Disability practice triggers
This page has key information on the services and processes required for obtaining assessments, ensuring a cross-sectoral response, and transitioning our disabled young people to adult services.
New guidance relating to disability was recently published on the Practice Centre:
Practice when working with disabled people
What's important to us
Ensuring children and young people have appropriate health assessments, as soon as issues present, is essential. Also important is the need to access supports and services from both our government partners and the community and to begin transitioning our disabled young people to adult disability services once they turn 16 years of age.
Transitioning to adult services
Once our disabled young people turn 16, planning for their transition from Oranga Tamariki care to adult disability services needs to begin. From the age of 17 years, the funding of placements for our disabled young people can switch over from Oranga Tamariki funding to Ministry of Health funding. However there are a number of tasks that need to be completed before this can occur such as ensuring the young person is accessing the appropriate Work and Income benefit and is engaged in education or vocational training. Given the complexities around transition it can take a full 12 months to have everything in place, especially if further psychological assessments are required or an application is being made for a welfare guardian under the Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act 1988
The young person themselves, their caregiver and all professionals involved in the life of a disabled young person should be involved in developing a transition plan (ie counsel for child, school, NASC, IDEA services, Work and Income, CAMHS etc). Once developed, this plan should be reviewed regularly until the transition process has occurred.
Obtaining an assessment of a child, as soon as issues present, is essential in terms of both informing practice and being able to access services. DHB assessment services such as child development teams and child or adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) have long waiting lists, so the sooner a referral can be made the better. If you have a reasonable belief that a child may be disabled, then a referral to your local Needs Assessment Service Coordination Agency (NASC) is a good starting point. If assessments haven't previously occurred then the NASC can arrange these.
In some situations when an urgent assessment is required, it may be necessary to privately contract a clinical psychologist to complete an assessment. It is important that the assessment is undertaken by a professional who is recognised by the Ministry of Health. Your Regional Disability Advisor will have a list of psychologists in your area who may be able to complete an assessment. Alternatively your local NASC may also be able to recommend a suitably qualified assessor.
An assessment should include a clear diagnosis (if applicable) and outline what supports and services are required for the child and their family. Assessments therefore assist social workers in identifying the best treatment/placement/education options at the earliest possible opportunity. Obtaining an up-to-date diagnosis such as intellectual disability (with an actual IQ score) or developmental delay is also essential for securing the child's access to disability support services through the Ministry of Health.
Once an assessment has occurred it is important to ensure that the appropriate disability supports and services are in place for the child and their family. These supports and services can be accessed from both our government partners (i.e. Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, Work and Income) and the community. There are a myriad of non-governmental organisations in the community who can provide support to the child and their family for just about every disability type or health issue such as the ADHD Association, The Blind Foundation, Epilepsy NZ and Dyslexia Foundation
Regular meetings, discussions and joint work between all agencies are essential to achieving the best outcomes for disabled children, young people and their families. Working in a collaborative way ensures consistency of approach and that the recommended plans are progressing.
A guiding principle agreed in the Memorandum of Understanding between Child, Youth and Family and the Ministry of Health (2008) is that disability supports will not be reduced or curtailed as a result of Oranga Tamariki involvement. Therefore children known to or in the care of Oranga Tamariki should be entitled to the same disability supports and services as any other person in the community.