How well do the Agency’s responses to information disclosures referred to in regulation 69(1) comply with regulation 69(2), i.e., are the information disclosures responded to and do the responses meet the requirements of regulation 69(2)?
Oranga Tamariki is partially compliant with the requirements of regulation 69 and Open Home Foundation is compliant. Barnardos and Dingwall Trust had no disclosures during the period.
When answering this question, the Monitor has interpreted the regulation as being a dual responsibility between the NGO agencies and Oranga Tamariki. Oranga Tamariki is responsible for completing the statutory investigation under s17 of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 12. The NGO who has custody of the child or young person is responsible for reporting the disclosure to Oranga Tamariki and ensuring the immediate safety of the child. It is also responsible for supporting the child or young person throughout the investigation and at the end of the process.
Neither Barnardos nor Dingwall Trust had any disclosures for the period and therefore compliance with the regulation is not relevant to this question.
Open Home Foundation – For the period, 1 July to 30 September 2019, Open Home Foundation provided information on three disclosures in relation to a risk of harm caused by abuse or neglect of a child or young person in its custody. Due to the small number of children involved in these disclosures the detail has not been provided.
From the information provided, and the aspects of the regulation within its control, there has been compliance with the regulation. It is apparent from the information provided that there have been extra supports put in place for the children and young people as well as more contact with their social workers. The information also indicates that extra contact and supports are in place for the other parties involved in the allegations.
The three disclosures from children or young people in the care of Open Home Foundation all had a finding of not found, meaning the children or young people did not have a finding of harm, as defined by Oranga Tamariki.
Oranga Tamariki – The SoCiC Unit within Oranga Tamariki has provided the majority of information required to assess regulations 69 and 85. The SoCiC Unit reviews the data quarterly and the data for the first quarter of this year has been summarised into general findings for children and young people in care with a reported incident of harm. This data is required to be provided to the Monitor under the NCS Regulations.
For the period, 1 July to 30 September 2019, Oranga Tamariki provided information on 335 disclosures in relation to a risk of harm caused by abuse or neglect of a child or young person in their custody where a Child and Family assessment (CFA) or investigation was recorded. Oranga Tamariki reported to the Monitor that it “receives reports of abuse and neglect for children in care and not all of them may be genuine reports of concern, for example a sibling might be added to a report of concern but they do not live in the same circumstances as another sibling or the care order was made at the same time as a report of concern was received and therefore the child was not in the care at the time of the concern arising.”
This means that the number of reports to the agency will differ from those reported on by the SoCiC Unit, due to the requirement to ensure the cases of genuine abuse of children in care are reviewed by the Unit and where children are not harmed this is accurately reflected in their record.
Future Focus: The Monitor will be seeking information on those reports of concern that are entered on the case management system, that are genuine reports of alleged abuse and do not have a finding.
Oranga Tamariki is partially compliant with the two regulations. The detail of its compliance is outlined in the graphs and narrative below 13.
For the period of 1 July to 30 September 2019 the following table provides an overview of the number of children and young people reported by Oranga Tamariki to have had an incident of harm shown with the total number of findings of harm reported. These numbers are not equal as some children and young people had more than one finding of harm.
Oranga Tamariki intends to report on the flow of information over the course of a year in their annual report, due to be published in December 2019. Figures taken for quarterly reporting reflect a point in time and are subject to change throughout the year for various reasons such as a reclassification in abuse type due to more information coming to light. Numbers will also differ across the quarters as reports of concern may be reported in one quarter and the finding or outcomes occur in the next quarter.
Figures in table Two and table Three exclude incidents where there was a finding of “not found” or “behavioural/relationship difficulty”. These findings are:
The SoCiC Unit within Oranga Tamariki does not publicly report on findings of “not found” or “relationship/behavioural difficulties” as they are not considered to be reports of harm. These findings are however included in Oranga Tamariki reporting of abuse of children in care incidents (AOCIC) which total 335 and are used by the Monitor for analysis of compliance further in the report (tables Seven, Eight, and Nine).
Overview of Compliance with Regulation 69 (2)
The following graphs and narrative demonstrate the level of compliance with each component of Regulation 69 (2). The first graph is a general overview of compliance with Regulation 69 (2) (a) and (b).
Section 69(2)(a) requires that the response to an allegation of abuse or neglect in care or custody must be prompt.
Oranga Tamariki carry out a safety screen within defined timeframes specified in its operational policies when a report of concern is received by a site. The purpose is to review the safety of a child at that point in time and to determine what next steps or actions are required. Reported data shows that in 88% of the incidents the timeframe for completing a safety screen was adhered to.
Child and Family Assessments (C&FA) and Investigations (including those referred to Police under the Child Protection Protocol (CPP)) are carried out after a safety screen has been completed. Oranga Tamariki has defined timeframes for the completion of these processes.
C&FA/CPP investigation timeframes are split into three categories:
- 20 days to complete an investigation or C&FA where the allegation relates to an approved caregiver
- 36 days to complete an investigation or C&FA where the allegation relates to children under the age of five years
- 43 days to complete an investigation or C&FA where the allegation relates to children or young people over the age of five years.
Section 69(2)(b) requires the information about the allegation to be recorded and reported in a consistent manner. Findings were reported for two areas:
- 16% of records checked had incorrect findings recorded
- 52% of records checked had missing or insufficient information.
Section 69(2)(c), (that indicates where appropriate a child or young person is informed of the outcome) and 69(2)(d) (where appropriate steps are taken with the parties to the allegation, including a review of the caregiver’s plan), have been reported on in the following tables. The average percentage of people who were informed of the outcome was 45% with 39% each of children and parents/guardians being informed. Oranga Tamariki advised that the formal recording of this information is an area for development.
Number of people who have been informed of the outcome:
Section 69(2)(d) requires the Chief Executive to ensure appropriate steps are taken with the parties to the allegation, including a review of the caregiver’s plan. The figures provided count a child or young person each time there is a separate report of concern within the reporting period (i.e. there may be more than one report within the period). For this reason, the numbers do not add up to the total number of children or young people in care with findings of harm, of which there were 108 in the period.
One of the appropriate steps that may be taken in these cases is the need for the child or young person to leave their current care placement. For this period, in 15% of cases children and young people with a finding of abuse or neglect were moved from their placement.
In 85% of cases Oranga Tamariki reported that children and young people were assessed as safe to remain in their placement.
Children and young people had supports put in place 71% of the time following a finding of abuse or neglect. In some situations, additional support is not necessarily required.
Regarding the requirement to review the child or young person’s plan in 73% of cases the plan was reviewed following an incident.
In 62% of cases a caregiver’s plan was reviewed. In some cases, this was not a requirement as the caregiver was no longer providing care or children were placed in other care arrangements.
Future Focus: Case validation and analysis of raw data will be required to further understand compliance with the NCS Regulations for the next report.
12. S.17 of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 provides the authority to investigate a report of ill-treatment or neglect of a child or young person.
13 All data in this report was provided by Oranga Tamariki (and other agencies as relevant) – Information Request responses provided October/November 2019.
14 N/A refers to an incident where somebody was not informed of the outcome, but an appropriate rationale was recorded.