Noho ake Oranga – permanency and enhancing wellbeing for mokopuna in care — Policy

Updated: 01 April 2017

What's Important To Us

Mokopuna achieve their greatest potential in families/whānau where they are safe, secure and have a sense of belonging and connectedness. Mokopuna in the custody of the chief executive have the right to stability of care which provides them with this experience.

When it is not possible for mokopuna to return to their parents or usual guardians’ care we must find them a family/whānau where they will feel loved, wanted, and valued and where their significant connections are maintained. Securing a permanent care arrangement for mokopuna is key to promoting their sense of identity and belonging.

This policy describes and responds to the permanent care needs of mokopuna in the custody of the chief executive. It outlines the critical requirements when returning mokopuna to the care of their parents or usual guardians and when making permanent care arrangements for those unable to return home.

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Noho ake Oranga – permanent care needs of mokopuna

Noho ake Oranga is defined as a permanent care arrangement that provides continuity of relationships with nurturing adults where there is a sense of emotional, cultural and personal belonging, and the opportunity for life long attachments.

For all mokopuna, this includes building and maintaining important relationships, ensuring that these connections are enduring, enabling access to cultural beliefs, practices and values, and developing links to significant places.

Noho ake Oranga is embedded within the principle of Kaitiakitanga, and in this context is used to describe ‘being securely nestled within a permanent setting or environment that strengthens wellbeing’.

Kaitiakitanga is one of the guiding principles in Te Toka Tumoana, the Oranga Tamariki indigenous and bi-cultural principled framework for working with Māori. Kaitiakitanga is a broad term which describes the concepts of guardianship, protection and care. It refers to the roles, responsibilities and obligations to protect, keep safe, support and sustain.

Alongside of Kaitiakitanga, the guiding principles of Whakapapa, Manaakitanga, Whakamanawa, and Tikanga must also be embedded in our practice when supporting permanent caregivers in meeting the wellbeing needs of mokopuna.

The key concepts of each principle enhance the well-being of mokopuna through:

  • positive relationships that provide a sense of connection and belonging, including a strong attachment to at least one significant adult
  • a safe and secure environment that supports physical, emotional and cultural wellbeing
  • positive physical, mental, social and emotional health, including freedom from abuse
  • access to a range of education, training and learning opportunities
  • access to play, leisure, cultural and spiritual activities
  • feeling listened to and treated with respect

The principles outlined in Te Toka Tumoana and Va’aifetu highlight the importance of mokopuna and family/whānau (particularly birth parents/guardians and other immediate family/whānau members) being at the centre of decision-making and permanency planning.

Achieving Noho ake Oranga

Noho ake Oranga is achieved by mokopuna living with a parent/guardian, living with immediate or extended family/ whānau, or living with a new family/ whānau.

Where a permanent living arrangement cannot be achieved for mokopuna over the age of 15, they must be supported to achieve safe and stable independent living.

A permanency outcome must be sought for all mokopuna who are:

  • subject to the custody of the chief executive under s78, s101, s102, s110 (2) of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989
  • living with caregivers outside their normal home.

Towards independence policy

Securing permanency

Developing and reviewing the plan for a mokopuna

Mokopuna must have a plan that addresses their permanent care needs, within three months of entering care.

The plan must:

  • include primary and concurrent permanent care outcomes to ensure mokopuna do not drift in care
  • be reviewed every three months with the mokopuna, family/whānau, caregivers and others named in the plan - informally or through a family group conference or the Family Court.

The mokopuna must be encouraged and assisted to participate in the preparation and reviewing of plans and in decisions that significantly affect them to a degree appropriate for their age and maturity.

Reasonable opportunities must be given for the mokopuna to freely express their views and support provided to them to do so as required. The view of the mokopuna must be taken into account.

Caring for children and young people policy

Participation and views of children and young people policy

Planning and reviewing

The permanent care outcomes

There are four permanent care outcomes for mokopuna:

1. Living with parent/guardian/person previously having care of them

This is when a mokopuna is living permanently with a parent/guardian/person who previously cared for them. Custody orders in favour of the chief executive are discharged. Priority must be given to returning mokopuna to the care of their parents or usual guardian if this meets their best interests and their safety and wellbeing needs.

