Caring for children and young people
Updated: 01 July 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 via 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.
The plan for te tamaiti (the child or young person)
Every tamariki involved with Oranga Tamariki must have a plan which addresses their education, health, wellbeing, safety and care needs and includes:
- a permanent care goal and concurrent care goal
- planned objectives (changes that need to be achieved) and measures for these
- specific tasks for all participants, including tasks identified as part of the Gateway assessment Interagency Services Agreement (ISA)
- child-centred timeframes for achieving the changes
- frequency of social work contact with te tamaiti and their family/whānau
- a review date
- adequate financial planning that is discussed with the caregiver and tamariki to ensure adequate support is provided to implement the plan.
The plan and any other relevant documents are to be provided to all involved parties, including te tamaiti and their caregiver.
For tamariki in the custody of the chief executive, alongside the required formal review through the Family Court, informal reviews of the plan for te tamaiti using the Tuituia assessment framework must take place within three months of te tamaiti entering care, and every three months thereafter.
Tamariki have a right to freely express their views and participate in the preparation and review of their plans. Their views must be taken into account.
Tamariki we are working with have a right to express their views to an independent service about:
- matters important to them relating to their own circumstances
- general matters relating to processes and services they have experienced under the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 .
The social worker and coordinator must ensure that te tamaiti:
- knows about the relevant independent services, and how to access them
- has the support they need to express their views to a service.
Independent services can be external services or internal Oranga Tamariki services, including the Oranga Tamariki feedback and complaints process; VOYCE Whakarongo Mai; Residence Grievance Panels; the Children’s Commissioner’s Child Rights Advice Line.
What I can expect when I'm in care (Children's Charter)
All tamariki in the custody of the chief executive must:
- have a copy of What I can expect when I'm in care (Children's Charter)
- be talked through the brochure and have their questions answered
- if they are old enough, know how to access the Oranga Tamariki Complaints Resolution policy.
The social worker for te tamaiti is responsible for completing these tasks.
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.
Meeting health needs
All tamariki in the custody of the chief executive must:
- be referred for a Gateway assessment within 10 working days of entering care (as stated above)
- receive an initial health check if there is immediate health concerns
- receive routine medical and dental care at least annually or as required
- receive specialist medical and dental care when this is required
- receive specialist health (physical, mental, psychological) assessments if required
- be given the opportunity to lodge a claim through ACC (where appropriate).
Meeting education needs
Liaison and information sharing with educational providers
Where te tamaiti is in the custody of the chief executive, the social worker must ensure that the early childhood education centre or school that te tamaiti attends holds relevant up-to-date information about them including:
- the name and contact details of the social worker, the social worker's supervisor, and the current caregiver for te tamaiti
- the legal status of te tamaiti, and who the order is in favour of (e.g. custody order in favour of the chief executive)
- a list of people who can remove te tamaiti from the childhood centre or school or have contact with te tamaiti, and alerts to those who must not
- details of bail conditions that prevent contact between tamariki.
The social worker must liaise with the school or early childhood education centre to promote and advocate for the educational meeds of te tamaiti. This includes discussing and requesting the Gateway assessment educational profile from the teacher as this will assist the planning for te tamaiti.
Early childhood education
All tamariki from the age of 18 months until they go to school who are in the custody of the chief executive must be enrolled in up to 20 hours of quality early childhood education per week.
The exception to this is if there are situations when an assessment of te tamaiti indicates that early childhood education is not appropriate due to their needs or vulnerabilities. The site manager's approval is required for these exceptions and the decision must be supported in writing by a health professional or social worker reviewed regularly. A case note is required to identify the reason for te tamaiti not being enrolled in early childhood education and the plan around this.
There may be occasions where quality early childhood education is not immediately available in the caregiver’s community. In these circumstances the social worker must support the caregiver to find an appropriate early childhood education service, drawing on the support of local Ministry of Education staff where needed.
Consent for early childhood education enrolment
The decision to enrol te tamaiti in early childhood education rests with the guardian/s. As custodian, the chief executive must obtain the agreement of each guardian to enable enrolment in early childhood education. If reasonable efforts have been made to locate a guardian and it has not been possible to locate them, te tamaiti can be enrolled on the basis of the consent it is acceptable to enrol the child in early childhood education on the basis of the consent of the guardian/s who were able to be located. Good case noting is required to identify what steps were taken to locate an absentee guardian before the decision to proceed with enrolment was made.
If a guardian does not consent and the reasons for that refusal do not appear to be in the interests of te tamaiti, the social worker must give thought to whether it is appropriate for the chief executive to apply to be appointed as an additional guardian. In cases where the chief executive is an additional guardian, the social worker must bring the question of early childhood education, and the failure to reach agreement about that, to the notice of the Family Court via a section 115 application to determine a dispute between guardians.
Where the chief executive is a sole guardian, consent to early childhood education can be given by the chief executive. Contact must still be made with the parents/guardians as per section 8 of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 to inform about decisions that significantly affect te tamaiti.
