When children and young people move (including overseas)
Updated: 23 April 2021
What's important to us
Changing locations is a particularly vulnerable time for mokopuna, which means it is even more important that we continue to be child-centred in our every interaction and always put the best interests of mokopuna first. This includes their need for cultural connectivity. It is our job to make sure their transition is as smooth as possible.
This policy outlines requirements when mokopuna are living outside their home country or travelling internationally. There is a new policy for casework responsibilities when our work involves more than 1 site – when tamariki are living outside their normal area or travelling within New Zealand.
While COVID-19 is affecting international travel, people should also be referring to the new guidance.
COVID-19 guidance for international travel of tamariki and rangatahi in care
Mokopuna in the custody of the chief executive, or for whom the chief executive is party to a plan resulting from a family group conference, will only be placed overseas under exceptional circumstances when:
- the overseas placement is in their best interests; and
- the overseas authority has recommended that the proposed caregivers are safe and suitable; and
- the chief executive’s legal obligations have been discharged by the Court or any plan the chief executive is party to has been reviewed and concluded; and
- upon departure from New Zealand the case is closed; and
- the mokopuna is able to permanently reside in the relevant country; and
- the new caregivers are able and willing to legally assume custody and guardianship of the mokopuna.
Overseas placement is a guardianship decision and the consent of all guardians in writing must be obtained prior to the placement being made. This includes consent from any additional guardians granted under the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 or the Care of Children Act 2004. If the guardians are not in agreement about the overseas placement, the Family Court must make the final decision.
The placement must be approved by the relevant DCE, Services for Children and Families.
When the family group conference is being held as a result of a s19 referral by a Child and Family Support Service, that service is responsible for taking adequate steps to check that the prospective caregivers are able to adequately meet the care and protection needs of the mokopuna.
Overseas travel for mokopuna in the custody of the chief executive
Overseas holidays with usual caregiver/s must receive written consent from the parents/guardians of the mokopuna and must be approved by the site manager.
When a mokopuna is travelling overseas without their usual caregivers and staying with temporary/holiday caregivers, an overseas caregiver assessment and approval of these temporary/holiday caregivers must be completed.
Written consent for the travel is required from the parents/guardians of the mokopuna. If consent is given and the appropriate assessment conducted, approval for travel must then be obtained from the site manager. When the travel is for four or more weeks, approval from the regional manager is required.
When a mokopuna is to travel overseas on a school trip and their caregiver or a guardian is not accompanying them, the social worker must ascertain that the trip is appropriately organised and supervised. They must also receive written consent from the parents/guardians and have the travel arrangements approved by their site manager.
When a mokopuna travels overseas without a guardian, their social worker must ensure that the mokopuna has an identified adult who knows how to manage any decisions that may be required whilst away, including medical decisions. In some situations this may mean an adult being appointed by the Family Court to become a guardian for a specific purpose.
Overseas travel where consent from parents/guardians is not given cannot proceed without the direction of the Family Court. The chief executive can apply to be appointed as a guardian if he or she is not already. Application for additional guardianship can be sought generally or for the specific purpose of considering overseas travel. Once the chief executive is appointed as an additional guardian, an application can be made to the Court to determine the dispute between guardians pursuant to s115 of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989.