Participation and views of children and young people — Policy

Updated: 01 April 2017

What's Important To Us

We want mokopuna to be at the centre of our work with them, to be active participants and freely express their views throughout.

Their views must be at the forefront of actions and decisions that relate to them, and for those views to inform our policies and services.

This policy brings together the key expectations when working with children and young people where Oranga Tamariki has casework responsibility (care and protection or youth justice).

This includes all children and young people involved with Oranga Tamariki via investigation and assessment, family/whānau agreements, care agreements, plans developed at a family group conference, and court orders.

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Participation and views of children and young people

Children and young people have a right to participate in, and express their views in and/or about:

  • court proceedings under the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989
  • family group conferences - convening and proceedings
  • planning - preparation of a plan and review of a plan
  • any other action or decision that significantly affects them.

Children and young people must be encouraged and assisted to participate to a degree appropriate for their age and maturity, unless the person responsible considers their participation as not appropriate.

Children and young people must be given reasonable opportunities to freely express their views on matters affecting them.

Any views they express - either directly, or through a representative - must be taken into account.

Support to express views

Support must be provided to children and young people who require assistance to express their views or to be understood.

Support can come from a:

  • family/whānau member
  • another person
  • a specialist service provider, or
  • any other service.

A support person is entitled to be present at a meeting or proceeding at which the child or young person is present (including a family group conference), for the purposes of providing support, unless the person leading the processes (the person responsible) considers it impractical or inappropriate.

Person Responsible

The following people are responsible for ensuring the child or young person has been:

  • encouraged and assisted to participate
  • given reasonable opportunities to freely express their views
  • given the support necessary to overcome difficulties in expressing their views or being understood.

For proceedings before a court - the Judge, or other person presiding, and the barrister or solicitor representing the child or young person.

For the convening and proceedings of a family group conference - the person responsible for convening the conference, (the care and protection or youth justice co-ordinator).

For planning processes - the person directed by the Court to prepare or review the plan, (the Chief Executive’s delegate, usually the social worker for the child or young person).

For any other process - the person responsible for taking the action or making the decision. Depending on the particular action or decision, this might be the social worker, an FGC co-ordinator or another delegate of the Chief Executive.

Independent services

Children and young people we are working with have a right to access independent services and be given support to express their views about:

  • matters important to them relating to their own circumstances
  • general matters relating to processes and services they have experienced under the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989.

The social worker/coordinator must ensure that the child or young person:

  • knows about the relevant independent services
  • knows how to access the relevant independent services
  • has the support they need to express their views.

Independent services include:

  • the Oranga Tamariki Feedback and Complaints mechanism
  • the grievance process within residences - Whāia Te Māramatanga
  • VOYCE Whakarongo Mai
  • The Children’s Commissioner’s Child Rights Advice Line.

The policies and services of Oranga Tamariki must have regard to the views of children and young people.