How do these policies, processes and practices facilitate compliance with the requirements of regulation 69?
The agencies’ policies, processes and practices facilitate compliance with the requirements of regulation 69.
Most policies pre-dated the National Care Standards and all agencies stated they completed a review and adjusted policies to align with the standards.
Future Focus: Once the NCS Regulations have agreed definitions, the Monitor will ask for each agency’s self-assessments against the definitions.
Open Home Foundation – The information provided by Open Home Foundation in the policies clearly guide staff on how to respond to an allegation. This agency has a system that alerts national office staff every time an allegation of abuse or neglect is recorded. Open Home Foundation advised it has adjusted its case management system to enable the production of three reports on abuse allegations. These reports cover whether the allegation is against a foster parent, natural parent (during contact), and any other person.
Dingwall Trust – Dingwall Trust informed the Monitor that its Incident Reporting Policy facilitates compliance with reporting of any allegations of abuse or neglect. Any incident raising concern or potential concern is overseen by the Residential Manager and a clear decision made regarding whether a report of concern is required to Oranga Tamariki. Information in the policies supports how to respond when an allegation is made.
Barnardos – Barnardos provided information stating that while no disclosures had been made in the period, if a disclosure had been made, “traceability between policy and practice would be evident on the young person’s case file, with relevant forms and tasks completed” 8. Barnardos also provided evidence that in April 2019 the Barnardos Foster Care team underwent a Ministry of Social Development National Accreditation audit which specifically addressed traceability between policies and processes and actual practice which supports the fact that policies facilitate compliance with the required practice.
While this is prior to the implementation of the NCS Regulations this information provides some assurance that Barnardos’ processes are such that there is evidence of practice reflecting policy.
Oranga Tamariki – The policies supplied by Oranga Tamariki cover responding to reports of concern and reviewing caregiver status as well as what is required to respond to a child in care. Oranga Tamariki stated that its Professional Practice Group completed an assessment of its policies against the regulations and found they were sufficiently aligned to articulate the regulation requirements.
The assessment confirmed that while policy and guidance is fit for purpose, improvement could be made, and a working group has been established to revise and update policy and practice. The Monitor requested this assessment and was advised that there was an assessment overseen by a Governance process, however no formal written report was produced. Oranga Tamariki provided commentary stating that the decision “not to develop new advice and guidance ahead of 1 July 2019 was based on a collective and considered analysis that existing, new or newly updated policy and guidance addressed the key regulatory requirements…”.
Future Focus: The work on the updated policies and tools by Oranga Tamariki was to be completed by October 2019 and will be provided to the Monitor in time for the June 2020 report.
One area that stood out for the Monitor was that there is no specific practice guidance on working differently with a child or young person in care who has made an allegation of abuse, rather than where the child or young person is not in the care or custody of Oranga Tamariki. For example, there is nothing specifically in its policies about different time frames or considering further visits or additional support during the time of an investigation into the allegation. While acknowledging that the child’s plan will be reviewed when there is an allegation, there does not appear to be commentary on whether this would consider any previous allegations, or any patterns or themes that may assist in assessing what is happening for the child.
Much of the information provided covered the reports generated by the SoCiC Unit, within Oranga Tamariki. “This unit is responsible for reviewing and reporting on non-accidental harm caused to children in care. The Unit reviews the findings of harm in line with the definitions used throughout their organisation to describe actions or inactions that cause harm and form the basis for a finding of harm for a child.” 9
Information provided by Oranga Tamariki states that “allegations therefore can either be identified during the course of current case work or be reported to Oranga Tamariki through another source. In either event a report of concern must be entered, and the usual investigation/assessment procedures will be followed.” 10
Oranga Tamariki provided information on its “ensure safety and wellbeing” practice standard that states a new report of concern for a child in care is required in the following circumstances:
- a social worker takes action each time they have become concerned about a risk of harm to te tamaiti (the child), at any point during their engagement with Oranga Tamariki
- a social worker to thoroughly assess any new allegation for te tamaiti currently involved with Oranga Tamariki, via a new report of concern.
What is unclear to the Monitor is what constitutes a report of concern of abuse or neglect of a child in care relating to situational circumstances. Questions have been raised by the Monitor and other agencies about what they are required to report to Oranga Tamariki. For example, is a teenager who gets into a fight with a friend while out, receiving physical injuries, a report of concern.
Future Focus: Oranga Tamariki to clarify what constitutes a report of concern of abuse or neglect of a child in care.
8 Reference Barnardos info request received 16 August 2019
9. Safety of Children in Care Quarter Three January – March 2019, Oranga Tamariki
10. Information response from Oranga Tamariki 18 October 2019