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The following information was requested from Oranga Tamariki.

In line with your continuous improvement programme, in relation to the 12 performance measures identified in Oranga Tamariki operational policies for compliance with regulation 69(2) (a-d), please outline:

  • which (if any) measures you consider to be areas for improvement
  • which (if any) measures you consider to be areas of high performance
  • what your target percentage for compliance cases against each measure is for the next reporting year
  • if any measures have been identified as areas for improvement and provide your action plan for how you will aim to improve performance

Oranga Tamariki has undertaken a programme of continuous improvement activities and acknowledges the need for further improvements in consistency of practice related to the implementation of the NCS Regulations. From its own internal self-assessment, it has already set some immediate areas for focus as follows.

  • Responding to allegations of harm and ensuring that areas for practice improvement can be targeted and prioritised.
  • Prioritising immediate actions needed to ensure the safety of tamariki where allegations of harm were raised.

Areas for Improvement

The measurement of harm for children in care work carried out within the Safety of Children in Care Unit, regional sites and across all Oranga Tamariki, enables a thorough understanding of how it responds to allegations of harm and ensures that areas for practice improvement can be targeted and prioritised.

Oranga Tamariki has detailed an action plan for continuous improvement.

  • Increased oversight of allegations against caregivers, including a particular focus on the timeliness for caregiver investigations.
  • Providing coaching and support to specific sites through its internal quality assurance processes.
  • Strengthening information and reporting for operational leaders, which will enable them to oversee and drive continuous improvement in practice at a local level. There is a particular focus on consistency of decision-making, communicating outcomes, accuracy of recording and timeliness.
  • Developing additional resources for frontline supervisors to support them to oversee and assure the quality of investigations and assessments for tamariki.
  • An increased engagement with frontline leaders to support them in their role in leading and championing best practice.
  • Developing guidance for frontline practitioners on communicating outcomes of investigations and assessments for tamariki.
  • Strengthening responses to return/remain home placements.

Tamariki Plans

Oranga Tamariki indicated that, from 1 July 2019, the requirement for Caregiver Support Plans and All About Me Plans provided social workers with a much stronger mechanism to explore the needs of tamariki and caregivers following an incident of harm. It continues to embed these tools and expects to see this area of practice improved.

The review conducted by the Safety of Children in Care Unit provides opportunities to understand how the needs of tamariki, rangatahi and their whānau were considered and responded to, and how Oranga Tamariki engaged with whānau when allegations of abuse were assessed.

The Monitor notes that the retrospective nature of monitoring means that the impact of the actions taken in response to the June 2020 report will not be realised within the timeframe of this report.

Recording and Reporting Consistency

Reduce the impact of harm

Part of the internal analysis of data by Oranga Tamariki found that there was a higher proportion of risk to tamariki and rangatahi who returned to or remained at home. To address this, Oranga Tamariki has introduced more support and resourcing for tamariki and rangatahi during transitions. This is a positive step that provides more support to family and whānau. 

Communication of outcomes to tamariki and rangatahi

As noted previously in the report, communication with tamariki and rangatahi is part of its continuous improvement activities.

Experience

As noted previously, Oranga Tamariki has committed to work with its frontline staff to improve levels of recording. A small number of Oranga Tamariki staff the Monitor met with indicated that the system does not support accurate recording and often aspects of an allegation of abuse or neglect are only recorded in the child’s plan or case notes on CYRAS [1]. Staff told the Monitor they feel that their first duty is to respond to the needs of tamariki and rangatahi. With high case numbers, it means that they can fall behind on administrative tasks, such as case-note recording. 

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[1] CYRAS – The national database used by Oranga Tamariki

Leadership, Relationships and Culture

The following information was requested from Oranga Tamariki.  

Provide information on any other initiatives that have been implemented to support better outcomes for tamariki and rangatahi in relation to regulation 69.

The Monitor conducted three site visits to hear how frontline staff are making improvements to the system. 

Experience

Leadership at sites and team culture play an important part in continuous improvement when working through an allegation of abuse and neglect.

During site visits, the Monitor noted that leadership across the sites was committed to improving practice as a team. Most staff noted that they felt supported and cared for. At one site, staff noted the positive role management played in embedding Oranga Tamariki values, and they felt this has greatly improved practice and the working environment. One staff member said, “it is so easy now to just walk over to another team and say, ‘can you give me an update on this te tamaiti.’”

Leadership teams said that they have built and strengthened relationships with community-based organisations, government agencies and, importantly, with hāpu and iwi.

At three sites, the Monitor heard that there is tension about the volume of policy and practice directions coming from National Office. Staff felt this was a constant issue and not just because of national emergencies and incidents. Staff felt that this information does not always go to the right person to implement, and policy and procedures seem to change often. This has meant that social workers are not sure if they are using current practice. Staff indicated that this was about all policies, including policy and practice for regulation 69.

At the sites the Monitor visited, they have a set time for training, although sometimes not all social workers can attend due to work demands and high needs of tamariki and rangatahi. All staff the Monitor met with felt that if this could be addressed, they would be able to improve their practice including better compliance with regulation 69.

Staff at the National Contact Centre indicated that they often felt the tension in managing call wait-times alongside undertaking good social work practice. When a challenging allegation about abuse or neglect is reported, staff utilise a peer support system alongside the normal supervision process. Through this process they seek their colleague’s advice and support on how to manage the allegation.

At the National Contact Centre, staff said that professional development and training has to fit around the work and is not always a priority due to high call volumes. One social worker stated, “peer-to-peer support can be a good tool to use but it also has its limitations as to who is available at the time and is dependent on the capability and capacity of staff.”

Staff at the National Contact Centre identified a gap that some staff, particularly those who work the nightshift or weekends, did not have access to the practice leads. The practice leads have addressed this by changing their working hours to cover some of the different shifts, so all staff have access to their knowledge base.

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