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

Updated: 07 June 2018

What's Important To Us

Tamariki achieve their greatest potential within whānau where they are safe, secure, and have a sense of belonging and connectedness. Tamariki 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 tamariki to return to their parents’ or usual guardians’ care, we must find them a whānau where they will feel loved, wanted, and valued, and where their significant connections are maintained. Securing a permanent care arrangement for tamariki is the key to promoting their sense of identity and belonging.

This policy describes and responds to the permanent care needs of tamariki in the custody of the chief executive. It outlines the critical requirements when returning tamariki 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 tamariki

Noho ake Oranga is defined as a permanent care arrangement for te tamaiti 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 tamariki, 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 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 tamariki.

The key concepts of each principle enhance the wellbeing of tamariki 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 tamariki and whānau (particularly birth parents/guardians and other immediate whānau members) being at the centre of decision-making and planning for permanent care.

Achieving Noho ake Oranga

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

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

A permanent care outcome must be sought for all tamariki who are:

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

Towards independence policy

Securing permanency

Developing and reviewing the plan for te tamaiti

Within three months of entering care, all tamariki must have a plan that addresses their permanent care needs.

The plan must:

  • include primary and concurrent goals for permanent care to ensure tamariki do not drift in care
  • be reviewed every three months with te tamaiti, whānau, caregivers and others named in the plan – informally, or through a family group conference, or in the Family Court.

Te tamaiti 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 te tamaiti to freely express their views and support provided to them to do so as required. The views of te tamaiti must be taken into account.

Caring for children and young people policy

Participation and views of children and young people policy

Planning and reviewing

Permanent care outcomes

The four standard permanent care outcomes for tamariki are:

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

This is when te tamaiti 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 te tamaiti to the care of their parent or usual guardian if this meets their safety and wellbeing needs and is in their best interests.

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

If tamariki are unable to return to the care of their parent or usual guardian, then a permanent care arrangement with immediate or wider whānau must be the next consideration.

Note: the ‘return home’ permanent care outcome is only used if te tamaiti 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 an outcome when te tamaiti is being placed with a parent who has never previously cared for them. In this situation, a permanent care outcome of 'placement with whānau' is the correct choice.

Caring for children and young people policy

Key information: Returning children and young people safely home

Use of support orders

2. Living with whānau

This means that te tamaiti is either living permanently with an approved ‘home for life’ 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, whānau may make the decision to care permanently for te tamaiti without taking legal orders. This must be carefully considered and sanctioned at a family group conference.

If a permanent home with whānau cannot be achieved, permanent care with non-whānau becomes the primary goal for permanent care. 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 te tamaiti.

3. Living with non-whānau

This means that te tamaiti is living permanently with an approved ‘home for life’ non-whānau caregiver. Custody orders in favour of the chief executive are discharged and legal orders to support the permanent care arrangement have been secured.

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

4. Achieving independence

Where te tamaiti 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, their social worker must take steps to plan their transition to independence, guided by the Towards independence policy.

Towards independence — Policy

 

Permanent care outcomes when custody is retained by the chief executive

For a small number of tamariki, 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 te tamaiti for the chief executive to retain custody. The two permanent care outcomes in these situations are:

  • Living with whānau: Te tamaiti is living with approved ‘home for life’ whānau caregivers. The placement is stable and secure and deemed to be in the best interests of te tamaiti. Custody orders in favour of the chief executive are retained.
  • Living with non-whānau: Te tamaiti is living with approved ‘home for life’ non-whānau caregivers. The placement is stable and secure and deemed to be in the best interests of te tamaiti. Custody orders in favour of the chief executive are retained.

Caring for children and young people policy.

Supporting permanent caregivers

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

Timeframes for achieving a permanent care outcome for tamariki

For tamariki who come into care under five years of age, the timeframes for decisions are:

Timeframe

Decision to be made regarding

Within three months of coming into care

Goals for permanent care are agreed

Within six months of coming into care

Active implementation of the permanent care plan

Within 12 months of coming into care

Tamariki 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 (where required)

For tamariki who come into care five years of age or over, the timeframes for decisions are:

Timeframe

Decision to be made regarding

Within three months of coming into care

Goals for permanent care are agreed

Within 12 months of coming into care

Active implementation of the permanent care plan

Within 18 months of coming into care

Tamariki 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 required)

Where the timeframes cannot be met, a case consult must occur and the rationale for the deviation should be clearly recorded in CYRAS.

Recording

It’s important that we record the progress of tamariki, who cannot return to the care of a parent or guardian or live independently, towards a permanent care living arrangement.

Two key points that must be recorded are the placement of te tamaiti in a permanent living arrangement, and the achievement of a permanent care living arrangement.

Permanent living arrangement

Te tamaiti is considered to be in a permanent living arrangement when:

  • they are placed with an approved ‘home for life’ caregiver, and
  • that caregiver has agreed to provide permanent care for te tamaiti.

When te tamaiti is placed in the permanent living arrangement and the caregiver has agree to provide permanent care for te tamaiti, the ‘home for life’ placement box, on the details tab of the placement record, must be ticked.

When te tamaiti is in a permanent living arrangement and the decision has been made that they will remain in the custody of the chief executive, this decision must be recorded in a case note using the Permanent Care – Living with family/whānau (CE custody) or Permanent Care – Living with non-family/whānau (CE custody) case note header as appropriate. The rationale for the decision must be included in the case note.

Permanent care living arrangement achieved

A permanent care living arrangement is considered to be achieved when legal orders to support the permanent care of te tamaiti have been granted and custody orders in favour of the chief executive have been discharged.

In the case of whānau who are providing a permanent care living arrangement without taking legal orders, a permanent care living arrangement is considered to be achieved when a family group conference has sanctioned the decision and custody orders in favour of the chief executive have been discharged.

When the permanent care living arrangement has been achieved, this must be recorded in a case note using the Permanent Care – Living with family/whānau (with orders) or Permanent Care – Living with family/whānau (no orders) or a Permanent Care – Living with non-family/whānau (with orders) case note header as appropriate.