Only 19% of children in State home care get weekly visit

children in state home care

Children in state care still need better support when the state sends them home.

An Independent Children’s Monitor report, Returning Home From Care, looks at experiences and practices when children and young people’s parents care for them while in state custody.

Report findings

As at 30 June 2022, 627 children and young people in care (12 percent) were living at home while in state custody.

The report says planning is important to success when the child or young person goes home. However, it says it found almost half the home stays were unplanned.

The Returning Home From Care policy used at the time recommended children be visited weekly for the first four weeks. The report says only 19 percent of children received these visits.

The report also says the children and young people whose return home was unplanned were visited less frequently during the first four weeks than those whose return was planned.

The report says that barriers arising from communication, collaboration, funding and inconsistent policies also pose problems.

These problems included long waiting lists for assessments and specialised support – like alcohol and drug counselling – for parents.

Data on children in state care successfully returning home was limited.

The report says Oranga Tamariki was unable to provide details about how many children and young people were removed from their parents’ care following a return home.

Going home – pros and cons

Aroturuki Tamariki Independent Children’s Monitor chief executive Arran Jones says the goal is for those in care to return home as long as it is assessed as safe.

“We heard that for many tamariki (children), rangatahi (young people) and whānau (familes), the supports and services are not in place,” Jones said.

“Our report found that planning is important to the success of tamariki returning home, however, data shows that almost half of these are unplanned.

“Some of those unplanned returns may be rangatahi voting with their feet, but it is important that social workers are checking on the safety of tamariki and rangatahi.

“We also heard that communication, collaboration and funding across the social sector were barriers to success. Lack of co-ordination in the policies and practice of government agencies was also identified as a barrier to a successful return home.”

Jones says there was room to do better for the sake of children and their parents.

Improvements promised

Oranga Tamariki’s Nicolette Dickson says work is underway to address many of the report findings.

These include developing new policy and supporting guidance for social workers when determining how and when to support children in state care to return home, and the way transitions from one environment to the other occur.

Technology systems are also being upgraded, Dickson says.

Oranga Tamariki’s strategies to simplify core processes and systems include working with other agencies to deliver Oranga Tamariki’s Action Plan best.

Oranga Tamariki is developing an information-sharing process with the Ministry of Social Development to fast-track eligible families’ position on the public housing register.


Additional reading

News category: New Zealand.

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