directly pay the caregiver (if any)
- detail the intended duration
- indicate when it will be reviewed, and what will happen if the living circumstances for the rangatahi change.
Living arrangement costs that rangatahi are entitled to have subsidised
It is expected that rangatahi will contribute up to 60 percent of their total net income towards their weekly board costs. A caregiver can charge up to $218.11 for weekly board costs to cover room, food and power.
Additional costs of looking after rangatahi with specific needs can be paid through recognition payments. The recognition payment amount is based on the specific needs of rangatahi and will be reviewed regularly when those needs change.
We must help rangatahi pay the standard weekly board costs, if it is required. Any financial assistance subsidy is only available while they are living with a caregiver under a Living Arrangement Agreement.
The amount that we must top up is calculated after we establish their existing income through wages, benefits and/or other income as well as any other relevant personal circumstances.
- make up any difference to the agreed, reasonable, weekly board rate for a living arrangement
- pay the board top-up directly to rangatahi, unless otherwise agreed where this is not appropriate, for example, due to the financial literacy or financial management capabilities of rangatahi.
The subsidised costs of a living arrangement will exclude:
- initial set-up costs (but these can be funded, if required, through the advice and assistance funding)
- the costs of training and/or supporting the caregiver.
Caregiver recognition payments for additional time, effort or costs
A caregiver is entitled to a recognition payment for their additional time, effort or costs connected to the needs of rangatahi. This is over and above any agreed board payment to be paid by rangatahi to their caregiver.
If a recognition payment is deemed appropriate by the care manager – Caregiver Recruitment and Support Team, the amount paid must be equivalent to any higher foster care allowance rate (HFCA) previously paid to address the needs for that rangatahi (where there is no recent HFCA rate to refer to, or it is no longer considered to be set at an appropriate level, use staff judgement to determine an appropriate level of payment).
We must record our reasons for the recognition payment or any changes to the amount paid. If a recognition payment is declined or withdrawn, this must be approved by a care manager – Caregiver Recruitment and Support Team.
We can pay our contribution to the board rate directly to the caregiver
The board rate should be paid directly to rangatahi unless we believe there is a good reason to pay it directly to the caregiver. Cases where it may be appropriate to pay a caregiver directly include:
- when rangatahi requests it
- when there are concerns about the financial management capability of rangatahi that we do not believe can be otherwise mitigated.
Before determining who to pay the board rate to, we must:
- ask rangatahi if they want us to pay the subsidy directly to them or their caregiver
- help rangatahi negotiate and establish a Living Arrangement Agreement
- support rangatahi to still be involved in the financial management of costs that aren’t related to board (including how this is agreed at the drafting of the Living Arrangement Agreement) even if the subsidy is paid directly to the caregiver.
Other sources of income considered in the top-up payment for rangatahi
We must consider all income available to rangatahi when determining a top-up payment. This will include:
- assistance from the Youth Service or Work and Income
- assistance from StudyLink
- any income reduction (for example, fees-free training under the Youth Guarantee)
- income from employment.
We have discretion to discount specific sources of funding when calculating the board top-up rate if it would be unreasonable to include them, for example, grants, scholarships or an inheritance payment. In making this determination, we must consider:
- how it was given to rangatahi
- what it is intended for
- the personal circumstances of rangatahi.
Discretion on living costs if we believe a placement is detrimental
We have discretion not to contribute to living costs through the Living Arrangement Agreement if we believe a placement would be detrimental to the wellbeing of rangatahi.
The following situations would be grounds for considering if the living arrangement with a caregiver is detrimental:
- caregiver is unable to care for rangatahi
- rangatahi has behaved, or is behaving, in a manner that is or is likely to be harmful to the physical or mental or emotional wellbeing of themselves or others, and the caregiver of rangatahi is unable or unwilling to control their behaviour
- rangatahi is being, or is likely to be, abused (whether physically, emotionally or sexually), deprived, ill-treated or neglected
- caregiver is unwilling to care for, or has abandoned, them
- development or physical or mental or emotional wellbeing of rangatahi is being, or is likely to be, impaired or neglected, and that impairment or neglect is, or is likely to be, avoidable
- rangatahi has been exposed to domestic violence
- serious differences exist between rangatahi and caregiver.
The key circumstances to understand measures of detriment are outlined in sections 14(1)(a)(i) and (ii), (b), (d)(i) and (ii) and section 14AA of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989, which contain the definition of tamariki or rangatahi in need of care or protection, and circumstances in which tamariki or rangatahi is suffering, or is likely to suffer, serious harm.
There may be other circumstances that might mean a placement is detrimental to the wellbeing of rangatahi, which should be considered on a case-by-case basis.
A detrimental placement could be:
- the result of a single incident
- two or more incidents that taken on their own would not be serious enough to constitute serious harm, but the cumulative effect of which is serious enough to cause serious harm
- the co-existence of different circumstances.
We have a process for dealing with complaints about a caregiver.
When the board top-up is not provided for a Living Arrangement Agreement
We can only withdraw the board top-up for a Living Arrangement Agreement if:
- during the course of monitoring a Living Arrangement Agreement, we determine that the living situation is detrimental to the wellbeing of rangatahi
- attempts by Oranga Tamariki have been made to resolve any concerns
- we have identified an alternative caregiver under this entitlement but rangatahi has declined to live with them.
If it is agreed that financial assistance for the Living Arrangement Agreement is removed, this must be agreed by a care manager – Caregiver Recruitment and Support Team and recorded on CYRAS. In this circumstance, the rangatahi is still entitled to receive advice and assistance, which may include supporting a rangatahi to live in a safe and appropriate independent living arrangement.
Assessing the appropriateness of the independent living arrangement is covered in the Caring for Children and Young People policy.
Accommodation responsibilities if living arrangement breaks down
We must continue to support rangatahi with accommodation options even if we withdraw the board top-up payment for the Living Arrangement Agreement.
If a living situation breaks down, rangatahi is still entitled to be supported to live with another caregiver. In this circumstance, we must continue to support that rangatahi to live with another caregiver unless:
- the caregiver does not agree, or is not available
- rangatahi does not agree to live with that caregiver
- we consider that living with that caregiver is detrimental to the wellbeing of rangatahi.
The Oranga Tamariki Caregiver Recruitment Team has the responsibility to find new caregivers as part of the entitlement to remain or return to live with a caregiver.
The established approvals policy applies when identifying appropriate caregivers.
A new policy will be required if we establish a different category of approved transition caregivers.
Complaints and allegations against caregivers
The Complaints and Allegations against Caregivers policy sets out our responsibilities and the steps we must take.
We must investigate all allegations of abuse, neglect or harm towards rangatahi by caregivers.
A caregiver review involves looking at the suitability of living situations for tamariki or rangatahi living in the care of the chief executive and includes obtaining and assessing the results of a Police vet of adults living in the household.
A caregiver review must be carried out if:
- rangatahi wishes to live with a new caregiver caring for other tamariki who are in care of the chief executive
- the caregiver wishes to care for additional tamariki in the care of the chief executive
- there are tamariki in the care of the chief executive moving into the household.
A caregiver review is not required when rangatahi:
- moves into a household with an approved caregiver where no tamariki are in the care of the chief executive
- wishes to remain with their existing caregiver and no additional tamariki in the care of the chief executive are moving into the household.