Upcoming changes to this policy
This content will be strengthened so it more completely reflects our commitment to practice framed by te Tiriti o Waitangi, based on a mana-enhancing paradigm for practice, and drawing from Te Ao Māori principles of oranga to support mana tamaiti, whakapapa and whanaungatanga. We each need to consider how we can apply these principles to our practice when reading this policy. The following resources provide support:
Practice for working effectively with Māori
Our practice shift
Supervised group homes
Supervised group homes must provide tamariki and rangatahi aged between 9 and 17 years in the care of Oranga Tamariki with:
- safe and stable care – this involves a whānau or family-like environment for small groups of 4 to 5 tamariki and rangatahi, while longer-term care arrangements are identified
- a focus on mana tamaiti, whakapapa and practice aligned with Te Toka Tūmoana and Va’aifetū.
Home staff must work with the lead social worker to provide:
- support that ensures their rights and entitlements, as set out in the National Care Standards, are met
- support that responds to their needs and builds on their strengths
- support that reflects the 7AA Quality Assurance Standards
- access to culturally appropriate support services, including therapeutic interventions and community education programmes
- support for transitions to longer-term care arrangements.
Supervised group homes are based in the community and run by Oranga Tamariki staff or partners. The homes provide intensive support. Care in a supervised group home is considered when needs can’t be met in other community settings, or as a step down from a residence.
When this policy applies
This policy applies when tamariki and rangatahi are:
- being considered for referral to a supervised group home
- living in a supervised group home
- transitioning out of a supervised group home.
Who this policy applies to
This policy sets out requirements for:
- care and protection social workers while tamariki or rangatahi are in, or transitioning to or from, a supervised group home
- youth justice social workers, if they are the lead worker for those involved in both the youth justice and care system while they are living in a supervised group home and when there are transitions to another youth justice placement
- supervised group home staff to support tamariki and rangatahi and provide a safe, caring home.
Considering care in a supervised group home
When considering a supervised group home, we:
- engage with te tamaiti or rangatahi
- engage with and involve their family, whānau, hapū, iwi, family group and significant others
- complete a Tuituia assessment and report.
Engaging with te tamaiti or rangatahi
Changes in care are one of the most significant decisions impacting tamariki and rangatahi. We must consider their views about where they live. This reflects obligations in the National Care Standards and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Engaging with and involving family, whānau, hapū, iwi, family group and significant others
Family, whānau, hapū, iwi, the wider family group and significant others must be involved in decision-making about te tamaiti or rangatahi. A hui ā-whānau must be held as part of engaging whānau about care options when the needs of te tamaiti or rangatahi mean care in a supervised group home is being considered.
We must record details of the options considered and the views of tamariki, rangatahi, family, whānau, hapū, iwi and significant others about care options.
The ability to maintain whakapapa – connections to people, places and knowledge – must be considered when identifying preferred care options. We must also consider the ability of different care options to meet cultural needs.
Tuituia assessment and report
High and complex needs that can’t be met effectively in other community settings are the key reason for considering placement in a supervised group home. An up-to-date Tuituia assessment and a report based on this must be completed to help understand the needs and strengths of te tamaiti or rangatahi. We can then make informed decisions about what care option will best support these needs and build on their strengths. We must update the All About Me plan so it reflects the new or updated Tuituia assessment and report.
As part of updating the assessment, report and plan, we must engage with te tamaiti or rangatahi and their whānau or family so their views are taken into account.
Making an application for care in a supervised group home
The care and protection social worker for te tamaiti must obtain approval from their supervisor to make an application for care in a supervised group home. This approval must:
- be based on the level of support needed, trauma and life experiences of te tamaiti or rangatahi – the Tuituia report has the key information
- consider the views of te tamaiti or rangatahi, family, whānau, hapū, iwi and significant others about care options – we must work with whānau to gather their views, including holding a hui ā-whānau
- be based on demonstrating a supervised group home has been determined to be the best option to provide support to meet the assessed need and that alternatives have been considered.
If the supervisor agrees an application for care in a supervised group home is appropriate, the social worker must complete an application in the intervention phase in CYRAS under National Applications – this application must cover information about te tamaiti or rangatahi including:
- their whakapapa, whānau and family (including the wider family group) connections
- their cultural identity and cultural connections
- people significant to them (for example, their parents, siblings, grandparents, other whānau members, teachers, community or religious leaders)
- their life experiences, background and history of trauma
- needs and strengths, with a focus on emotional and behavioural distress, health, disability, education, recreation and culture
- placement history
- engagement in education and health services
- those supporting or working with them including whānau and the family group, the nature of their involvement and the services they provide.
