Use of secure care in care and protection and youth justice residences
What's Important To Us
We are all committed to working together to help our vulnerable children and young people thrive. When children and young people are required to come into our residences we want them to feel safe and secure. On occasions, it may be necessary for a child or young person to be placed in secure care in order for them to be safe.
Entering secure care is the highest form of intervention available within the residence. It is not a punishment and before the use of secure care, it is expected that a wide range of interventions are used or considered.
When in secure care, our focus must be to provide more support to help the child or young person work towards understanding their behaviour or working through strategies to keep themselves safe; this occurs through intensive activities and interventions.
This key information outlines the principles and requirements for placing and keeping a child or young person in secure care.
Secure care is the highest form of intervention available within the residence. It is not a punishment. Before we use secure care, it is expected that a wide range of interventions are used or considered.
When in secure care, our focus is on supporting the child or young person to work towards understanding their behaviour or work through strategies to keep themselves safe — this occurs through intensive activities and interventions.
What the policy says
The Working with children and young people in residences policy says that:
Children and young people can only be admitted to secure care under section 368(1)(a) and (b) of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 and with the approval of a team leader or staff member on Senior Duty Roster.
When an admission to secure care is considered appropriate, all children and young people must:
- receive structured reflection work related to the grounds for their admission
- be reviewed daily to decide if the grounds still exist for them to remain in secure care — the person responsible for the secure unit or staff member on the Senior Duty Roster must complete this review
- be removed from secure care as soon as is safe and practicable and in the child or young person's best interests
- not be in secure care for more than 3 consecutive days or 72 hours continuously without an application being made to the court to extend this time.
- We must be certain that the child or young person who is being placed in secure care meets the legal grounds under section 368(1)(a) and (b) of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 with the approval of a team leader or staff member on Senior Duty Roster, and the child or young person is aware of the reasons for this.
- We must involve the child or young person in any assessments, planning or reviews of their behaviour.
- We must notify the child or young person’s parents or guardian, or the person who cared for them prior to entering residence, and their youth advocate/lawyer, as soon as possible after the child or young person is placed in secure care, and send them a follow-up letter within 24 hours.
- While in secure care, children and young people must have organised and structured programmes that focus on moderating their behaviour.
- After a review finds that the grounds for secure care no longer exist, the child or young person must leave secure care.
- If a child or young person is to remain in secure care longer than three consecutive days, prior approval must be granted by the Court.
- Staff must complete training on secure care and understand the grounds for placing children and young people in secure care and the time limits that apply.
- Staff must complete the Daily Log and the secure care register.
Entering secure care
On entering secure care, we must ensure the child or young person:
- is aware of the reasons (grounds) for entering secure care
- understands that the purpose of secure care is to provide them with more support to help them with their behaviour
- is central to their assessment and plan development, and that the focus for the child or young person is on access to a range of planned, purposeful and varied activities that support them to move from secure care back to the open unit
- understands that they will have a review at least once a day.
Secure Care Log
On / throughout entering
Accurately record details of entering and leaving secure care and any other significant event.
Secure Care Register
Care Team and TL in charge of secure care
On / throughout entering
Records details of secure care placement.
Ensure reviews are completed daily.
Ensure secure care plan is completed and signed off by a shift leader.
Substances & Choices Scale and the Kessler & Suicide Screens (SKS)
Care team/clinical team
Day of entry to secure care
If assessed as moderate to high risk, refer to TWB and inform case leader, TLO and TLC.
Telephone (during business hours)
Immediately if possible
Record in Secure Care Register.
Within 24 hours of entering
Copies placed on child or young person’s file.
 Different tasks can be split between clinical and care teams, and/or duty manager.
How long children and young people can stay in secure care
Secure care must not exceed 3 consecutive days unless an extension of secure care is obtained from the Court.
When a child or young person has been in secure care and is released on the third consecutive day, a full calendar day must pass before they can re-enter secure care, unless approval is granted from the Court.
