The following information was requested from the three agencies.
- Provide any evidence of assurance that the systems and processes in place to identify any allegations of abuse or neglect are working as per your policy; in particular, the assurance processes relating to whether all/any allegations have been identified and reported.
- Please provide any insights from analysis of data that have resulted in a change to practice and any action plans that have been put in place to improve performance relevant to regulation 69.
These agencies have a differing role to that of Oranga Tamariki regarding an allegation of abuse or neglect. Oranga Tamariki carries out the investigation and the relevant agency supports te tamaiti, whānau and caregivers through the process, and updates tamariki and caregiver plans following the outcome of the investigation. All agencies have an obligation to report any allegation regarding a child in their care or custody to Oranga Tamariki as soon as staff are made aware of the concern.
Due to the differing roles, different questions were asked of the three agencies. These were based around the systems, processes and assurances used when involved in an allegation of abuse or neglect.
Barnardos reported that it had not received any allegations of risk of harm caused by abuse or neglect over the last 12-month reporting period. As such, the Monitor did not carry out validation activities.
In reporting to the Monitor, Barnardos noted it has created a risk of harm spreadsheet and updates its records into its updated client management system. The spreadsheet provides all staff a national view of child protection incidents or serious incidents that meet the threshold of regulation 69. Barnardos reports it continues to regularly review and update policies to respond to an allegation of abuse or neglect, and it can respond quickly and safely.
Dingwall Trust also reported that it did not receive any allegations of risk of harm caused by abuse or neglect over the last 12-month reporting period for children in its custody. As such, the Monitor did not carry out validation activities.
From its reporting, Dingwall Trust stated that the responsibility for incident reporting currently sits with its social work team. The Trust is trialling an incident reporting application, PeopleSafe.
Dingwall Trust reports it continues to regularly review and update its policies to respond to an allegation of abuse or neglect, and it can respond quickly and safely.
Open Home Foundation
Open Home Foundation reported that its Abuse Allegations of Child or Young Person in Care policy and associated process has been updated. The Monitor undertook a site visit to hear the experiences of staff in dealing with regulation 69.
It was reported by Open Home Foundation that, resulting from analysis of its processes, it has updated its policies to state that foster parents must be informed that there is a possibility that the Police may become involved in an allegation of abuse or neglect.
Open Home Foundation discussed with the Monitor that it is the role of Oranga Tamariki to undertake the investigation of an allegation of abuse or neglect. The role of Open Home Foundation is to report any allegation to Oranga Tamariki, ensure that all the standards under regulation 69 are undertaken, and support tamariki, rangatahi, their whānau and the caregiver. Following the outcome of the investigation, Open Home Foundation develops and implements revised child and caregiver plans. Open Home Foundation staff told the Monitor they appreciated the strong working relationship with their local Oranga Tamariki site. Throughout the process, the agency is updated on developments by Oranga Tamariki.
Open Home Foundation reported that it has been improving its systems and processes, and this has brought greater clarity for its frontline social workers. The client management system has been updated to enable leadership to track the progress of any allegation of abuse or neglect in real time and is actively used. Staff are given comprehensive training to ensure that tamariki wellbeing is at the centre of the process.
It was also reported that staff support tamariki, rangatahi and caregivers both during and after the investigation. The social worker for the child will consult with the social worker for the caregiver to ensure that when they review the plans they work well together.
The Monitor spoke to several members of the team at one Open Home Foundation service centre. Like the engagement with Oranga Tamariki sites, the views of the Open Home Foundation staff do not reflect the views of all staff but do provide a snapshot of the mahi undertaken at that service centre.
The staff reported to the Monitor that as an organisation it does not deal with many allegations of abuse. The team members the Monitor spoke with had sound knowledge of the organisation’s policies and procedures regarding regulation 69.
These staff reported that the policies and procedures were clear and allowed them to work quickly and collaboratively, and the way the organisation has set up this process allows staff to feel confident when dealing with an allegation of abuse or neglect. A staff member commented to the Monitor that they feel supported and do not have to do anything alone.