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COVID-19: implications for our practice

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Printed: 29/09/2021
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Last updated: 31/03/2021

Family group conferences for care and/or protection concerns

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

Upcoming changes for this policy

This content will be strengthened so it more completely reflects our commitment to practice framed by te Tiriti o Waitangi, based on a mana-enhancing paradigm for practice, and drawing from ​Te Ao Māori principles of oranga to support mana tamaiti, whakapapa and whanaungatanga. We each need to consider how we can apply these principles to our practice when reading this policy. The following resources provide support:
Practice for working effectively with Māori
Our practice shift

Updates made to policy

This policy replaces ‘Seeking solutions with families’. The new policy focuses on:

  • engaging with te tamaiti or rangatahi and their whānau or family in hui ā-whānau or a family meeting before the family group conference – this gives whānau or family time to understand our concerns before the conference and provides an opportunity to explore solutions in preparation for the conference
  • encouraging and assisting whānau or family to identify significant people who they could invite to attend and participate in their family group conference, including whānau or family, hapū and iwi members – Māori specialist roles such as kairaranga ā-whānau can help identify and engage with whānau, hapū, iwi and other significant people when working with tamariki Māori
  • working in partnership to make a plan, and considering an adjournment if solutions cannot be adequately identified or agreed on – an adjournment could provide people with time to consider the issues and identify potential solutions.

When this policy applies

This policy applies when the belief has been formed that a tamaiti is in need of care and/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 youth justice family group conferences (including referrals under section 14(1)(e)).

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 is in need of care and/or protection
  • specific risks (linked to the care and protection concerns under section 14(1) of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989)
  • the views and wishes of both te tamaiti 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 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.

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 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 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.

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.

The approved service may have referred te tamaiti 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 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.