The application must:
- be reviewed by a supervisor
- only be submitted when a site manager or budget holder completes a casenote endorsing the application.
An application for care in a supervised group home is considered at a hub meeting. This meeting involves site and group home managers. It decides whether the application should proceed to be considered by a specific home through a group impact assessment.
Site representatives must have the opportunity and be available to speak about the application when it is considered at a hub meeting. Representatives can range from the site manager to the social worker preparing the application.
Group impact assessment related to a specific home
If the hub meeting considers the application should progress, the care and protection social worker must:
- contact the home where the care arrangement is being considered
- provide the referral information and the All About Me plan to the team leader at the home.
The home will then undertake a group impact assessment. This helps determine the suitability of caring for te tamaiti or rangatahi in a specific home. The assessment is led by the home’s team leader with contributions from key home, site and care team staff. The group impact assessment must consider:
- key behavioural distress issues for te tamaiti or rangatahi
- the current group dynamic in the home – for example, peer relationships
- the home’s ability to meet the needs of te tamaiti or rangatahi given the needs of those already living in the home and the resources required to meet their needs and build on their strengths
- support for whakapapa and whanaungatanga connections to people, places and knowledge.
Urgent referral and assessment
Urgent admission may be considered when another care arrangement unexpectedly breaks down. In this situation, assessment and planning must be undertaken to the extent possible before the transition and completed as soon as possible afterwards.
This includes making attempts to engage with whānau or family where possible to explain the situation and need for urgency.
Preparing te tamaiti or rangatahi to come to a supervised group home
For te tamaiti or rangatahi, the transition to a supervised group home is significant. The social worker must work with them to understand their transition needs and provide effective support. Transition planning must be set out in the All About Me plan and must be consistent with the ‘Transitions within care’ policy.
Transition support must include:
- engaging with te tamaiti or rangatahi in a way they can understand:
- why they are moving to care in a supervised group home
- how whānau or family (including the wider family group) connections and whakapapa connections to people, places, knowledge and culture will be supported
- providing an opportunity for te tamaiti or rangatahi to visit the home or meet the home manager or an appropriate staff member in person or by other means such as a video call
- providing a copy of the ‘Welcome to Our Home’ booklet and other entry information
- ensuring te tamaiti or rangatahi has a bank account for the payment of pocket money while they’re in the home.
All tamariki or rangatahi who enter a supervised group home must have a placement record created in CYRAS to reflect this.
Staff resource: Creating a placement record — CYRAS handbook
Supporting te tamaiti or rangatahi living in a supervised group home
Te tamaiti or rangatahi receives support in the following areas:
- All About Me plan
- plans specific to the home context
- maintaining whānau contact.
Te tamaiti or rangatahi must be welcomed to, and given information about, the new place they will be living by home staff. This includes:
- mihi or other welcome process that acknowledges mana whenua and reflects Te Ao Māori principles, and that considers their cultural identity
- showing them around the home, including their bedroom, the bathroom, lounge and kitchen
- introducing them to other tamariki, rangatahi and staff
- explaining the routine and rules of the house, including what belongings they can and can’t have while living in the home
- giving them a copy of the child-friendly statement of rights, explaining these rights in a way they can understand and answering any questions about their rights
- ensuring they have a copy of the child-friendly version of their All About Me plan that’s been updated as part of their move to the home – explaining the plan in a way they can understand
- providing an opportunity to discuss the transition to the home once they have had a few days to get settled and to review information received as part of the transition.
Tamariki and rangatahi must have their rights to provide feedback and raise concerns explained to them in a way they can understand as part of the welcome process.
All About Me plan
Te tamaiti and rangatahi are supported while in the home in accordance with their All About Me plan. The lead social worker has the lead role for maintaining and implementing this plan. They must:
- provide the All About Me plan to staff at the supervised group home in a form accessible outside the CYRAS case recording system
- work with home staff, especially the family engagement worker, and others to implement and keep the All About Me plan up to date
- make sure any updates to the All About Me plan are provided and explained to those who need to be informed, including te tamaiti or rangatahi.
