Towards independence — Policy

Updated: 01 April 2017

What's Important To Us

Mokopuna who leave our care need our support to achieve the same positive outcomes as other young adults. When mokopuna of or over the age of 15 years leave care, we must have assisted them to acquire the knowledge, skills, resources and supports necessary to successfully manage the transition into adulthood. This means we:

  • explore all avenues of support available to them and connect them to existing services before they leave care
  • encourage and assist them to participate in planning
  • give them reasonable opportunity to freely express their views and take those views into account
  • provide a support person if they need help to express their views or be understood
  • offer support and assistance to them after they leave care if they request it.

This policy outlines what you must do to help mokopuna who are preparing to transition from care. It includes planning, financial help, building support networks and living independently.

We must explore all avenues of support available to the mokopuna and connect them to existing services before they leave care.

  • Start preparation from age 15.
  • Have a transition plan in place at least 3 months before a mokopuna leaves care.
  • Mokopuna must be included in planning, and their views and aspirations must be taken into account.
  • Mokopuna will need photo ID and a bank account.
  • Financial assistance is available to help mokopuna buy essentials they'll need to live independently.
  • We must offer support to mokopuna who've left care until they turn 20.

Note: Mokopuna are entitled to a support person if they need help expressing their views or being understood. The support person can be present at any meeting that includes the mokopuna.

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Preparing to leave care from age 15

15 to 18 year-old mokopuna in care must have a plan for leaving care.

What you have to do

The plan must be reviewed and confirmed at a family group conference at least once a year.

For mokopuna who have family court orders in place, the family group conference (FGC) must happen before the court date. The plan can then be filed as the court plan (s128 ) alongside the report (s135/s186).

What goes in the plan

The plan must:

  • actively involve the mokopuna and show evidence of their voice throughout
    Participation and views of children and young people policy
  • actively involve the caregiving family, family/whānau and other people in their support network
  • be based on an assessment of their needs, strengths, risks and aspirations
  • be regularly reviewed
  • focus on achieving positive outcomes
  • identify where they will be living and who with
  • detail what form of education, employment or training they will be participating in
  • focus on their preparation for leaving care.

Mokopuna with physical or learning disabilities, including speech, language and communication difficulties, may need additional support in preparing to leave care.

Transitioning young people with disabilities out of Oranga Tamariki care

Financial support

From the age of 15, all mokopuna should be receiving their pocket money directly from their caregivers. Caregivers need to be aware that the young person’s pocket money is being paid to them as part of their board payments, and ensure that the young person is receiving that money each week.

Other payments that should be considered for direct payment to mokopuna include:

  • travel costs
  • phone costs
  • recreational activities.

Where mokopuna are living with a caregiving family, how financial support is provided should be part of the regular review conversations.

Preparing to leave care from age 15

Make a transition plan 3 to 6 months prior to leaving care

You need a transition plan in place at least 3 months before a mokopuna leaves care.

What you have to do

In the 3-6 months prior to mokopuna leaving care:

  • a planning meeting must take place, and
  • a plan for leaving care agreed.

This applies even if mokopuna are placed in a residence (discussed at the Multi-Agency Team Meeting).

What goes in the plan

The plan must address any areas of need or concern for mokopuna, as well as their aspirations. It must also include:

  • safe living arrangements
  • networks of support (relationships), how much contact they will have with their social worker after they leave care, and how they will access further support if needed
  • education, training and employment
  • financial support
  • health and wellbeing
  • identity and culture
  • life skills
  • documentation (including identification documents).

The plan can be developed at a family group conference or hui, but it doesn't have to be confirmed at a family group conference .

If it's not possible to hold the planning meeting (eg, if the mokopuna isn't willing to participate, is transient, or is only in care for a short period of time), it must be clearly recorded what effort has been made to meet this requirement.

If mokopuna will be studying when they leave care

If the mokopuna is in education or training and turns 18 before the end of the academic year, plans must include support to make sure their studies are not disrupted. If they will:

  • continue to live with a caregiver, we will pay their caregiver the equivalent of board (including clothing, birthday and Christmas allowances) until the end of the academic year. We must discuss and agree with the mokopuna and their caregiver who will receive the payments
  • be in an independent living arrangement, we will continue to provide financial support until the end of the academic year.

We must make sure mokopuna receive all their financial entitlements from Work and Income or Studylink.

If mokopuna will not be studying or working when they leave care

If a mokopuna is under 18 and is not in education, employment or training when they transition from care, you could help them to enroll in the NEET service.

Official documentation

Every mokopuna leaving care must have:

  • photo identification that will enable them to access financial supports — either a current passport or driver licence
  • an original copy of their birth certificate
  • their IRD number
  • a bank account.

