Caring for children and young people policy

What's Important To Us

We want all mokopuna to reach their potential. Wherever possible we need to support their family/whānau to care safely for them, and to support extended family/whānau to provide care when mokopuna are unable to live with their parents. This includes working in partnership with family/whānau, supporting their participation in decision-making, and the provision of safe and secure care of their mokopuna.

This policy brings together the key expectations when working with mokopuna where Child, Youth and Family has casework responsibility, under an open intervention phase (care and protection or youth justice). This includes all mokopuna involved with Child, Youth and Family via family/whānau agreements, care agreements, plans developed at a family group conference, and Court orders. Some sections apply only to mokopuna in the custody of the chief executive.

The plan for the mokopuna

Every mokopuna involved with Child, Youth and Family must have a plan which addresses their education, health, wellbeing, safety and care needs and includes: 

  • a permanent care goal and concurrent care goal 
  • planned objectives (changes that need to be achieved) and measures for these
  • specific tasks for all participants, including tasks identified as part of the Gateway assessment Interagency Services Agreement (ISA)
  • child-centred timeframes for achieving the changes
  • frequency of social work contact with the mokopuna and their family/whānau  
  • a review date
  • adequate financial planning that is discussed with the caregiver and mokopuna to ensure adequate support is provided to implement the plan.

The plan and any other relevant documents are to be provided to all involved parties, including the mokopuna and their caregiver.

For mokopuna in the custody of the chief executive, alongside the required formal review through the Family Court, informal reviews of the plan for the mokopuna using the Tuituia assessment framework must take place within three months of the mokopuna entering care, and every three months thereafter.

Charter for mokopuna in care

All mokopuna in the custody of the chief executive must:

  • have a copy of the Children's Charter 
  • be talked through the Charter and have their questions answered
  • if they are old enough, know how to access Child, Youth and Family's Complaints Resolution policy. 

The social worker for the mokopuna is responsible for completing these tasks.

Charter for children in care (under 12)

Charter for children and young people in care (12 and over)

Utilising care agreements instead of custody orders

If a mokopuna is unable to remain at home but the plan is for them to return after a period in care, consideration must first be given to using a care agreement (s139 or s140 under the Children, Young Persons, and Their Families Act 1989) rather than a custody order.

Visiting and engaging with mokopuna

All mokopuna in the custody of the chief executive or involved with Child, Youth and Family via a family/whanau agreement, plan developed at a family group conference, or Court order other than custody (e.g. support, services or additional guardianship order, or wardship) must be visited by a social worker at least every eight weeks.

The plan for the mokopuna may specify more frequent visiting based on the level of support and monitoring necessary.

All visits with mokopuna must be recorded in CYRAS, and each visit must involve efforts to engage with them on their own so they are able to speak freely about any worries they may have.

Click here for guidance on the importance of visiting with mokopuna and things to keep in mind, and here for information about responsibilities when a support order is made.


When a mokopuna is to move to a new placement, whether this is being placed away from their parents, between caregivers, residence, returning home, or caregivers formalising a permanent placement, child-centred arrangements must be put in place to allow for a smooth transition.

When moving between caregivers, this may include a period where the care is shared between the current and new caregivers. It is important that the social worker for the mokopuna allows an opportunity for them to say goodbye to the caregivers they are leaving.

Key information: Transitioning between placements

When mokopuna return home after a period in care

The following policy statements apply to mokopuna who have been in the custody of the chief executive for longer than 28 days, and includes mokopuna who are exiting from a Child, Youth and Family residence.

Assessment to support the return home decision

The decision to return a mokopuna home to a parent or parent figure who has previously cared for them must be based on a robust Tuituia assessment.

Return home meetings

At least two calendar weeks prior to a mokopuna returning home, the social worker must organise and facilitate a meeting (this could be a family group conference) involving the mokopuna (where appropriate), the parent or parent figure, other family/whānau, and key professionals who are working with the mokopuna and their parent or parent figure (e.g. the teacher for the mokopuna, medical professionals, NGO support workers, lawyer for the mokopuna, etc). The purpose of this meeting is to ensure that the services and supports needed will be in place both prior to and after the mokopuna has returned home.

Within four calendar weeks of the mokopuna returning home, the social worker must organise and faciliate a second meeting with all of the above people to discuss the placement's progress.

The social worker will use the child and family consult as a framework for the meetings.

