Update made to this policy
Minor changes have been made to promote special consideration.
Review following allegations of abuse, neglect or harm of tamariki by a caregiver
Practice framework prompts for this policy
Our practice framework helps us make sense of and organise our practice so it is framed in te Tiriti o Waitangi (the Treaty of Waitangi), and draws from te ao Māori principles of oranga, within the context of our role in statutory child protection and youth justice in Aotearoa New Zealand.
How can I ensure the rights of the caregiver and their whānau or family are recognised and promoted through the review process? What will I need to do to ensure these are balanced with the rights of te tamaiti or rangatahi and their whānau or family?
What do I know about how the needs of te tamaiti or rangatahi are being met within the caregiving whānau or family? Does this align with the narratives of how the caregiver is experiencing caregiving?
How will I explore with the caregiver and their whānau or family how changes in their circumstances may have affected their oranga? How might this impact on their willingness and suitability to provide care? How can we make sure the right supports are in place?
What skills might I use to maintain a meaningful relationship with the caregiver and their whānau or family when challenging conversations are necessary?
How do I feel when I am being assessed? What will I do to ensure that my review of the caregiver’s approval status is a mana-enhancing experience?
Who this policy applies to
This policy applies to all Oranga Tamariki approved caregivers.
When this policy doesn’t apply
This policy doesn’t apply to caregivers of a section 396 provider care partner, who are reviewed through the care partner.
This policy doesn’t apply to the review of adoptive applicants. For information about the review of adoptive applicant approval, refer to the adoptive applicant support and review guidance.
The purpose of the approval review
The purpose of the approval review is to assess the caregiver’s ongoing willingness and suitability to provide care. We must consider the caregiver and their household as a whole.
When a review of approval is required
All approved caregivers must have their approval status reviewed every 2 years, with the first review due 2 years from the date on which they were approved.
They must also have a full approval review:
- when there’s a significant change to the circumstances of the caregiver or their household
- when they wish to change their approval type or conditions
- following an investigation or assessment of an allegation of abuse, neglect, or harm of tamariki by the caregiver.
We may undertake a review of approval status at any other time as we require, for example, following a serious complaint or a notification involving the caregiver.
The frequency of the caregiver’s approval review and the rationale for that frequency must be recorded on the caregiver support plan.
Who carries out the review
The approval review is carried out by the caregiver social worker in partnership with the caregiver.
We must also consult with the social worker of any tamariki placed with, or recently in the care of, the caregiver.
What's included in the review
The caregiver approval review must include:
- a face-to-face meeting in the home that includes each approved caregiver
- assessment of the caregiver’s ongoing willingness and suitability to provide care
- updated suitability checks.
We must consider their ability to:
- provide an appropriate standard of care for te tamaiti
- provide a safe, stable and loving home for te tamaiti
- respond to the needs and advance the wellbeing of te tamaiti
- promote mana tamaiti — value te tamaiti for who they are and promote and support their identity and aspirations
- support te tamaiti to maintain and strengthen their whakapapa connections
- recognise and support the practice of whanaungatanga in relation to te tamaiti.
The review assessment must also consider:
- the caregiver’s experience, skills (including understanding trauma) and attitudes relevant to their ability to provide safe, stable, loving care
- the needs, strengths and circumstances of the caregiver and their household, including any changes in their circumstances since approval was granted or last reviewed
- what support or capability building the caregiver and their household might need to help them provide care
- any information we have gathered from others working with the caregiver or te tamaiti, for example, iwi, education, health
- the details of any allegations and the investigation or assessment outcome and any subsequent actions
- details of any concerns or complaints about the caregiver or their care
- the reasons for any request for a change of approval type or conditions and their impact
- the safety, adequacy and appropriateness of the physical caregiving environment.
We must carry out individual suitability checks, including updated checks for those checked previously, to inform our approval review.
A suitability check is required for:
- the caregiver
- members of the caregiver’s household 18 years or older.
We must also consider carrying out a CYRAS check and police vet for household members aged 14 to 17 years.
We have discretion about a suitability check for people aged 18 years or older who:
- have connections to the caregiver or their household and
- are likely to have regular unsupervised or overnight contact with tamariki in their care.
If we decide not to carry out a suitability check on a person who is not a household member but meets the criteria above, we must record our rationale for not completing the suitability check. This decision must be made in consultation with a supervisor.
