Question One

What are the Agency’s policies, processes and practices for responding to information disclosures relating to a risk of harm caused by abuse and neglect of a child or young person in care or custody?

The agencies have policies, processes and practices for responding to information disclosures relating to a risk of harm caused by abuse and neglect of a child or young person in care or custody.

Each agency provided comprehensive information on their current policies, processes and practices. Provisions are found in several different policies both generic such as a Child Protection Policy and more specific ones, such as Dingwall Trust’s Prevention of Child and Young Person Abuse Policy.

The policies, processes and practices appear to be mostly focused on allegations of abuse or neglect by a caregiver. While there is a duty of care to ensure the safety of any child for whom there is a report of concern, there does not appear to be any extra requirements to support a child in care when the alleged perpetrator is a third party (i.e. not a caregiver). It is acknowledged that if the person causing the harm is the caregiver then there are extra steps to take regarding whether the caregiver is still able to care for the child or young person. However, if the alleged perpetrator is not the caregiver, the process does not appear to include any considerations of what to do differently, if anything, in these cases.

When the allegation is regarding a caregiver the policies are clear and provide guidance on how to proceed in a timely way.

Open Home Foundation – Open Home Foundation provided copies of its three relevant policies. It also stated that its organisation encourages children and whānau to talk about concerns in several ways, for example they are advised they can talk to any member of staff and can use text, email, phone or via their website. Open Home Foundation stated in its information return to the Monitor that it is also using an App called the “Better Off Tool” which asks children and young people and their whānau about their experiences with the organisation.

Dingwall Trust – The Monitor was informed that the primary guidance for staff at Dingwall Trust is the Prevention of Child and Young Person Abuse Policy. Dingwall Trust practice does not differentiate between children in their custody and those in its care through shared care arrangements.

Barnardos – Barnardos’ information return stated that it has several policies and processes that guide their practice in this area. All of them were provided.

Oranga Tamariki – The largest care agency provided the Monitor with multiple documents and links to its current practice guidance. Oranga Tamariki reported uploading 101 unique pages to their practice centre and that over half of the content is to support provisions specifically relating to the National Care Standards. Oranga Tamariki stated that in these new pages significant attention was paid to:

  • embedding the principles of mana tamaiti, whakapapa and whanaungatanga
  • applying an expanded view of wellbeing as described in section 5 of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989
  • supporting the voice and participation of tamariki in decisions affecting them, and
  • working together as an integrated suite of guidance and policy.

Oranga Tamariki also provided, specifically in relation to their practice when responding to information disclosures relating to a risk of harm caused by abuse of neglect of a child or young person in care, documents covering:

  • the definitions of abuse and neglect
  • the definitions of abuse and neglect
  • practice standards regarding ensuring safety and wellbeing where there is serious harm
  • child and family assessments and investigations
  • safety and risk screen
  • the decision response tool that determines how to respond to a report of concern
  • the caregiver allegation policy.

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