Return home visits

When a mokopuna has returned home, the social worker must visit them at least once a week for the first four weeks of the placement. The frequency of visits will not be reduced until the post-return home meeting has been held. Each visit with the mokopuna must involve efforts to engage with them on their own so they are able to speak freely about any worries they may have. 

Case reviews 

Ongoing reviews of the plan for the mokopuna must occur within the three month cycle as outlined earlier in this policy and also in the Noho ake oranga policy. Meetings held to review the plan must include input from all professionals involved with the mokopuna and their family/whānau.

When mokopuna have returned home, the reviews will focus on ensuring that necessary supports are available to the mokopuna and their family/whānau so that custody orders against the chief executive do not remain in force longer than is necessary. 

Gateway assessments

Within 10 working days of entering care (under sections 78, 101, 102, 110(2)(a), 139 and 140), all mokopuna must be referred for a Gateway assessment.

A Gateway assessment referral must also be made prior to a care and protection family group conference being convened so that the completed assessment can be considered at the family group conference to help clarify and identify ways to address the health and education needs of the mokopuna. 

If there are any immediate concerns for the health of a mokopuna (regardless of their care status), an initial health check must be undertaken. 

Meeting health needs

All mokopuna in the custody of the chief executive must:

  • be referred for a Gateway assessment within 10 working days of entering care (as stated above)
  • receive an initial health check if there is immediate health concerns
  • receive routine medical and dental care at least annually or as required
  • receive specialist medical and dental care when this is required
  • receive specialist health (physical, mental, psychological) assessments if required
  • be given the opportunity to lodge a claim through ACC (where appropriate).

Meeting education needs

Liaison and information sharing with educational providers

Where a mokopuna is in the custody of the chief executive, the social worker must ensure that the early childhood education centre or school that the mokopuna attends holds relevant up-to-date information about them including:

  • the name and contact details of the social worker, the social worker's supervisor, and the current caregiver for the mokopuna
  • the legal status of the mokopuna, and who the order is in favour of (e.g. custody order in favour of the chief executive)
  • a list of people who can remove the mokopuna from the childhood centre or school or have contact with the mokopuna, and alerts to those who must not
  • details of bail conditions that prevent contact between mokopuna.

The social worker must liaise with the school or early childhood education centre to promote and advocate for the educational meeds of the mokopuna. This includes discussing and requesting the Gateway assessment educational profile from the teacher as this will assist the planning for the mokopuna. 

Early childhood education

All mokopuna from the age of 18 months until they go to school who are in the custody of the chief executive must be enrolled in up to 20 hours of quality early childhood education per week.

The exception to this is if there are situations when an assessment of the mokopuna indicates that early childhood education is not appropriate due to their needs or vulnerabilities. The site manager's approval is required for these exceptions and the decision must be supported in writing by a health professional or social worker reviewed regularly. A case note is required to identify the reason for the mokopuna not being enrolled in early childhood education and the plan around this.

There may be occasions where quality early childhood education is not immediately available in the caregiver’s community. In these circumstances the social worker must support the caregiver to find an appropriate early childhood education service, drawing on the support of local Ministry of Education staff where needed.

Consent for early childhood education enrolment

The decision to enrol a mokopuna in early childhood education rests with the guardian/s. As custodian, the chief executive must obtain the agreement of each guardian to enable enrolment in early childhood education. If reasonable efforts have been made to locate a guardian and it has not been possible to locate them, the mokopuna can be enrolled on the basis of the consent it is acceptable to enrol the child in early childhood education on the basis of the consent of the guardian/s who were able to be located. Good case noting is required to identify what steps were taken to locate an absentee guardian before the decision to proceed with enrolment was made.

If a guardian does not consent and the reasons for that refusal do not appear to be in the interests of the mokopuna, the social worker must give thought to whether it is appropriate for the chief executive to apply to be appointed as an additional guardian. In cases where the chief executive is an additional guardian, the social worker must bring the question of early childhood education, and the failure to reach agreement about that, to the notice of the Family Court via a section 115 application to determine a dispute between guardians. 

Where the chief executive is a sole guardian, consent to early childhood education can be given by the chief executive. Contact must still be made with the parents/guardians as per section 8 of the Children, Young Persons, and Their Families Act 1989 to inform about decisions that significantly affect the mokopuna. 

Early childhood education for mokopuna with an open intervention

Child, Youth and Family must encourage enrolment and attendance in early childhood education for all mokopuna over the age of 18 months who are involved with the service. 

