Transitioning disabled young people out of Oranga Tamariki care
Updated: 01 April 2017
What's Important To Us
For a disabled young person leaving care, planning is critical to ensure a smooth and seamless transition to adult disability services. A team focus on the young person throughout the transition process is essential, involving the young person, their family/whānau, currently involved professionals, and others who will become part of the young person's support network in the future.
This key information contains information to assist social workers when considering transitioning a disabled young people in Oranga Tamariki care to adult health and disability support services.
Components of a good transition into the adult disability sector
The key components to the successful transition of any child or young person out of Oranga Tamariki care include:
- coordinated planning between Oranga Tamariki and other agencies
- a smooth transition between services and funding arrangements
- existing care and services are reviewed to ensure needs continue to be met
- disabled young person and their family/whānau are involved in the process and know what to expect
- a focus on permanency and stability for the young person
- ensuring the interests of the young person are protected.
Additonal factors pertain particularly to the transition of disabled young people, explained further below. This information has been developed to complement the Oranga Tamariki Towards Independence policy and practice guidance.
Involving the disabled young person and their family/whānau
Involving the disabled young person and their family is good social work practice. This may require specific attention as transitioning a disabled young person to adult services may involve a number of parties who all need to be included. Extra care should be taken to ensure the voice of the disabled young person does not get lost.
Depending on each disabled young person’s circumstances, particular attention may need to be given to communicating with the young person e.g. limitations with speech, behavioural triggers, intellectual disability etc.
If you as the social worker don’t feel confident about communicating with the disabled young person, discuss this with their family/whānau or someone close to them e.g. a family friend or mentor. The disabled young person is likely to have someone they trust and who communicates well with them such as a special needs teacher, a therapist, family/whānau member etc.
It is important that the young person has an up-to-date assessment for their disability support needs. The assessment should clearly diagnose the young person’s disability, determine their eligibility for disability support services, and outline what the disability support needs are for the disabled young person and their caregiver.
Two types of asessment are required
- The first is an assessment by the Needs Assessment and Service Coordination (NASC) agency who are the gateway to disability support services in the Health sector. This assessment will determine the young person's eligibility for disability support services and whether they will also be eligible for adult disability support services including independent supported living once they transition from Oranga Tamariki care
- The second is for the disabled young person’s disability, such as level of intellectual disability, which is usually undertaken by a clinical psychologist, paediatrician or other health professional. It is important that this assessment is completed by a health professional that will be recognised by the Ministry of Health. If you are unsure of how to do this, your local NASC may be able to recommend someone.
In some instances, a specialist disability assessment may be required to help the NASC to complete an assessment for disability support services.
Usually a specialist disability assessment may be provided by the appropriate health agency if the young person meets their criteria, but in some circumstances where an assessment is required urgently it may be the responsibility of Oranga Tamariki to facilitate and fund this.
The cost of an assessment depends on the type required and the professional fees which will vary depending on the area of specialty.
Joint agency planning
As the social worker, it is your role to take the lead and coordinate this. The first step will be to develop a joint agency plan for the disabled young person. The best way of doing this is to pull together a meeting with the disabled young person, the important people in their life (e.g. parents, caregivers, extended family/whānau) and those agencies and community-based disability support services who have been involved with the young person and their family/whānau and/or are likely to have an ongoing relationship with the young person.
The advantages to joint planning is that it helps foster positive working relationships between agencies who will both have a role during transition, and means that the adult health and disability agencies have advance notice that a young person will be transitioning into their sector. It also provides Oranga Tamariki with disability expertise to ensure a smooth transition for the young person into adult health services.
The family or caregiver/s will know which professionals are involved with the disabled young person including which disability support services they need and/or are likely to be receiving. If this isn’t the case then the information may be available from the young person’s file.
Continuity is important for the disabled young person, so ensuring the right disability supports are resumed or put in place as soon as possible is important.
Involving your local Needs Assessment and Service Coordination agency
The key agency for disability services is your local Needs Assessment and Service Coordination (NASC) agency.
NASC agencies are organisations contracted to the Ministry of Health’s Health & Disability Services. They work with disabled children and adults to identify their needs and allocate any services that are required to support them, their family/whānau or the caregiver they live with. They allocate Ministry of Health funded support services and assist with accessing other supports such as respite care.
