Use of support orders
Updated: 24 February 2018
What's Important To Us
The needs of mokopuna are best met when they are settled in a safe home environment with people they know love them and care for them. When mokopuna remain in or return to the care of family/whānau, it is important that they are provided with the support they need to reach their potential.
This key information outlines the use of support orders to meet the needs of mokopuna.
When to use a support order
There are times when a mokopuna can be safely cared for within their family/whānau with intensive support and oversight for a period of time.
When the care or protection of a mokopuna requires monitoring, and the family/whānau requires assistance to provide safe care, a section 91 support order under the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 enables formal social work involvement with a focus on support and monitoring.
A support order can eliminate the need for a custody order and can be used where guardianship and custody orders have been discharged and a further period of support and oversight is required.
Where mokopuna have returned to the care of their parents be guided by Returning mokopuna safely home.
Where there is a custody or sole guardianship order for the mokopuna in favour of the chief executive, a support order is not needed.
What is my role as the social worker?
The main purpose of a support order is to provide support and assistance to the mokopuna and their parents or caregivers. The level of support and assistance provided is determined by the individual strengths, risks and needs of the mokopuna and their family/whānau, and the conditions of the order. This is recorded in the report and plan filed in Court.
The social worker for the mokopuna has an obligation to lead the casework and maintain responsibility for monitoring that the needs and wellbeing of the child or young person are being met – keep this at the forefront of your work at all times.
The social worker brings life to the work, in accordance with the plan and conditions of the order. Read the Caring for mokopuna policy for more information relating to the social work role.
At all times keep a focus on:
- building and maintaining a relationship with the mokopuna, ensuring that their voice is heard. Keeping our focus on mokopuna provides more information and ideas for strengthening the engagement and participation of mokopuna
- visiting the mokopuna and their parents/caregivers. Visiting is how we ensure mokopuna are safe and their evolving needs are being met. They allow you to continually assess the wellbeing of mokopuna, evaluate progress with their plan and keep you engaged with the mokopuna and their family/whānau. The frequency of visits will be defined in the plan for the mokopuna and will be guided by the needs of the mokopuna and their family/whānau; at a minimum this should be every eight weeks. Visits with tamariki and rangatahi in care or custody provides information and ideas for how you can maximise the benefit of visiting
- working with other professionals and agencies who provide services and support to the mokopuna and their family/whānau. Working with other professionals provides you with detail about how to encourage and enhance these working relationships
- reviewing and monitoring the implementation of the plan for the mokopuna and reporting to the Court. The effectiveness report provides detail to ensure that the Court has sufficient information to judge how effective the order has been for the mokopuna. Refer to Planning and reviewing for guidance in this area.
As the social worker you have a key role to support the mokopuna and their family/whānau to complete the tasks identified in the plan for the mokopuna, build on their strengths, and keep everyone involved in the plan connected and working together constructively.
Prior to recommending or applying for the support order meet with those involved including the mokopuna and any agencies already engaged. Make sure you invite the school or education provider as well.
At the meeting agree how often you will visit, including seeing the mokopuna on their own and at home. You can visit more often if circumstances change or at random times – whichever you consider appropriate. Think about the needs and strengths of the mokopuna and how your visits and engagement can assist to meet these.
If you are worried about the mokopuna having contact with someone who is a danger to them, discuss this with the family/whānau and come to an agreement about how they will keep the mokopuna safe.
Consider the roles of the agencies involved and how everyone, (the mokopuna, parents/caregivers, family/whānau, and other involved people) will know that progress is being made.
Remember, the cplan for the mokopuna will be reviewed every three months in line with policy so think about the best way to bring everyone together to share information and celebrate progress.
What are the provisions of a support order?
A support order requires Oranga Tamariki to:
- appoint a social worker to provide support to the mokopuna - this includes the ability to visit and enter the premises where the mokopuna is living at reasonable times
- specify where, and with whom, the mokopuna cannot live
- provide or co-ordinate the provision of services and resources (including financial)
- monitor the care, protection and guidance (control) provided to, or over the mokopuna
- provide an effectiveness report to the Court at the expiry of the support order which outlines the response by the mokopuna child.
The parent or guardian or person with whom the mokopuna is living is required to ensure that the social worker knows the address of the mokopuna.
What other conditions can the Court impose?
The Court may also:
- direct the mokopuna to attend a particular programme or course, engage in treatment or therapy, not association with certain person/s, and undergo a specified medical examination
- impose conditions that reduce the likelihood of further offending
- impose conditions on the parent or guardian or usual caregivers of mokopuna aged 14-16 that assist them to carry out their duties and responsibilities and promote co-operation between all those providing support.
How long does a support order stay in effect?
Support orders can be for a period of time up to twelve months, but no longer, for mokopuna who are younger than 17 years of age.
Once the term of the order ends, the order ceases to have effect. There are no limits on the number of orders that can be made but if a further period of support is considered necessary, a new application needs to be made for a new order.
Plans and effectiveness reports
A plan is needed before a support order is made and a review of that plan must occur at least once every six months for a mokopuna younger than seven years of age. The review of the plan does not affect the existence of an order that has been made for more than six months. It is not the order that is reviewed but the plan that gives effect to that order.
In addition, on the expiry of the support order, the social worker must report to the Court about the effectiveness of the order, the response by the mokopuna to the order and any other information that is relevant.