Plans specific to the home context
The All About Me plan is supplemented by an operational plan covering issues related to the day-to-day operation of the home. It sets out how kaimahi will support te tamaiti or rangatahi in the home. This must consider:
- the implications of the life experience, level of trauma, behavioural distress, cognitive ability, culture and spirituality of te tamaiti or rangatahi for how we support them while they live in the home — for example they may:
- have a history of running away
- bring alcohol or other drugs on return — so we need to consider how alcohol and other drugs are looked for and removed
- what can trigger behavioural distress and how best to respond to these triggers
- how kaimahi can support te tamaiti or rangatahi to build on their strengths, understand the impact of their behaviour and make changes
- how kaimahi can support te tamaiti or rangatahi to achieve their transition objectives, including building on cultural and spiritual connections — for example, supporting participation and learning in areas they have an interest or skill in
- how kaimahi should respond to any incidents involving that specific tamaiti – for example, if there are specific triggers or risks that there needs to be plans in place to manage.
Te tamaiti or rangatahi must be supported while in the home. Their social worker must ensure all relevant local services are contacted and supports are put in place, as required by the All About Me plan — for example, organising:
- education, health or wellbeing assessments and specialist interventions
- access to cultural supports and activities, including sporting and spiritual activities.
The lead social worker is responsible for multi-agency work involving whānau, other agencies, partners and services to support te tamaiti or rangatahi by:
- facilitating multi-agency team (MAT) meetings (every 2 to 4 weeks)
- supporting whānau involvement in the meeting through them attending, or ensuring their views are shared
- providing information to support MAT meetings in accordance with information-sharing guidance
- ensuring follow-up with services after MAT or making new referrals.
Te tamaiti or rangatahi must be visited by their social worker while in the home. Details for visiting, including frequency of visits, must be set out in the All About Me plan. Visits must follow the ‘Visiting and engaging with tamariki in care’ policy.
As part of visits, the social worker must:
- ensure te tamaiti or rangatahi is getting the support detailed in their All About Me plan so their needs are met
- record details in casenotes
- use information from visits to update the Tuituia assessment and the All About Me plan.
Maintaining whānau contact
We have an obligation to support contact with the whānau or family of te tamaiti or rangatahi and significant others, including hapū, iwi and the wider family group, while te tamaiti or rangatahi is living in the home. We must support te tamaiti and rangatahi to have a say about how contact can be maintained.
The home’s family engagement worker will help organise contact and visits.
The lead social worker must:
- ensure the All About Me plan outlines how contact and connections are maintained while tamariki or rangatahi are in the home
- lead engagement as set out in the plan, including:
- facilitating whānau or family visits to or by te tamaiti or rangatahi
- keeping family updated about what is happening for te tamaiti or rangatahi, including where their tamaiti or rangatahi will be living
- providing information about health care for te tamaiti or rangatahi.
There may be exceptional circumstances where concerns about safety, and legal advice about these concerns, mean a team leader or site supervisor decides that engagement with specific whānau or family members is unsafe. We must explain this to tamariki and rangatahi in a way they can understand and support contact with others.
Maintaining a record of important life events
It is a significant change for te tamaiti or rangatahi when they live in a group home, often away from whānau or family and other connections. Te tamaiti or rangatahi must be supported to record key life events and memories while they are in the home.
Safety of people in the home
Because tamariki and rangatahi in homes have higher and more complex needs, our support must be well planned. We must focus on how we will support them to manage their emotions and behavioural distress, and keep them and others safe.
Home staff who work with tamariki and rangatahi must be trained in Safety Intervention™ (formerly Managing Actual and Potential Aggression – MAPA) or other Oranga Tamariki approved training.
Staff must ensure they have up-to-date information about whether te tamaiti or rangatahi has any specific needs, including mental health or physical needs, that affect approaches to preventing and de-escalating behavioural distress. This must be documented in the operational plan for te tamaiti or rangatahi.
Staff must apply approaches to de-escalate situations set out in guidance.
If de-escalation techniques fail and kaimahi are concerned for their own or others' physical safety, they must, if possible:
- guide others to a safe area and stay there
- contact the Police using 111 if it’s an emergency or follow the process in relationship agreements or Local Service Level Agreements
- after the incident, follow the process set out in policy about managing serious and imminent harm.
Tamariki and rangatahi have a right to have their own personal belongings while living in a supervised group home. They must also have somewhere to store their belongings.
There are some items not allowed in the home. These include:
- those that could be used to cause harm to te tamaiti or rangatahi or others, including weapons, lighters and matches
- alcohol and other drugs (management of medication is addressed in operational information for the homes), including cigarettes and tobacco
- clothing or any other items associated with gangs, alcohol or other drugs, or featuring words or images of a sexual nature or that may offend commonly held community values.
Access to items that a specific tamaiti or rangatahi is known to have previously used to self-harm must be carefully considered and managed – for example, access to razors.
Belongings not permitted must be recorded on the home’s property register, and then either:
- stored safely and securely until te tamaiti or rangatahi leaves the home
- returned to the whānau or family, caregivers, or social worker
- given to the Police if the item is unlawful.