Calculating length of stay - 3 consecutive days
For details refer to: Calculating length of stay resource
A child or young person cannot be in secure care for a continuous period of more than 3 consecutive days (whether continuously or not), unless under s376 where the Court can authorise continued detention.
Leaving and re-entering secure care (without a whole calendar day)
If a review determines that grounds for secure care no longer remain, the child or young person must leave secure care.
If they re-enter secure care without a whole calendar day out of secure care, it is considered a consecutive day and is counted as part of the total three consecutive days allowed.
Prior to the end of the third consecutive day, the child or young person must leave secure care. They cannot remain in or re-enter secure care without approval for continued detention from the Court.
Consecutive secure care placements (with one calendar day clear)
When the child or young person has been in secure care for three consecutive days and leaves, and they spend a full clear calendar day in the open unit, they can re-enter secure care as long as the re-entry is treated as a new re-entry and the grounds for entry exist. The re-entry starts again as day one.
Room confinement (Regulation 48)
Under some circumstances (see Regulation 48) the child or young person may be required to be confined to his or her room. This is a high-level intervention and requires close monitoring and careful reporting.
The child or young person must only remain in their room for a short time period. Review their grounds for confinement constantly (for example every ten minutes, half hourly or hourly — this is dependent on the overall situation).
If they are confined between the hours of 8am and 8pm, undertake checks every five minutes — but on occasion checks should occur sooner so they are not predictable
Overnight checks should occur at least every 30 minutes.
All recordings must be made in the Daily Log.
A child or young person can also be confined to their room for short periods between 5pm and 8pm for a specific behavioural management programme.
If there are concerns around self-harm or suicidal ideation, refer to Key Information: When suicide risk is identified.
Preparing an application for continued detention in secure care
If there are grounds for a child or young person to remain in secure care for more than three consecutive days, the Team Leader Clinical Practice must request an application for continued detention in secure care (‘retention’).
Make this application before the time period for secure care is exceeded.
A retention can be made and not used — you must state in the application that there may be a requirement for this retention.
Remember that just because a retention has been obtained doesn't mean that the child or young person has to remain in secure care, but at least the authority is there if needed. Even with authority from the Court, the grounds for continued detention must still apply.
The Team Leader Clinical Practice must ensure that the following documentation is completed in CYRAS:
- an Information sheet
- a notice of application relation to detention of secure care
- an affidavit
- a certificate of service
The lawyer or solicitor for Oranga Tamariki must be notified that an application for continued detention in secure care is being made. They will check the application and if the matter is heard in Court, will provide legal representation for Child, Youth and Family.
Record the details of the application in the secure care register.
Filing an application for continued detention in secure care
After approval by legal services the application is filed in Court, the Court Registrar (on an ex-parte) will approve or decline it.
Once approved, the Court Registrar will grant the approval for a further three days of detention in secure care as per s372 (this is called an ‘ex-parte without notice’ — to the child or young person). This enables a date for a hearing to be set should the child or young person intend to defend the application, and allows for the engagement of the Judge.
The Court Registrar appoints a lawyer to the child or young person who assists the child or young person with one of three options:
- defending the application in Court
- negotiating and consenting to a shorter period of continued detention in secure care
- consenting to the total period of continued detention set out in the application.
If the Court Registrar declines the application, the child or young person must be placed back into the open unit before the time limit for detention in secure care is exceeded.
Defending the application in Court
If the application is defended in Court and the Court is satisfied with the grounds outlined in the application, up to 14 days of continued detention in secure care can be granted.
- Staff may be called as witnesses to give evidence about the application in Court during this process.
- If the Court does not grant the application for continued detention in secure care then the child or young person is to leave secure care immediately.
Consenting to an application
- If the child or young person consents to a period of continued detention in secure care following legal advice, the lawyer appointed to the child or young person will advise the Court.
- The Court will provide notification in writing of the Judge’s decision to approve the period of continued secure care detention.