Look for your local NASC agency.
If the young person has a disability as a result of an injury, then it may be ACC who is responsible for funding required services. It's important to check this out.
Many disabled children and young people coming into care will have documentation about their disability and what disability supports they receive.
For others it is the role of the social worker to contact the NASC agency and facilitate this. You should also establish a process for joint agency planning and for transition times. A successful transition can take up to two years so it’s important that this is begun as soon as possible or when the disabled young person turns 15 years if they will be transitioning to adult disability support services at 18 years.
Disabled young people are likely to be receiving special needs assistance for their school learning through the Ministry of Education, Special Education (GSE). They should have an Individual Education Plan (IEP) in place for their educational needs and goals. The social worker and caregiver/s should be linked in to this process which is reviewed each six months.
There should also be a focus on planning for adult vocational, educational or employment training, including for when the young person leaves school. The most appropriate GSE professional or teacher should be included in the Oranga Tamariki transition process as it will also need to take into account the young person’s educational and vocational goals. Work and Income may also be able to assist with this planning aspect.
Check with the school to ensure that the disabled young person is receiving all special education assistance that they are eligible for e.g. ORS (Ongoing Resource Scheme) funding, behaviour management interventions, and teacher aide support etc.
Involving disability services providers
Disabled young people are more likely to have their care provided by a disability services organisation such as IHC or IDEA Services, Spectrum Care and others as their care and disability support needs are likely to be intensive.
Involving the disability services provider is essential in the transition process as any changes, including changes to agency funding, will impact on the disability services provider.
In some instances, the disability services provider may be able to undertake care and/or transition planning as part of their contracted care placement role. The advantage for this is that the social worker or other professional will have disability expertise, can liaise between agencies, and will have a good knowledge of what is available locally for the young person in terms of adult disability support services.
Discuss this with the disability services provider as part of considering a care placement with their organisation.
Planning the transition
Considerations when planning the transition:
- information about any income support that the disabled young person and their family/whānau may qualify for and how to apply for this support. There is a wide range of independent and supported living and disability supports available so it is important to talk to your Work and Income colleagues about this (see here for more information about health and disability related benefits)
- identification of transitional requirements with respect to the disabled young person’s educational and vocational services
- determination of eligibility for ORS funding from the Ministry of Education. If the young person is receiving ORS funding when they leave school they will receive transition support services.
- clarity regarding the young person’s guardianship needs and how these will be met. This may include considering an application under the Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act 1988. The necessary forms can be obtained from the Family Court. Ensure you consult a solicitor before progressing this as an option
- a process for discontinuing Oranga Tamariki funding and/or services
- identification of referral requirements to ensure that additional services are accessed (e.g. practical living skills such as money management or services to address developing difficult behaviours such as sexual offending)
- documentation of dates and processes for discontinuing Oranga Tamariki funding and/or services
- clarification as to who will monitor the transition process and how it will be monitored (for example, regular case meetings, liaison with other services, etc).
Most disabled young people will be eligible to transition to adult disability support services from 18 years of age. The transition process should include identifying if there is a suitable guardian for the disabled person once they exit Oranga Tamariki care.
For some disabled young people who don’t have adequate family/whānau supports, there may be a need for Oranga Tamariki to have an ongoing role under a guardianship order. This should be an active guardian role which is undertaken to complement the care placement and support role of the disability service provider. The social worker should seek legal advice from a solicitor on which type of guardianship order is appropriate under the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989.
The specific role and functions of guardianship should be discussed with the disabled young person and also communicated clearly to the disability services provider. Having guardianship orders should not affect an effective transition from Oranga Tamariki care to adult disability support services at age 18 years and there should be agreement between agencies on how the social worker will continue to support the disabled young person.
If a disabled young person needs assistance with the protection and promotion of their personal and property rights, planning should begin for a guardian to be nominated and to seek orders under the Protection of Personal, Property and Rights Act. This type of arrangement can be in place once they turn 18 years.
Given the complexities around transition for young people with high support needs, joint planning between agencies should start when the young person turns 15 years to allow three years planning.
Arrangements around transition will be factored into the young person's plan, which will then be reviewed regularly until they leave care.