Agency Compliance with Regulations 69 and 85 of the Oranga Tamariki (National Care Standards and Related Matters) Regulations
Agencies who have the Care and Custody of Tamariki and Rangatahi
There are currently four agencies in New Zealand that have the care and custody of children. The main agency is the government agency, Oranga Tamariki who have the majority of children in their custody, that is 6467 as at 30 September 2019 7, inclusive of care and protection and youth justice. Children are placed with caregivers who may or may not be related to them, some through non-government organisation (NGO) contracted agencies who have shared care responsibilities with Oranga Tamariki. Some may be in group homes or residential care where they are supported by staff and some may be moving to a more independent type of living arrangement, while being supported by their respective agency.
The legislative mandate to provide for such arrangements with other agencies is the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989. Section 396 (approval of iwi social services, cultural social services and child and family support services) enables the approval of agencies to undertake certain duties and responsibilities under the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989. This includes the ability for agencies other than Oranga Tamariki to hold the legal care and custody of children and young people deemed in need of care and protection. There are three agencies who hold legal custody in their own right, Barnardos, Open Home Foundation and Dingwall Trust. As at 30 September 2019 these agencies had the following numbers of children in their custody.
Children and young people in custody
- Open Home Foundation - 133
- Dingwall Trust - 2
- Barnardos - 3
- Oranga Tamariki - 6467
Numbers of Children in the Custody of Provider Agencies and Oranga Tamariki as at 30 September 2019.
7. The total number of children in custody for care and protection reasons is 6302 and those in custody under Youth Justice is 165
Legislative Mandate of the Independent Children’s Monitor
As part of the new obligations under the NCS Regulations, there is a requirement for those agencies who have the custody and care of children and young people to comply with all the NCS Regulations.
Section 447A of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 provides for the responsible Minister to appoint an Independent Children’s Monitor. The Ministry of Social Development has been appointed as the Independent Children’s Monitor by the Minister for Children. It has been delegated with the accountability and responsibility to provide assurance to the Minister for Children that those tamariki and rangatahi in the care and custody of the state are being cared for as per the regulations and that their outcomes are being achieved.
Below is a diagram showing the timeline of decisions around establishing the new Monitor within the context of the wider strengthening of the independent oversight of the Oranga Tamariki system.
The decision to phase the Monitor’s functional oversight of the system was deliberate to ensure the function is set up adequately to fulfil its purpose. The second timeline below shows the phases of monitoring and when they come into effect.
Other Oversight of the Oranga Tamariki System
The Monitor is a new function and one that has not existed in this form prior to 1 July 2019. The Office of the Children’s Commissioner (OCC) currently has accountability for general monitoring of the policies and practices of monitoring Oranga Tamariki under s13 of the children’s Commissioner Act 2003 as well as accountability for system advocacy. The Ombudsman also has the power to investigate complaints for individual children, as well as broader investigations. Both agencies have roles under the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT) with OCC’s focus on visits to and monitoring of places where children and young people are detained (i.e. care and protection and youth justice residences).
Providers funded and approved by Oranga Tamariki are subject to contractual monitoring (contract compliance), as well as Accreditation Assessments. The Ministry of Social Development’s Social Service Accreditation team has been delegated by Oranga Tamariki to carry out independent reviews of providers under sections 396 and 403 of the Oranga
Tamariki Act 1989. They assess against the Social Sector Accreditation Standards, to determine a provider’s capability to deliver safe, quality services to New Zealanders.
While there are a number of organisations that play a role across the three oversight functions – advocacy, monitoring, complaints and investigations – there are gaps that a newly created Monitor will fulfil. These can be summarised as:
Below are diagrams that show current and future oversight of the Oranga Tamariki system – specifically focussed on monitoring functions.
The focus for a strengthened oversight system, particularly for independent monitoring is to:
- Reduce duplication and overlaps of functions as far as possible
- Create cohesion and comprehensiveness in the system
- Strengthen independent monitoring of the Oranga Tamariki system – across the system spectrum from compliance, through to service delivery performance and practice quality through to outcomes for tamariki
- Support continuous improvement
- Demonstrate independence, accountability and transparency
- Partner with Māori.