Planning and reviewing
Updated: 24 February 2017
This key information looks at our general approach to planning and reviewing.
What's Important To Us
Clear and comprehensive plans are the basis of improving outcomes for mokopuna. Planning and reviewing are vital components of our work: planning gives us a baseline against which to compare our progress, and reviewing is the means by which we measure how far we have come. When we intervene in the life of a family/whānau, it is important that we have a clear, time-framed, outcomes-focused and evidence-based plan that is developed in partnership with mokopuna, their family/whānau and others involved with them. Plans need to be actively implemented, monitored for progress, regularly reviewed and have recognisable and achievable goals.
This key information looks at our general approach to planning and reviewing.
See Key information:
When does a mokopuna need a plan?
Every mokopuna for whom we have an intervention will have a plan that supports and outlines their overall outcomes, details how everyone will work towards achieving these outcomes, and outlines the monitoring and review arrangements.
Planning is informed by careful assessment and involves the co-operative effort of mokopuna, family/whānau, the social worker and other professionals.
Mokopuna have a right to express their views in matters affecting them and it is critical that this is central to any plan that affects them. Even very young mokopuna have a right to participate, and they must be supported to do this safely. Think creatively about how you can ensure that their voice is heard: Can they attend meetings or court? Can they write down what they want to see happen? Can someone help them speak or speak for them if they can't attend? Consider:
- how to ensure the physical and emotional safety of the mokopuna while still enabling them to participate
- how you will enable and encourage mokopuna to present their views in a way that is meaningful to them e.g. through pictures and letters or using Three Houses
- assisting them to identify people who can support and talk for them if they are unable to do this themselves
- supporting them to talk in a language they feel comfortable with and to share how they feel about the decisions being made
- if they are too young, or are unable to participate, is there an effective means of including their views in the conference process
- giving mokopuna information about what will be covered in a hui ā-whānau and/or their family group conference.
What is needed in the plan?
Plans should include risk statements outlining why we are involved and what we are worried about. These statements should include details of the actual or potential impact of the identified concerns on mokopuna, describe the behaviour that causes this concern and state whose behaviour it is that needs to change. The risk statements will then form the basis of the plan that is required. Building the plan for the mokopuna from these statements also helps make the plan reviewable, and keeps it relevant.
All plans need to be written in plain language that mokopuna and their family/whānau will understand. Working in partnership with all those involved with the mokopuna will result in greater ownership and understanding by all parties when the plan is implemented.
The plan should describe the outcomes for mokopuna that the interventions are trying to achieve and the behavioural changes required in order to achieve those outcomes. Behavioural changes are not the same as outcomes; they are one method to achieve the desired outcomes. Outcome-focused plans describe the noticeable changes that will be seen in the life of mokopuna, rather than just listing tasks to be completed. The outcomes should be measurable and the plan should describe how we will know whether the plan has made a difference.
Ensure that there are clear objectives that describe the outcomes we are working towards. The objectives of the plan should be informed by the known risks and needs of mokopuna, and the plan addresses what we are worried about by making objectives the opposite of the risk statement/s.
The plan should reflect the strengths of the mokopuna and their family/whānau. These strengths should be drawn on to support the outcomes the plan is seeking to achieve for mokopuna. The plan should be written in strengths based language that emphasises achieving positive changes as opposed to reducing or removing negative behaviours.
The plan should identify the people responsible for each of the actions in the plan, the people responsible for monitoring the plan, the roles and responsibilities of each participant and what will happen if the plan goes off track. The plan should also state how and when it is going to be reviewed.
SMART planning – a framework for creating good plans
Good planning follows the simple rule — it needs to be SMART:
Further detail on the content requirements for plans developed at a family group conference and/or agreed to in court
Implementing and distributing the plan
In order to support the actions identified in the plan, copies should be made available to anyone who has a role in implementing the plan and therefore has a legitimate interest in receiving it. This may include caregivers, teachers or others where they are actively involved in the plan. It is especially important that caregivers receive the plan to ensure that they understand their roles and responsibilities.
When the plan has been developed at a family group conference or agreed in Court, then there is law that affects who may receive a copy of the plan.
If the matter is before the Court and you believe that a teacher or caregiver or other interested person should have access to the plan for the mokopuna, you must seek the Court’s leave to provide a copy to the interested person. In addition, if you believe that the plan should not to be disclosed to certain people, or should only be partially disclosed, you need to inform the Court because decisions such as these remain at the Court’s discretion. For plans developed at a family group conference, it is the responsibility of the care and protection co-ordinator to ensure that the record of decisions, recommendations and tasks made at the family group conference be given or sent to interested persons. In some circumstances, the social worker may recommend to the care and protection co-ordinator that a person has a genuine interest in receiving a copy of the plan (s33(2)(d)). If the coordinator considers that this person should receive a copy the they will release it in whole or in part.
Monitoring and reviewing plans
Monitoring is a continual process of assessing how well the plan is meeting the needs of mokopuna and achieving the objectives set. It means:
- keeping the plan active and ensuring it is meeting the needs of mokopuna circumstances can change quickly and active monitoring ensures that the services and supports wrapped around mokopuna are the right ones
- keeping in touch with all those party to the plan, sharing information, celebrating the successes, checking out any concerns or worries
- active engagement with mokopuna - seeing how things look through their eyes
- responding quickly if a change to the plan is needed.
Every plan needs to be reviewed by the social worker for the mokopuna via a meeting involving the mokopuna (if appropriate), their caregiver, their family/whānau, and the professionals working with them within. The purpose of the review meeting is to:
- share and evaluate information and progress since the last review
- celebrate the successes
- note the things that aren't going so well
- discuss changes to the plan if needed.
A written and shared record of the review meeting and the revised plan is necessary in order to keep everyone working towards the same outcomes.
There are specific requirements for reviewing plans developed at a family group conference and plans agreed to in Court. Plans must be reviewed within six months if mokopuna is under the age of seven years or within twelve months if mokopuna is over seven. These are statutory minimums, and a review should happen earlier if the circumstances have changed and the plan no longer meets the needs of mokopuna.
A social worker can require a care and protection co-ordinator to reconvene a family group conference in order to review the plan for the mokopuna plan if there has been a change in circumstances such that the plan no longer addresses the needs of mokopuna. The social worker’s referral must include the reasons why they believe a family group conference is required.
If the social worker makes a referral to reconvene the family group conference then they should ensure that:
- the Tuituia assessment is current, risk statements are updated and key information is shared with participants
- one or more family group conference planning meetings takes place to help prepare for the family group conference
- if the plan has not been working, the reasons why have been discussed with family/whānau and they have been encouraged to consider possible solutions that they can present at the review.
In addition, the co-ordinator should ensure that:
- any relevant information (including reports or assessments) is discussed with participants, in a way that they understand
- invitation letters are sent out to participants at least two weeks before the scheduled review to enable them the opportunity to share their perspective on how the plan is progressing.
It is helpful to remember that a conference convened for the purpose of review does not need to first agree that a mokopuna is in need of care and protection as this has already been established at the earlier conference or in Court. A social worker can also require a care and protection co-ordinator to reconvene a family group conference for the purpose of reviewing a plan that has een agreed to in Court.