Consideration must be given to whether the parent or usual guardian meets the criteria for assessment of a parent of a subsequent child.

If mokopuna are unable to return to the care of their parents or usual guardian then a permanent care arrangement with immediate or wider family/whānau must be the next consideration.

Note: the ‘return home’ permanency goal is only used if the mokopuna is being returned to the caregiver who had the previous care of them (before they were placed in the custody of the chief executive).

It is not appropriate to select this as a goal when the mokopuna is being placed with a parent who has never previously cared for the mokopuna. In this situation, a permanency goal of “placement with family/whānau’ is the correct choice.

Caring for children and young people policy

Returning children and young people safely home

Use of support orders

2. Living with family/whānau

This means that the mokopuna is either living permanently with an approved family/whānau caregiver or a parent who has not previously had the care of them. Custody orders in favour of the chief executive are discharged and legal orders to support the permanent care arrangement have been secured.

In some circumstances family/whānau may take the decision to care permanently for mokopuna without taking legal orders. This must be carefully considered and sanctioned at a family group conference.

If a permanent home with family/whānau cannot be achieved, permanent care with non-family/whānau becomes the primary goal. This decision must be reached through a planning meeting, ensuring that all parties are in agreement and the care arrangement is considered to be in the best interests of mokopuna.

Prior to actively seeking to make a placement with non-family/ whānau permanent, a child and family consult must occur.

3. Living with non-family/whānau

This means that the mokopuna is living permanently with an approved non-family/whānau caregiver/s. Custody orders in favour of the chief executive are discharged and legal orders to support the permanent care arrangement have been secured.

4. Achieving independence

Where a mokopuna in the custody of the chief executive reaches the age of 15 and is unable to safely return home or achieve a permanent care arrangement, then their social worker must take steps to plan their transition to independence, guided by the Towards independence policy.

Supporting permanent caregivers

In order to support family/whānau caregivers or non-family/whānau caregivers to provide permanent care for mokopuna we must follow the practice guidance for supporting permanent caregivers.

Custody retained by the chief executive

For a small number of mokopuna, it may be appropriate for custody orders to remain in favour of the chief executive, despite a commitment by the caregiver to provide long-term, secure care. This decision will be reached through comprehensive assessment and proactive planning, ensuring it is in the best interests of the mokopuna for the chief executive to retain custody. The permanent care outcomes in these situations are:

  • Living with family/whānau: The mokopuna is living with approved family/whānau caregivers. The placement is stable and secure and deeemd to be in the best interests of the mokopuna. Custody orders in favour of the chief executive are retained.
  • Living with non-family/whānau: The mokopuna is living with approved non-family/whānau caregivers. The placement is stable and secure and deemed to be in the best interests of the mokopuna. Custody orders in favour of the chief executive are retained.

Caring for children and young people policy.

Timeframes for achieving a permanent care outcome for mokopuna

The key decisions for mokopuna under five years of age, at the time of coming into care are:

Timeframe

Decision to be made regarding

Within three months of coming into care

Permanent care outcomes are agreed

Within six months of coming into care

Active implementation of the permanent care plan

Within 12 months of coming into care

Mokopuna will be in a permanent living arrangement if they have been unable to return home

Within 18 months of coming into care

Legal orders to support the permanent care living arrangement are sought

The key decisions for mokopuna over the age of five years, at the time of coming into care are:

Timeframe

Decision to be made regarding

Within three months of coming into care

Permanent care outcomes are agreed

Within 12 months of coming into care

Active implementation of the permanent care plan

Within 18 months of coming into care

Mokopuna will be in permanent living arrangement if they are unable to return home

Within 24 months of coming into care

Legal orders to support the permanent care living arrangement are sought

Where there is deviation from these timeframes a case consult must occur and the rationale for the deviation should be clearly recorded in CYRAS.