Re-integration to the open unit after continued detention in secure care
When the child or young person has spent considerable time in secure care, they may need time to re-integrate back into the open unit. Before re-integrating into the open unit staff must check that:
- there is a current secure retention in place
- the reintegration plan is presented to and agreed to by the Judge as part of the plan for renewal of secure retention
- the re-integration plan does not include any offsite activities.
Remember, once a child or young person has left secure care, the retention ceases to be in effect. If re-entry to secure care is required on that day, a new retention will be required, or a full calendar day must elapse before re-entry.
Voluntary secure placements and reluctance to leave secure care
Occasionally a child or young person may ‘voluntarily’ ask to be placed into secure care or may ask to remain in secure care.
Any entry to, and continued placement in, secure care must meet the grounds in s368 and the timeframes in s370.
If a child or young person does not want to leave the secure care area and they no longer meet s368 criteria or they have exceeded the time limit they can be offered a quiet space and support until they are ready to join in with regular activities.
The child or young person must be advised that they are able to leave secure care at any time they wish, and the child or young person’s youth advocate or lawyer must be informed.
Monitoring and reviewing progress
Children and young people must be actively encouraged to participate in their reviews which will determine whether grounds exist or not. Review information is recorded in the secure care register.
There are two types of review:
The child or young person must be involved in their daily review.
The purpose of the review is to decide if the grounds for secure care continue to exist and whether the child or young person is ready to leave.
The Team Leader Operations in charge of secure is responsible for coordinating and completing the daily review and ensures the right people are at the review.
Reviews include the child or young person and the person in-charge of secure care.
The child or young person may require mediation and this is organised by the shift leader.
The secure care register is completed following a review and details all individuals who attended the review and the decisions made. If the child or young person did not attend the review, reasons for their absence must be recorded in the secure care register.
This is completed for a child or young person under continuous detention on or before day 7.
The Residence Manager or delegated Team Leader Operations reviews the case and approves or declines the continued detention.
The Residence Manager or delegated Team Leader Operations completing the review needs to ensure they sign this off in the secure care register.
Leaving secure care
When a review is completed and grounds for secure care no longer exist, the secure care shift leader liaises with the open unit shift leader and the child or young person must leave immediately.
Care Team (Secure Team)
- Checks that grounds for secure care are met and the use of room confinement is lawful.
- Completes the Daily Log book, secure care register, and entry documentation.
- Implements and provides planned, purposeful and varied activities as per the structured day programme.
- Assesses progress of activities.
- Manages the transition of children and young people back into the open unit.
- Undertakes daily reviews for children and young people in secure care.
- Checks that the correct procedures are carried out by the Care Team at all times.
- Oversees the structured day programme and any other planned clinical interventions.
- Determines when a secure care application is required, in consultation with TLO.
- Provides clinical advice and interventions when preparing the child or young person’s secure care plan.
- Completes continued detention paperwork as required.
- Participates in daily reviews.
- Designs the child or young person’s activities and provides clinical guidance for relevant activities such as regulating behaviour and transitions back to the open unit.
Team Leader Clinical Practice
- Provides clinical guidance to case leaders around the use of interventions for secure care.
- Provides oversight for the completion of secure care applications for continued detention and communicates details of the application to team leader operations and care teams.
Team Leader Operations
- Approves requests from care team to place children and young people in secure care.
- In consultation with TLCP gives guidance when a secure care application is required.
- Monitors secure care placements and the use of room confinement to check they are lawful and necessary.
- Monitors daily review procedures of child and young person and advises the Residence Manager of any issues.
- Checks the quality of activities, use of secure care regulations, and the Daily Log.
- Attends Court hearings for any continued secure care applications.
- Informed of all placements in secure care.
- Routinely checks that all procedures in secure care are lawful.
- Undertakes seven day reviews for children and young people subject to continued detention, they may delegate to the Team Leader.
- Checks that all staff have received training on managing children and young people in secure care.