Caring for children and young people
Updated: 19 August 2019
What's important to us
We want all tamariki (children and young people) to reach their potential. Wherever possible we need to support their family/whānau to care safely for them, and to support extended family/whānau to provide care when tamariki are unable to live with their parents. This includes working in partnership with family/whānau, supporting their participation in decision-making, and the provision of safe and secure care of their tamariki.
This policy outlines key expectations when working with tamariki where Oranga Tamariki has casework responsibility, under an open intervention phase — care or protection and youth justice.
This includes all tamariki involved with Oranga Tamariki through family/whānau agreements, care agreements, plans developed at a family group conference, and court orders. Some sections apply only to tamariki in the custody of the chief executive.
Utilising care agreements instead of custody orders
If a tamariki is unable to remain at home but the plan is for them to return after a period in care, consideration must first be given to using a care agreement (s139 or s140 under the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 rather than a custody order.
If te tamaiti is in the custody of the chief executive, they must be placed with an approved caregiver. All efforts must first be made to identify a safe and appropriate placement with family/whānau.
Caregivers provide the day-to-day care of te tamaiti and are entitled to a board payment for this care. This also includes placements overseas.
Siblings must be placed together where possible and/or practicable unless there are safety concerns that require addressing.
Safe sleep environment
All tamariki under two years of age who are in the custody of the chief executive and living away from home, including those placed with providers, must sleep in age-appropriate safe sleep equipment at all times.
The social worker placing te tamaiti must ensure that the caregiver has age-appropriate safe sleep equipment for te tamaiti at the time of placement, and also for times when the caregiver and tamariki are staying away from their home. In cases when the caregiver does not have age-appropriate safe sleep equipment, Oranga Tamariki must support them to provide this.
All tamariki in the custody of the chief executive must not share a sleep surface when any adult or other tamariki at any time.
The assessment of prospective Oranga Tamariki caregivers seeking to care for tamariki under two years of age will include SUDI prevention information, equipment checks and an assessment of the caregiver’s understanding of safe sleeping, which will be documented in the caregiver assessment report.
The review of caregivers approved to provide care for tamariki under two years of age must include a review of SUDI prevention information and equipment checks and an update of the caregiver’s understanding of safe sleeping, which will be documented in the caregiver review report.
Smoke free environment
All tamariki in the custody of the chief executive and living away from home, including those placed with providers, must be provided with a smoke free environment at all times, which means:
- no smoking in the presence of te tamaiti
- a smoke free home
- a smoke free car.
The assessment of prospective Oranga Tamariki caregivers must include an assessment of the willingness and capacity of the caregivers to provide a smoke free environment, which will be documented in the caregiver assessment report.
Oranga Tamariki reviews of its caregivers will include a review of the willingness and capacity of the caregivers to provide a smoke free environment, which will be documented in the caregiver review report.
When a prospective family/whānau caregiver is unwilling or unable to provide a smoke free environment, professional judgement must be used to assess the best interests of te tamaiti alongside the family/whānau caregiver’s smoking practice. The analysis and rationale for any exception to the provision of a smoke free environment will be detailed in the caregiver assessment report and the delegation for caregiver approval will rest with a supervisor.
All tamariki under seven years of age must be secured in an approved child restraint appropriate for their age and size for every ride. Tamariki aged seven years and older must be secured in an approved child restraint or seat belt if one is available.
For more information about child restraints for tamariki, see the NZTA's child restraints save lives brochure.
Status when placing in a Oranga Tamariki residence
A status under s78, s101, s110(2)(a), s235, s238(1)(d) or s311 enable placement in a s364 residence.
Tamariki and rangatahi whose offending is being dealt with in the adult jurisdiction may also be placed in a residence in accordance with the following provisions:
- s34A of the Corrections Act — children and young people sentenced to imprisonment
- s173, s174, s175(1A) or s175(2) of the Criminal Procedure Act 2011 — children and young people in remand.
Approval of multiple placements
When considering placing more than one unrelated tamariki with caregiver(s), the placement must be approved by a supervisor in consultation with the social worker for te tamaiti. This is to ensure the caregiver(s) can meet the particular needs of all tamariki in their care. Note: Sibling groups must be considered for their individual needs and counted as such.
When considering placing three or more unrelated tamariki with a caregiver(s), including family home caregivers, Regional Manager approval must be given before the placement is made. This number is exclusive of the caregiver's own tamariki.
There must never be more than six tamariki placed in a Family Home at any time.
When tamariki are placed informally (without a custody status) by their parents or usual caregiver, the social worker must assist the family/whānau to ensure the people providing care are financially supported, through either Work and Income, Oranga Tamariki, or other support agencies, to meet the reasonable needs of te tamaiti (e.g. grocery vouchers, petrol costs, emergency clothing, etc).
Approved independent living arrangements
If a traditional care arrangement can't be found or isn't suitable, the rangatahi may be able to live independently if they're over 16, are working or studying, have adequate practical life skills and an identified network of support around them.
When an independent living arrangement can be approved
We can support independent living arrangements for rangatahi 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 rangatahi must:
- be 16 or over
- have adequate practical and life skills
- a network of support they can call on for help
- 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 rangatahi by:
- addressing any identified risks
- assessing the safety, suitability and sustainability of the planned living arrangement
- confirming the support network available to the rangatahi
- the site manager giving their approval. If the rangatahi 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 rangatahi 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.