If the mokopuna can't safely store their documentation, a member of their support network may hold the documentation on their behalf. If this is not possible, keep it safely at the office.

3 - 6 months before leaving care

Approved independent living arrangements

If a traditional care arrangement can't be found or isn't suitable, mokopuna may be able to live independently if they're over 16, are working or studying, and have adequate practical life skills.

When an independent living arrangement can be approved

We can support independent living arrangements for mokopuna who want to live independently if:

  • they don't have a traditional care arrangement that they'll agree to remain in, or
  • it would be the right thing for their development.

The mokopuna must:

  • be 16 or over
  • have adequate practical and life skills
  • be meaningfully engaged during the day – either in work or study.

Before the arrangement begins

Before the arrangement begins, we must have built safety around the mokopuna by:

  • addressing any identified risks
  • assessing the safety, suitability and sustainability of the planned living arrangement
    Assessing independent living arrangements
  • confirming the support network available to the mokopuna
  • site manager giving their approval. If the mokopuna is currently in a residence, the discussion must also include the residence manager.

Once the arrangement begins

Once the arrangement begins, you must:

  • visit the mokopuna at least once each week for the first four weeks, to check they are safe and have the support they need
  • visit at least every eight weeks while they remain in custody (or more often if agreed in their plan)
  • have regular contact (eg via phone or text message) between visits
  • continue to monitor, support and help plan their transition from care until they turn 18.

Financial assistance for leaving care and independent living arrangements

If a mokopuna is leaving care to live independently, or if a mokopuna in the custody of the chief executive is living in approved independent living arrangements, we must provide:

  • financial assistance directly to mokopuna wherever possible.
  • at least $1500 to help them buy the essential items they need to live independently.

Any financial assistance above this is discretionary and should be based on the needs of the mokopuna.

Buying essential items

You should help the mokopuna to develop good financial literacy by discussing which items they might need and how to buy good quality, reasonably priced goods. They could use this money to buy:

  • furniture (eg, a bed, a set of drawers)
  • flat items (eg, pots and pans, kitchen appliances)
  • bedding and towels
  • toiletries and cleaning supplies.

Assist the mokopuna to use these funds before they leave care. Any unspent money will remain available until the mokopuna turns 20.

This money is only available if the mokopuna is not receiving any similar financial support from another source (eg, a Transition from Care to Independence grant).

Support for mokopuna who have left care

Mokopuna who are 15 to 20 can access advice and assistance after they've left care.

What you have to do

If they ask for it, we must provide advice and non-financial assistance to mokopuna to whom s386A of the CYP&F Act applies who have left care and:

  • are 15–20 years old
  • have been in the care or custody of the chief executive, an iwi social service, a cultural social service, or the director of a child and family support service under sections 139, 140, 141, 78, 101 (including 102), or 110(2)(a)
  • were in this care or custody for a continuous period of at least three months after they were 14 years and 9 months old

If the mokopuna is between 15 and 18, we must first decide whether there are care or protection concerns that need to be addressed. If there are, we must follow the usual investigation or assessment processes.

Assessment and decision making policy

How mokopuna can access assistance

Mokopuna can access advice and assistance by:

  • contacting the National Contact Centre, or
  • going into any site office — they will provide the required support.

Mokopuna can request assistance themselves, or a person or agency can approach us and request assistance on their behalf.

If another person or agency requests assistance on behalf of a mokopuna, the mokopuna must consent before we can release any of their personal information.

Sharing and use of information policy or seek legal advice if you're unsure.

How to respond

Mokopuna may seek our help for a variety of reasons, so the response will vary from case to case.

We must:

  • explore all avenues of support available to them
  • check what the plan was for them when they left care
  • check which services were involved.

If they're having problems accessing services, we must act as an advocate, or help them identify someone who could advocate on their behalf (e.g. Youth Service provider).

Urgent assistance

If the assistance sought is urgent or a mokopuna contacts us after hours, our response will be based on the nature and urgency of their needs.

You might contact:

  • the appropriate emergency service (where one exists) e.g. adult mental health services or the Police,
  • the appropriate community support agency (such as Victim Support).

Financial assistance

We may provide mokopuna with financial assistance when all other options have been explored.

Financial assistance must be provided to the mokopuna or the person who is caring for them, unless:

  • the mokopuna agrees that the payment can be made directly to another person or party (e.g. a service provider), or
  • it has been determined that the mokopuna is unable to manage that financial assistance themselves (e.g. they have a significant intellectual disability).

If they have not used all of the financial assistance provided to purchase items necessary to live independently, this can be accessed up until they turn 20.

If we are providing financial assistance to support mokopuna in a course of education or training, we may continue to do so even if they turn 20 before completing the course.

Support for mokopuna who have left care