Working with children and young people in residences — Policy

Updated: 01 April 2017

What's Important To Us

There will be times when children and young people require a more structured living environment than what their own family can give them. Residential placements can help children and young people realise their full potential by providing individual and group programmes focused on change and growth, intensive clinical services, specialised education services, cultural engagement, physical activities, clear boundaries and support. Although they tend to be short in duration, residential placements offer children and young people an intensive, therapeutic response which ultimately seeks to get them back on track with their lives.

This policy outlines what residential staff must do while working with children and young people in residences.

Residential care provides a safe and stable placement for children and young people when they cannot be placed in the community. We need to:

  • get to know the children and young people so we can understand what they need
  • help them to feel supported and safe
  • behave in a way that will help to teach them ways to improve their own behaviour
  • prepare them to be able to return to their community.

Residential practice framework

Expand all

Admission — what we must do immediately

When a child or young person arrives at a residence, their residential case leader must ensure the child or young person:

  • completes the residence's induction or orientation programme. This includes being told about secure care
  • is given a copy of 'What to expect when I'm in care' and can ask any questions they may have about their rights
  • undergoes a medical checkup within 7 days of their admission
  • is screened, using the Kressler & Suicide Screen, to identify any risk factors and/or urgent needs.

On the day of admission, staff must create an Operational Plan for the child or young person that will be available to all staff.

Admission — what we must do in the first week

Within 7 days of admission, the residential case leader must develop an Individual Care Plan for the child or young person which covers:

  • the objectives for the child or young person while they are in the residence
  • the help that will be provided to the child or young person, e.g. services, assistance or programmes
  • the responsibilities and personal objectives of the child or young person
  • contact arrangements for the child or young person with family/whānau
  • other matters relating to the child or young person's education, employment, recreation and welfare
  • a planning component for the child or young person's transition from the residence.

All children and young people who enter a residence must have a placement created in CYRAS to reflect this.

Key information: A child or young person's journey through residence

Individual Care Plans

Individual Care Plans are essential to keeping children and young people's needs at the centre of a residential placement. They should be written in language the child understands. To make sure everyone is engaged with the plan, get the views of family/whānau and/or caregivers, and the site social worker.

A child or young person's Individual Care Plan must be reviewed at least once every 4 weeks, and updated as necessary. This review will include all relevant parties, including health and education services.

When health or education assessments result in a treatment or education plan, this updated information must be added to the child or young person's plan.

Residential stays of less than 5 days

For residential stays of less than 5 days, the same admission process as above will occur for each child or young person. We must complete an Operational Plan detailing the specific strengths and needs of the child or young person, education, recreational activities and contact with significant others.

Managing medication

Senior residential staff must make sure:

  • all medication is stored, transported and distributed safely and securely in accordance with Ministry of Health legislative requirements
  • a medication chart is created for each child or young person receiving medication, and all staff can access it
  • all medication is prescribed by a doctor, nurse practitioner or dentist and given according to their instructions
  • medication is given to one child or young person at a time
  • each child or young person is monitored to make sure they take their medication
  • any medication errors are immediately reported to the registered nurse so that the child or young person can receive the right medical follow up
  • medication via injection is not administered (this can only be given by a health team member).

If a child or young person refuses their medication, their case leader and the medical team must be advised. Persistent refusal of medication must be discussed with the team leader clinical practice to decide on an appropriate course of action.

All controlled drugs must be checked daily and audited weekly by a team leader and a registered nurse together. All unused medication must be given to and disposed of by a health professional. Staff also must record when they have administered over-the-counter medication.

Policy and guidelines for medication management in Oranga Tamariki residences

Managing children and young people's property

All property coming into the residence on admission and during the child or young person's residential stay must be:

  • named
  • recorded
  • signed by a staff member
  • co-signed by the child or young person.

When the child or young person leaves the residence, their property must be signed out both by them and a staff member. Property that is not permitted in the residence must be stored safely and securely until the child or young person leaves, or returned to the family or site social worker.

Each residence must have a process in place for children and young people to make a lost property claim and have their claim investigated.

Use of electronic media and publications

In some situations, children and young people can have an electronic device, use social media and play music while in the residence. This is written into their operational plan.

Key Information: Use of electronic communication in residences

Transporting and escorting young people to or from a residence

Scheduled escorts are planned and undertaken between 8am and 5pm Monday to Friday. There will be times when a young person arrives outside these hours and this must be discussed with senior staff at the residence.