Click here for information for caregivers about early childhood education funding.

Clothing, birthday and Christmas allowance and pocket money

Clothing allowance

All mokopuna in the custody of the chief executive must have their reasonable clothing needs met including the provision of school uniforms.

All mokopuna  who are in a placement that is intended to be ongoing are entitled to receive a four-weekly clothing allowance payment, payable to the caregiver.

Click here for more information about the clothing allowance and here for current clothing rates.

Birthday and Christmas allowance

An allowance is paid to the caregiver to use for birthday and Christmas celebrations/presents for the mokopuna. Each allowance is at half the rate of the board payment.

Pocket money

Pocket money is a portion of the board payment and must be paid to all mokopuna in the custody of the chief executive by the caregiver.


If a mokopuna is in the custody of the chief executive, they must be placed with an approved caregiver. All efforts must first be made to identify a safe and appropriate placement with family/whānau.

Caregivers provide the day-to-day care of the mokopuna and are entitled to a board payment for this care. This also includes placements overseas.

Siblings must be placed together where possible and/or practicable unless there are safety concerns that require addressing.

Click here for the recording requirements for mokopuna in care.

"All about me" care information to support the placement

When mokopuna in the custody of the chief executive are placed with a caregiver or in a residence, information recorded in the template "All about me: Information to help you care for me" must be provided. The caregiver must be advised that the information is confidential and can only be shared with those who need to know the information.

Mokopuna must be involved in the development, and receive a copy, of their "All about me" care information and, where appropriate, their family/whānau must also be involved.

This care information must be provided to the caregiver or residence on or before the day of the placement. The only exception to this is if a placement is made over a weekend. In these situations, basic information which includes any physical or mental health needs, behavioural issues and suicide risk must be provided at the time of the placement (either using the template or in another format), and the full "All about me: Information to help you care for me" must be provided on the next working day.

See here for more about supporting placements. 

Safe sleep environment

All mokopuna under two years of age who are in the custody of the chief executive and living away from home, including those placed with providers, must sleep in age-appropriate safe sleep equipment at all times.

The social worker placing the mokopuna must ensure that the caregiver has age-appropriate safe sleep equipment for the mokopuna at the time of placement, and also for times when the caregiver and mokopuna are staying away from their home. In cases when the caregiver does not have age-appropriate safe sleep equipment, Child, Youth and Family must support them to provide this.

All mokopuna in the custody of the chief executive must not share a sleep surface when any adult or other mokopuna at any time.

The assessment of prospective Child, Youth and Family caregivers seeking to care for mokopuna under two years of age will include SUDI prevention information, equipment checks and an assessment of the caregiver’s understanding of safe sleeping, which will be documented in the caregiver assessment report.

The review of caregivers approved to provide care for mokopuna under two years of age must include a review of SUDI prevention information and equipment checks and an update of the caregiver’s understanding of safe sleeping, which will be documented in the caregiver review report.

Smoke free environment

All mokopuna in the custody of the chief executive and living away from home, including those placed with providers, must be provided with a smoke free environment at all times, which means:

  • no smoking in the presence of the mokopuna
  • a smoke free home
  • a smoke free car.

The assessment of prospective Child, Youth and Family caregivers must include an assessment of the willingness and capacity of the caregivers to provide a smoke free environment, which will be documented in the caregiver assessment report.

Child, Youth and Family’s reviews of its caregivers will include a review of the willingness and capacity of the caregivers to provide a smoke free environment, which will be documented in the caregiver review report.

When a prospective family/whānau caregiver is unwilling or unable to provide a smoke free environment, professional judgement must be used to assess the best interests of the infant alongside the family/whānau caregiver’s smoking practice. The analysis and rationale for any exception to the provision of a smoke free environment will be detailed in the caregiver assessment report and the delegation for caregiver approval will rest with a supervisor.

Car restraints

All mokopuna under seven years of age must be secured in an approved child restraint appropriate for their age and size for every ride. Mokopuna aged seven years and older must be secured in an approved child restraint or seat belt if one is available. 

For more information about child restraints for mokopuna, see the NZTA's child restraints save lives brochure.

Use of cameras for monitoring purposes

The installation of cameras in an approved placement is not allowed. Placement in this context has the meaning given it under section 362 of the Children, Young Persons and Their Families Act 1989.  For the avoidance of doubt, this policy statement is intended to cover placements with the chief executive and with providers approved under section 396. 

