When children and young people are living away from home or travelling
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.
When we are involved with children and young people who are travelling, either around the country or internationally, it is important to ensure that safe travel arrangements are put in place. While each situation will be different there are a number of factors that should be considered including:
- the age and developmental stage of the child or young person
- their emotional wellbeing
- the purpose of the travel
- how long the travel is going to take and how to ensure their wellbeing before, during and after travel
- whether they need someone with them, or who will deliver or collect them from their travel.
Ideally no child under the age of 14 years should travel unaccompanied.
In circumstances where the child or young person is able to travel unaccompanied, arrangements must be in place for them to be met at the end of the travel. Adequate consideration must be given to the child or young person’s safety and supervision while in transit.
While there are specific requirements governing the escorting of children and young people to and from residences, decisions about safe travel in all other circumstances can be made at a local level on a case by case basis.
For a child or young person whose behaviour may be challenging, air travel may not be the best option. Consideration of their safety and wellbeing as well as those of the people accompanying them and the public is important in determining the most appropriate mode of travel. It is important to also remember that if a young person has dual status (both care and protection and youth justice) the youth justice detention aspects takes precedence.
Airlines have policies in relation to children and young people travelling alone which must be followed when booking tickets and travelling. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and the airlines have agreed that children and young people can be divided into three broad groups:
- those who travel by air and do not need to be escorted because of their level of maturity e.g. visiting family, holidays
- those who travel by air and are escorted because their level of maturity means Oranga Tamariki does not wish them to travel alone
- those who travel by air and are escorted because their behaviour or circumstances indicate they may be a risk to themselves or others. This includes any child or young person whose behaviour is likely to cause concern while travelling. Two adults can be used for children and young people in this group. The social worker, in consultation with their supervisor, may make a judgement call as to who is suitable to travel with the child/young person. In these circumstances the airline is advised.
Aviation Security Service staff are able to screen and undertake reasonable searches of any person boarding certain aircraft. They are also permitted to search a child or young person if the child or young person consents.