When this policy applies
This policy applies whenever we engage with the Family Court — preparing or filing care or protection applications, court plans and reports.
What the Family Court does
Care or protection proceedings are principally dealt with by the Family Court under the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989. The philosophy behind the Family Court is to help people to resolve their own problems through counselling, conciliation and mediation.
This is consistent with the purposes and principles of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 with its emphasis on participation in decision-making by family/whānau members. The Family Court has the power to make its own decisions and doesn’t just ‘rubber stamp’ family/whānau decisions.
This means the court may override the decisions of a family group conference. In doing this the court would need to be seriously concerned that the family group conference plan would not keep te tamaiti or rangatahi safe.
Engaging with the Family Court
Social workers must present and conduct themselves in a professional and respectful manner whenever they are engaging with the Family Court. This enhances our reputation of delivering quality service and support as required under the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989.
This should be done by writing accurate, informative, clear and concise affidavits, reports and plans and by responding in a timely manner to directions and referrals made by the Family Court and others engaged in the Court process. It also means dressing appropriately when attending court, being punctual and demonstrating respectful communication when addressing the Court.
Recording Family Court outcomes
We must ensure that the Court record for te tamaiti is accurate and any Court outcomes are recorded in CYRAS in a timely manner.
Details of te tamaiti, their family and whānau must be accurately recorded in both CYRAS and Court documents.
We must also take care to accurately record directions given by the Court. Make arrangements to obtain a copy of Court orders promptly after hearings and check that any orders accurately reflect the directions given. Any inconsistencies need to be identified and rectified quickly.
Legal status must be clearly recorded in CYRAS, along with the supporting documentation.
Reports to the Court
The Court can request reports from Oranga Tamariki under section 131 or 132 of the Care of Children Act or section 65 and s66 of the Family Violence Act 2010.
We must ensure that all reports are provided in the timely manner and in accordance with the brief set by the Court.