All escorts must be carried out professionally to ensure the child or young person is safely and securely escorted to and from their destination while being treated with dignity and respect.

Before the escort, the case leader must complete the Off Site Activity/Event on the Risk Assessment Form. This form must be signed off by a team leader or the staff member on the senior duty roster, before the escort takes place. If, for some reason, the form cannot be completed before the escort takes place, the escorting staff must get the approval of the residence manager before they leave.

The case leader must tell the child or young person of the travel as soon as possible.

Escorting staff must ensure that:

  • they are fully briefed by the case leader, team leader or staff member on the senior duty roster on any risks the child or young person may pose, and the procedures they must follow to mitigate each risk
  • they comply with this procedure and seek clarification and approval from the residence manager when unsure.

Escort ratios

There must be a minimum of two Oranga Tamariki employees, who have been trained in carrying out escorts and in Oranga Tamariki approved de-escalation and physical control training.

A minimum of one escort will be the same gender as the child or young person.

Where two or more children or young people are being escorted at the same time, the residence manager must approve the ratio of children and young people to staff.

Care and protection residence managers can approve a care and protection young person being escorted by one staff member.

Youth justice road escorts

Escorting staff must ensure the:

  • car windows are up
  • young person is seated in the backseat behind the front passenger seat
  • Child Lock is engaged on the side that the young person is seated.

One escort must travel in the back with the young person.

Escorting staff must travel from the residence to their destination and back to the residence without making any stops (i.e. no stopping to visit the children or young person's family/whānau, for food or toilet stops) unless it is planned and approved on the Risk Assessment Form. If anyone needs to use the toilet while on the road they must only stop at police stations.

In the event of an emergency, unless it is considered unsafe, the child or young person must stay in the vehicle. In emergencies, the escort staff must ensure the safety and wellbeing of the child or young person and themselves. The staff must contact the residence manager as soon as possible and advise them of the emergency.

When Police are assisting with the escort, at least one staff member must accompany the young person.

Air travel

  • Escort staff must check in 40 minutes prior to the plane's departure and identify themselves to the airline staff. They need to have the appropriate letter and documentation.
  • Air travel must include at least one residential staff member carrying handcuffs who has completed Oranga Tamariki handcuff training requirements.
  • Staff must follow the directions of the airline staff and minimise any contact between the child or young person and members of the public.
  • Staff can only use handcuffs while in the aircraft and at the direction of the pilot and to protect the safety of the aircraft, persons or property.
  • Staff must report any incidents that occur during the escort to their residence manager as soon as possible after the plane has landed.

Care and protection residence managers can give approval for young people to be escorted by air with a single staff member who is the same gender as the young person. Escorting staff must follow the decisions made by the Court (i.e. the Judge or Registrar) and comply with all reasonable requests from court staff.

Legislation that impacts on youth justice escorts includes the:

Young people in cells after hours

When young people are arrested after hours, during the weekends or on public holidays, they may require Oranga Tamariki escorts for transport to a residence. If there are no beds available, they remain in cells until the next available youth court date.

The Contact Centre holds the delegated supervisory responsibility for after-hours placement of young people. They will advise what we must do to comply with all policy and practice.

Young people must not remain in cells just because of transport issues. When a placement is available, young people must be transported as soon as possible. Residential services may have limited capability for escorting during after-hours and holiday periods, so talk to residences to see whether they can help.

What the Contact Centre must do

When the Contact Centre receives a notification from the Police that a child or young person has been arrested, they must ask:

  • Who is the child or young person, date of birth and what have they been arrested for?
  • What time was the young person arrested?
  • When is the intended appearance in court?
  • Have the parents or caregivers of the child or young person been informed of the arrest and are they are likely to visit their young person at the Police station?
  • If so, who and what was the contact number?
  • Where applicable, what has been the outcome of approaches to family/whānau or significant others for an alternative placement?

What the after hours duty social worker must do

The Contact Centre calls out the local after hours duty social worker, who must make arrangements to visit the child or young person at the police station. They must also:

  • complete the SKS assessment and screening tools to determine the child or young person's state of mind and wellbeing
  • continue conversations with Police, to determine if the situation has changed since the Contact Centre was informed of the arrest
  • work with police to consider alternatives to residential custody and discuss whether Police bail is a viable option, including contacting the family or caregiver.

Contact the duty supervisor at the Contact Centre or the local youth justice manager if you need further guidance.