Home staff must inform te tamaiti or rangatahi about what has happened to their belongings.
When te tamaiti or rangatahi leaves the supervised group home, any belongings removed from them and stored must be signed out by them and a staff member. If stored items are missing, home staff must support tamariki and rangatahi to make a lost property claim and investigate the claim.
Search and seizure
Supervised group home staff do not have the power to physically search tamariki and rangatahi, or to seize their belongings without their consent or other applicable lawful authority.
A supervised group home is not an Oranga Tamariki Act section 364 residence. Only section 364 residences have specific powers to search for and seize items.
Feedback and complaints by tamariki or rangatahi
Tamariki and rangatahi have a right to freely express their views and actively participate in what happens to them, including while in the home. This can involve having a say about decisions impacting them, and making suggestions and complaints.
We must listen to, and address, feedback by tamariki and rangatahi because it is their right, empowers them and contributes to their oranga (wellbeing).
Tamariki and rangatahi must receive information about, and an explanation of, actions and decisions that significantly affect them. They must be supported to actively participate in these decisions whenever possible.
Tamariki and rangatahi must have their right to raise concerns and be supported to make complaints explained to them in a way they can understand. We must make sure they understand they have a right to rise concerns with:
- Oranga Tamariki
Feedback and complaints
- VOYCE Whakarongo Mai
- Office of the Children’s Commissioner
Complaints about Oranga Tamariki
While in the home te tamaiti or rangatahi is likely to talk about things that have happened to them in the past. If they disclose abuse, home staff must inform the social worker who must make a report of concern if there are current concerns.
Dealing with allegations of harm
Any allegation of harm by those in the home, or a historical harm matter that is raised while in the home, must be investigated. For new matters, a report of concern must be made. Historical matters must be referred to the care and protection social worker. They will be able to establish if historical matters need a new report of concern or have already been considered.
There may be complaints about kaimahi or others in the home that are about matters other than harm related to abuse or neglect.
These include kaimahi:
- not providing an appropriate level of services to support te tamaiti or rangatahi
- not managing conflicts of interest appropriately
- inappropriately using Oranga Tamariki information or resources.
All staff must comply with the code of conduct, uphold the Oranga Tamariki values at all times and comply with other applicable policies. The Disciplinary Policy and Disciplinary Guidelines must be followed when there are allegations of inappropriate staff conduct.
If complaints are about others and not about harm we must:
- conduct our own review and consider privacy issues if we want to inform any other party, such as a complaint about someone providing services related to the home but not employed by Oranga Tamariki
- investigate and respond using processes set out in the feedback and complaints section of this policy if complaints are about other tamariki or rangatahi
Feedback and complaints by tamariki and rangatahi
When te tamaiti or rangatahi is transitioning out of the supervised group home
Leaving the home, especially after a longer stay, is a significant transition for te tamaiti or rangatahi and their whānau or family. We must give them the opportunity to acknowledge those they have lived with and been supported by.
All tamariki and rangatahi leaving a home must have a planned process for their transition to their new placement recorded in their All About Me plan. Transition planning is the primary responsibility of the lead social worker. Others will have responsibilities as set out in the All About Me plan and agreed at multi-agency team meetings.
Transition planning must:
- cover the views of te tamaiti or rangatahi, whānau or family and, where possible, hapū and iwi about transition options
- cover what the current or updated needs of te tamaiti or rangatahi are
- cover how these needs have been identified and/or addressed while in the home
- cover how we will continue to meet the needs of te tamaiti or rangatahi – these must be recorded within an assessment in Tuituia and the All About Me plan
- identify an appropriate care arrangement to transition to, or work with the transition service for those leaving care
- help prepare te tamaiti or rangatahi and others for the transition as set out in the ‘Transitions within care’ policy
- cover ongoing support after the transition and how this will be monitored.
The transition plan is developed in partnership with:
- supervised group home staff
- te tamaiti or rangatahi
- their whānau or family
- people from the care arrangement they are going to (such as caregivers or residence staff).
The lead social worker must:
- work with te tamaiti or rangatahi, whānau, hapū, iwi and family group to have a say in decisions about transition from the home
- begin planning for a positive transition out of the home as soon as te tamaiti or rangatahi moves in — the admission process will have identified skills that need to be developed and issues to address while in the home
- work with the home staff, whānau or family and significant others for te tamaiti or rangatahi to plan the transition
- record the steps we’ll take in the All About Me plan
- ensure tamariki or rangatahi are given information about their transition planning to take with them when they leave the supervised group home.