Early childhood education for tamariki with an open intervention
Oranga Tamariki must encourage enrolment and attendance in early childhood education for all tamariki over the age of 18 months who are involved with the service.
Clothing, birthday and Christmas allowance and pocket money
All tamariki in the custody of the chief executive must have their reasonable clothing needs met including the provision of school uniforms.
All tamariki who are in a placement that is intended to be ongoing are entitled to receive a four-weekly clothing allowance payment, payable to the caregiver.
Foster care allowances (Clothing allowance)
Financial help (Current clothing rates)
Birthday and Christmas allowance
An allowance is paid to the caregiver to use for birthday and Christmas celebrations/presents for te tamaiti. Each allowance is at half the rate of the board payment.
Pocket money is a portion of the board payment and must be paid to all tamariki in the custody of the chief executive by the caregiver.
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.
Use of cameras for monitoring purposes
The installation of cameras in an approved placement is not allowed. Placement in this context has the meaning given it under section 362 of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 . For the avoidance of doubt, this policy statement is intended to cover placements with the chief executive and with providers approved under section 396.
There may be exceptional circumstances where the use of cameras is a necessary method of ensuring the safety of te tamaiti, and the required level of supervision can not be managed through other means. In those cases, where the installation and use of cameras for monitoring purposes is considered necessary and in the best interests of te tamaiti, prior approval must be given by the relevant DCE Services for children and families.
Approval must not be given for equipment that stores or holds images.
Requests for approval need to cover the following:
- How the use of the camera is in the best interests of te tamaiti.
- The view of te tamaiti about the use of a camera.
- The parents/guardians’ views about the use of a camera.
- If appointed, the Counsel for Child or Youth Advocate’s view about the use of a camera.
- The purpose and outcomes sought and how these outcomes will be evaluated.
- The type of equipment to be used and where cameras will be positioned.
- How the camera will be used, including whether it will be on when there are visitors in the home.
- The name/s of persons who will use the cameras and relevant background information about that person/s.
- How those living in and visiting the home will be made aware of the cameras.
- How the use of the camera will be monitored.
Standard payment and set-up grant
In addition to the board payment, all Oranga Tamariki caregivers (including family home caregivers) must be paid a standard payment of $20.00 per fortnight per tamariki in their care to cover small cost items (e.g. prescription charges, additional school stationery, a school outing, a birthday present for a friend, something special to celebrate a particular achievement, a regular cellphone top up, a hobby, a gold coin donation/koha, etc).
Oranga Tamariki caregivers (excluding caregivers for Family Homes and permanent caregivers for under two year olds) at the time of their very first placement will be eligible for a $350.00 set-up grant to ensure they have the right equipment to meet the needs of te tamaiti they will care for.
When there are multiple children what the caregiver needs to meet the needs of the children/young people may exceed what the $350.00 will purchase. As immediate needs must be met, Site Managers must continue to use their discretion as to the total additional level of financial support required – specifying items required and acquiring quotes for approval.
When travel costs for tamariki in care exceed 40km per week per tamariki, extra support with travel must be provided to the caregivers (including Family Home caregivers).
In those situations, travel exceeding 40km per week must be reimbursed to the caregiver at the rate of 77 cents per km (IRD maximum tax free rate), or at a rate not exceeding the daily costs of a rental car of $42.00 plus fuel. Prior approval by the site manager is required for all additional financial support for monkopuna-related travel.
Where the caregiver is transporting more than one tamariki in care, the reimbursement is for the amount of travel over the combined number of km funded within the foster care allowance for each tamariki. This means that if there are three tamariki in a placement, and each is funded up to 40km per week for tamariki-related travel, their combined travel for the week must exceed 120km per week before the caregiver is eligible to make a claim for reimbursement.
Reimbursement for travel does not occur post-permanent placement.
Family Home caregivers must keep a travel log for each tamariki in their care, given that there can be tamariki placed in family homes from across the operational area and there may be multiple offices involved.
If Family Home caregivers are supplied with a Oranga Tamariki vehicle and fuel card, they are not eligible for the travel allowance or any additional financial support for transporting tamariki.
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).
Contact with family/whānau and other significant people
All tamariki who are placed away from their parents (or usual caregivers) must have written, in their plan, details about contact with family/whānau, siblings, and other significant people that will meet the needs and requirements of the particular tamariki.
Decisions around contact must consider the views of te tamaiti, the history for te tamaiti and the people whom te tamaiti feels close to, bearing in mind that the nature of relationships can change over time.
Within 10 working days of entering care (under sections 78, 101, 102, 110(2)(a), 139 and 140), all mokopuna must be referred for a Gateway assessment.
A Gateway assessment referral must also be made prior to a care and protection family group conference being convened so that the completed assessment can be considered at the family group conference to help clarify and identify ways to address the health and education needs of the mokopuna.
If there are any immediate concerns for the health of a mokopuna (regardless of their care status), an initial health check must be undertaken.
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.