Report Release: Returning Home From Care
Today we released our first in-depth review, Returning Home from Care, which found that safeguards and support for tamariki (children) and rangatahi (young people) who either remain in, or return to, the care of their parents while in State custody are not always there, despite this group being at higher risk of harm than others in care.
When tamariki or rangatahi are taken out of the care of their parents the goal is to return them home, but this must be when it is assessed as safe, and the home environment can meet their needs. We heard that for many tamariki, rangatahi and whānau, the supports and services are not in place.
Successive Oranga Tamariki Safety of Children in Care reports have found that tamariki and rangatahi in return or remain home arrangements are at higher risk of harm than those in other types of care.
Findings from our Returning Home from Care report include:
Planning is important to the success of a return home, however almost half were unplanned.
Policy at the time of our review recommended that tamariki returned home are visited weekly for the first four weeks, however only 19 percent of children who returned home were visited weekly. Unplanned returns home were visited less frequently in the first four weeks than planned returns (75 percent of planned returns received at least one visit in the first four weeks, compared to 63 percent for unplanned).
Communication, collaboration, funding, and inconsistent policies were barriers to successfully supporting tamariki and rangatahi returning home.
There is limited data on the success of a return or remain home, this reduces opportunities for Oranga Tamariki to understand what is working well and what needs to improve.
Oranga Tamariki social workers do not have clear guidance on when custody orders are removed, or when less coercive powers are preferred. This lack of guidance is reflected in regional variations in the duration that orders remain in place.
You can read our report and media release on our website here:
We’ve also published the response from Oranga Tamariki to our report on our website: https://aroturuki.govt.nz/reports/agency-responses/
We’re pleased that some of our findings have been accepted, and hope this leads to clearer policies and processes.
Crucially, there must be assurance that tamariki and rangatahi who remain or are returned home into the care of their parents are safe and receiving the support they need. We hope that our questions about the success, or otherwise, of returns home will lead to greater oversight of what is working, and what isn’t, by Oranga Tamariki. This is how they can learn and improve.
For this review we drew on the voices of experience from our Experiences of Care in Aotearoa report and carried out additional community visits in 2022.
Returning Home From Care is the first in a series of reviews we will be doing on an area of focus in the oranga tamariki system. We have the next two reviews underway:
A review of access to primary health services and dental care for children in care. Monitoring visits for this are underway now and we expect to publish the report in early 2024.
A review of the implementation of the recommendations from Dame Karen Poutasi’s review of the Children’s System Response to Abuse. Monitoring visits for this will take place in early 2024, 12 months after her report was released. Our report will be published in mid-2024.