Page URL: https://practice.orangatamariki.govt.nz/policy/family-group-conferences-for-care-andor-protection-concerns/
Printed: 29/11/2022
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Last updated: 14/03/2022

Family group conferences for care or protection concerns

We support tamariki and their whānau or family to create their own solutions to address care or protection concerns through the family group conference process, from referral to review, including when a family group conference is reconvened.

Updates made to policy

The updated policy focuses on the section 28(b) legislative provisions which provide the opportunity to make a plan if the family group conference agrees this is desirable for a tamaiti or rangatahi who is in need of assistance.

  • Where a family group conference is convened because the belief has been formed that te tamaiti or rangatahi is in need of care or protection, the conference may, after considering the care or protection concerns, agree that it is desirable to develop a plan to address care or protection concerns for te tamaiti or rangatahi or a plan to provide assistance for te tamaiti or rangatahi. Either plan may address care, protection, needs and oranga (wellbeing) of te tamaiti or rangatahi.
  • Both options must be presented equally to the conference without one being given preference over another.
  • Information about the family group conference process, including the ability to develop a plan based on the need of te tamaiti or rangatahi for assistance, must be provided to the whānau or family before referral.
  • The ability for the social worker to file an application to court for care or protection orders remains because the family group conference considered the care or protection grounds that led to the referral for the family group conference.

When this policy applies

This policy applies when the belief has been formed that te tamaiti or rangatahi is in need of care or protection under one or more of the grounds in section 14(1)(a)–(d) of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989.

This policy does not apply to family group conferences under section 18AAA.

This policy does not apply to family group conferences under Part 4 of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989.

Youth justice family group conference

Referral information

The referral for a family group conference must include the following information:

  • a written core assessment that supports the social worker’s belief that te tamaiti or rangatahi is in need of care and/or protection
  • specific evidenced concerns (linked to the care and protection concerns under section 14(1)(a)–(d) of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989)
  • the views and wishes of both te tamaiti or rangatahi and their whānau or family
  • the nature and significance of family, whānau, hapū, iwi or family group connections
  • organisations and professionals currently working with te tamaiti or rangatahi and their whānau or family and their involvement, including their contact details
  • a genogram identifying both paternal and maternal whānau or family
  • up-to-date contact details for whānau or family, specifying their relationships to te tamaiti or rangatahi.

When the referral has been approved by a supervisor, the social worker must meet with the care and protection coordinator to discuss the referral and confirm that they formed their belief with clear evidence.

Family group conferencing practice standard 1: Quality referral

Responsibilities of the social worker after the family group conference

The social worker must:

  • meet with te tamaiti or rangatahi and their whānau or family as soon as possible after the conference to go through the plan with them, and explain their role in it and any tasks they are responsible for
  • work in partnership with te tamaiti or rangatahi and their whānau or family to support them to complete the tasks they are responsible for in a timely manner, ensure progress is being made to achieve the outcomes identified in the plan and give everyone the best chance of successfully achieving the identified goals
  • complete the tasks they are responsible for as outlined in the plan and follow up on any other actions Oranga Tamariki is responsible for.

If, at any stage during the implementation of the plan, the social worker intends to pursue any unresolved areas of care or protection concerns, they must clearly explain their intentions and what their next steps will be to te tamaiti or rangatahi and their whānau or family so there are no surprises.

If new concerns arise during the implementation of the plan, the social worker must discuss these with te tamaiti or rangatahi and their whānau or family. These discussions will form part of their ongoing assessment and will be addressed during the reviews. If the social worker assesses te tamaiti or rangatahi is in need of care or protection under different grounds to those in the initial referral for a family group conference, they must complete a new referral.

Reconvening the family group conference

The care and protection coordinator may reconvene a family group conference to develop a new plan if the social worker or an approved service believes that the current plan no longer adequately meets the needs of te tamaiti or rangatahi.

The approved service may have referred te tamaiti or rangatahi under section 19(1)(a) and (b) or be directly involved in the implementation of the plan. 

The social worker or approved service must provide a report to the coordinator explaining why the family group conference needs to be reconvened.

The care and protection coordinator may reconvene a family group conference at their own discretion or at the request of at least 2 entitled members who participated in the conference. The care and protection coordinator must consider carefully why those members believe the conference should be reconvened and discuss these reasons with the social worker before deciding whether another conference is required.

People entitled to attend a care and protection family group conference

When reconvening a family group conference, we must ensure te tamaiti or rangatahi and whānau or family have:

  • heard and understood our concerns so there are no surprises at the family group conference
  • had the opportunity to consider and identify their own solutions
  • been supported to identify other potential family, whānau, hapū and iwi supports and resources to help address our concerns.