If a suitability check for a caregiver review of approval identifies one of the circumstances that requires special consideration and we want to continue the caregiver's approval, special consideration approval applies.
Policy: Caregiver and adoptive applicant assessment and approval – Approving a prospective caregiver or adoptive applicant
Conducting suitability checks
As part of a suitability check, we must gather and consider the following information:
- identity confirmation — if a person’s name has changed since the previous check, we must sight a supporting name-change document
- police vet information and a risk assessment of the information obtained
- residential addresses from the previous 5 years — an update is sufficient for people who were previously suitability checked at the time of assessment and approval
- referee checks
- medical report — for the caregiver only
- immigration status — of approved respite caregivers if they didn’t have New Zealand citizenship or permanent residency when approved or last reviewed
- CYRAS, TRIM and CGIS records.
You must have the consent of the person you are suitability checking to carry out a police vet or a check of CYRAS, TRIM and CGIS. If a person declines to give their consent for these checks, consult with your supervisor and Oranga Tamariki Legal Services.
The caregiver and adoptive applicant assessment and approval policy has further details about suitability checking.
Change in circumstances
We must review the caregiver’s approval status when there is a significant change to the circumstances of the caregiver or their household.
Significant changes include (but are not limited to):
- changes in the health, employment, wellbeing or lifestyle of the caregiver
- loss of a caregiving partner, tamaiti or significant whānau or family member
- new location and/or household members
- the permanent placement of a tamaiti (review must occur before another tamaiti can be placed)
- a criminal charge or conviction.
If a new household member wants to share the caregiving role, the full caregiver assessment and approval process must be completed for them.
The approval review of the existing caregiver must consider how the new household structure will impact on the care they are currently providing.
Change of approval type or conditions
We must review the caregiver’s approval status when they wish to change the type or conditions of their approval.
This includes when a caregiver:
- wants to change the type of care they are approved for
- wants to add another type of care to their approval status
- wants to vary a condition of their approval
- has been approved to care for a specific tamaiti and wishes to care for another tamaiti.
Review following allegations of abuse, neglect or harm of tamariki by a caregiver
We must review the caregiver’s approval status following an investigation or assessment of an allegation of abuse, neglect or harm of tamariki by the caregiver. The caregiver’s support plan must also be reviewed.
For an approval review occurring following investigation or assessment of an allegation of abuse, neglect or harm of tamariki by the caregiver, you must follow the process in the policy covering allegations of harm (ill-treatment, abuse, neglect or deprivation) of tamariki in care or custody.
Special consideration approval will be required where there has been a finding that the caregiver has abused, neglected or harmed a tamaiti or rangatahi.
The approval review report
When the approval review is complete, a review report must be completed, recorded in CGIS, and approved by a supervisor.
The review report must include:
- assessment and analysis of the caregiver’s ongoing willingness and suitability to provide care
- areas that require development or support, including any risks and how these would be mitigated – record these in the caregiver support plan
- a recommendation regarding the caregiver’s approval status
- the rationale supporting the recommendation.
If the caregiver is seeking a change in approval status relating to a specific tamaiti, the report must include:
- the assessed needs of te tamaiti
- the caregiver’s ability to meet those needs.
The supervisor must provide the caregiver with a letter confirming the outcome of the review. The caregiver’s CGIS record must also be updated to reflect the outcome of the review.
If there are no changes or concerns, then approval is continued.
If the recommendation is for a caregiver’s approval status to change as a result of the review, we must go through the caregiver approval process to make a decision on altering the approval status.
If the recommendation is for a caregiver's approval status to continue following a review where a special consideration applies (for example, following a finding that the caregiver has abused, neglected or harmed a tamaiti or rangatahi), we must go through the caregiver approval process and seek special consideration approval.
Following a review of approval, the caregiver support plan must be reviewed.
If the recommendation is to revoke a caregiver’s approval status, we must:
- tell the caregiver of the recommendation and the reasons why in a personal interview, with a supervisor present
- give the caregiver a letter advising the reasons for the decision to revoke their approval
- give the caregiver 10 working days to add, comment on or correct information that they believe is incorrect before the review decision is finalised.
If the decision to revoke the caregiver’s approval stands (after considering the revised and additional information) the caregiver must receive written advice of the decision from the decision-maker.
The caregiver must also receive information about the Oranga Tamariki feedback and complaints process.