There may be exceptional circumstances where the use of cameras is a necessary method of ensuring the safety of a mokopuna, and the required level of supervision can not be managed through other means. In those cases, where the installation and use of cameras for monitoring purposes is considered necessary and in the best interests of the mokopuna, prior approval must be given by the General Manager Operations.

Approval must not be given for equipment that stores or holds images. 

Requests for approval need to cover the following:

  1. How the use of the camera is in the best interests of the mokopuna.
  2. The view of the mokopuna about the use of a camera.
  3. The parents/guardians’ views about the use of a camera.
  4. If appointed, the Counsel for Child or Youth Advocate’s view about the use of a camera.
  5. The purpose and outcomes sought and how these outcomes will be evaluated.
  6. The type of equipment to be used and where cameras will be positioned.
  7. How the camera will be used, including whether it will be on when there are visitors in the home.
  8. The name/s of persons who will use the cameras and relevant background information about that person/s.
  9. How those living in and visiting the home will be made aware of the cameras.
  10. How the use of the camera will be monitored.
  11. Confirmation that the named individual/s in the approval application is aware of the proposed terms of use and the importance of respecting the privacy of the mokopuna. 

Standard payment and set-up grant

Standard payment

In addition to the board payment, all Child, Youth and Family caregivers (including family home caregivers) must be paid a standard payment of $20.00 per fortnight per mokopuna in their care to cover small cost items (e.g. prescription charges, additional school stationery, a school outing, a birthday present for a friend, something special to celebrate a particular achievement, a regular cellphone top up, a hobby, a gold coin donation/koha, etc).

Set-up grant

Child, Youth and Family caregivers (excluding caregivers for Family Homes and permanent caregivers for under two year olds) at the time of their very first placement will be eligible for a $350.00 set-up grant to ensure they have the right equipment to meet the needs of the mokopuna they will care for.

Mokopuna-related travel

When travel costs for mokopuna in care exceed 40km per week per mokopuna, extra support with travel must be provided to the caregivers (including Family Home caregivers).

In those situations, travel exceeding 40km per week must be reimbursed to the caregiver at the rate of 77 cents per km (IRD maximum tax free rate), or at a rate not exceeding the daily costs of a rental car of $42.00 plus fuel. Prior approval by the site manager is required for all additional financial support for monkopuna-related travel.

Where the caregiver is transporting more than one mokopuna in care, the reimbursement is for the amount of travel over the combined number of km funded within the foster care allowance for each mokopuna. this means that if there are three mokopuna in a placement, and each is funded up to 40km per week for mokopuna-related travel, their combined travel for the week must exceed 120km per week before the caregiver is eligible to make a claim for reimbursement.

Reimbursement for travel does not occur post-permanent placement.

Family Home caregivers must keep a travel log for each mokopuna in their care, given that there can be mokopuna placed in family homes from across the operational area and there may be multiple offices involved.

If Family Home caregivers are supplied with a Child, Youth and Family vehicle and fuel card, they are not eligible for the travel allowance or any additional financial support for transporting mokopuna.

Legal status when placing in a Child, Youth and Family residence

A legal status under s78, s101, s110(2), s235, s238(1)(d) or s311 is the only status accepted by Child, Youth and Family to enable placement in a s364 residence.

Approval of multiple placements

When considering placing more than one unrelated mokopuna with a caregiver(s), the placement must be approved by a supervisor in consultation with the social worker for the mokopuna.

When considering placing three or more unrelated mokopuna with a caregiver(s), including family home caregivers, Operations Manager approval must be given before the placement is made. This number is exclusive of the caregiver's own mokopuna.

There must never be more than six mokopuna placed in a Family Home at any time.

Informal placements

When mokopuna are placed informally (without a custody status) by their parents or usual caregiver, the social worker must assist the family/whānau to ensure the people providing care are financially supported, through either Work and Income, Child, Youth and Family, or other support agencies, to meet the reasonable needs of the mokopuna (e.g. grocery vouchers, petrol costs, emergency clothing, etc).

Key information: Identifying safe care solutions when children and young people can't stay at home.

Contact with family/whānau and other significant people

All mokopuna who are placed away from their parents (or usual caregivers) must have written, in their plan, details about contact with family/whānau, siblings, and other significant people that will meet the needs and requirements of the particular mokopuna.

Decisions around contact must consider the history for the mokopuna and the people whom the mokopuna feels close to, bearing in mind that the nature of relationships can change over time.

Updated 24 February 2017