Police custody over 24 hours

In some areas of New Zealand there are limited flights available to escort young people after-hours. It may not be in the young person’s best interest to drive them for extensive periods for time to a residence.

When all viable escorting options have been investigated and there are no options, a young person can be held in Police custody until the next Youth Court or until a safe escort can be arranged. On rare occasions this stay may exceed 24 hours. All conversations about the rationale for the s236 (detaining a young person in police custody) must be fully documented in CYRAS.

If a child or young person wants to make a complaint

We value feedback from our young people. They can make a complaint if they feel they have been treated unfairly, unreasonably or illegally, and they can also make suggestions or give us feedback if they feel they want things changed.

When children or young people want to make a complaint, make suggestions, or give feedback, we must :

  • have the Whaia Te Maramatanga form available and make sure there is a secure mailbox to post the form in
  • offer support to complete the form, either from staff or an advocate
  • acknowledge their complaint within 3 days
  • ensure a senior staff member investigates their complaint and reports the outcome to them, in writing, within 14 working days, or advises the child or young person why it will take longer
  • within 3 days of receiving an outcome for the complaint, give the child or young person the opportunity to have their complaint reviewed by the Grievance Panel if they feel the matter is not sorted
  • if they feel the matter is not sorted after the Grievance Panel have reviewed the complaint, within 3 days provide the opportunity for young people to have this reviewed by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner or Ombudsman.

Shift planning and debriefing

Handover meetings occur for all shifts and this handover must be conducted by the team leader or the shift leader and must include debrief from the previous shift.

At this time:

  • identify any risks or concerns from the current shift
  • identify risks/potential risks for the next shift
  • discuss off-sight appointments or movements
  • discuss how the shift progressed and make recommendations on how things could be done differently for the following shift
  • identify the general ‘mood’ within the residence
  • allocate tasks to team members, e.g. daily log, gym programmes, phone calls, kitchen etc.

All work in a residence needs to happen within a context of professional supervision — the Professional Supervision policy guides practice for residential social workers.

Line of sight

The primary task of the residence’s care team is to engage the child or young person and proactively manage their behaviour, in line with Behaviour Change practice and the Punctuated Practice approach.

During each shift, all staff members must be in the line of sight of at least one other staff member and all children and young people must be in the line of sight of at least one staff member.

Key information: Line of sight

Monitoring children and young people at night

At the beginning and end of each night shift, a count of the number of children and young people in the residence must be done jointly by staff members from both the beginning and end shifts.

The frequency of checks on children and young people must be aligned to the current needs of the child or young person as identified in their Operational Plan, including if they have been identified as being at risk of suicide and/or self-harm. At a minimum, each child or young person must be sighted by a staff member at least once every 30 minutes.

Any other requirements in the child or young person's Operational Plan relating to their bedtime routine must also be followed.

When staff complete their checks, they must use the I-button at all times.

Key information: Keeping children and young people safe at night

Requirements for recording at night

The daily log must be completed every night, with every incident, event or period of unsettled behaviour by a young person recorded accurately. The night shift supervisor may only sign off the daily log once he or she is satisfied that it has been completed correctly and accurately.

Any issues with either using the I-button probe or I-button recording must be entered in the daily log and alerted to the night shift supervisor.

Shift Planning and Debriefing Sheets and Shift Summary Sheets must be completed accurately and reflect who is responsible for specific duties during the night shift.

Undertaking a search of a child or young person

Before we do a mail search or search a child or young person, we must have reasonable grounds to believe they are in possession of an unauthorised item.

Key information: Searches of children and young people in residences

Preparing to leave the residence

All children and young people leaving the residence must have recorded in their plan a process for their transition from the residence to their new placement which is jointly developed by the Multi-Agency Team (MAT) and includes both the residential case leader and site social worker.

For children and young people returning home, we must hold a planning meeting at least 2 weeks before the move involving:

  • the child or young person
  • key workers from within the residence (case leader, social worker and youth worker)
  • the site social worker
  • the next placement caregiver
  • staff from health and education
  • the child or young person's family/whānau.

At this meeting, professionals will ensure that the services and supports needed are in place.

Each child or young person must have a transition process prepared for their discharge.

The following documents will guide you through this process:

Key Information: A child or young person's journey through residence

Key Information: Transitioning between placements

Key Information: Towards independence

Key Information: Transitions for children and young people who offend: Actively planning for success