Towards Independence policy

What's Important To Us

Mokopuna who leave our care need our support to achieve the same positive outcomes as other young adults. Typically, mokopuna moving from care to independence do not have access to the social and family support networks that are in place for other young adults. When mokopuna leave care, we must have assisted them to acquire the knowledge, skills, resources and supports necessary to successfully manage the transition into adulthood.

This policy brings together key expectations when working with mokopuna aged between 15 and 17 years who are in the custody of the chief executive or aged between 15 and 20 years who have left care and return seeking advice and assistance.

Planning the transition towards independence

All plans for mokopuna in care aged between 15 and 17 must be discussed and confirmed via a family group conference (FGC) at least once annually. For those with court orders, this will need to occur prior to filing the court plan.

Plans must:

  • include a focus on their transition from care to independence
  • be based on an assessment of their needs, strengths and aspirations
  • focus on achieving positive outcomes: mokopuna need to belong, achieve, participate, be healthy and be safe.

Mokopuna must be actively involved in the planning process and have their voices heard throughout.

We must convene an FGC between three to six months prior to mokopuna leaving care. This FGC will confirm a final plan for their transition from care.

The plan must identify:

  • where the mokopuna will be living
  • what form of education, employment or training they will be participating in
  • how they will financially support themselves (through employment or financial assistance)
  • who their support network includes, how much contact they will have with their social worker after they leave care, and how they will access further support if needed.

It may not always be possible to convene the family group conference as intended (eg where the mokopuna is unwilling to participate in planning discussions, is significantly transient, or is in care for a short period of time). Where an FGC is not held as required, it must be clearly recorded what effort has been made to meet the requirement to convene an FGC.

We must explore all avenues of support available to the mokopuna and connect them to existing services before they leave care. If the mokopuna is going to be receiving financial assistance from Work and Income, we must work with them to ensure the mokopuna receives all of their financial entitlements (or is enrolled with Youth Service if they are not engaging in education, employment or training).

Supporting mokopuna leaving care to continue in secondary school

If a mokopuna turns 17 before the end of the school year, we must support them to continue at school so that their studies are not disrupted.

If they are continuing to live with a caregiver, we will pay the equivalent of board (including clothing, birthday and Christmas allowances) until the mokopuna finishes Year 13. The only exception will be when the mokopuna and their carer express a preference for another form of financial support (eg Youth Payment). We will discuss and agree with the mokopuna and their carer who will receive the payments (it is preferable for at least some of the payment to be paid to the mokopuna to encourage financial literacy).

Approved independent living arrangements

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. That caregiver must be assessed and approved in accordance with the Caregiver Assessment and Approval Policy.

Where we cannot identify a traditional adult/mokopuna care arrangement for a mokopuna in custody (that they will agree to remain in), and the mokopuna expresses an intention to live independently, we may take a pragmatic approach and consider supporting the independent living arrangement.

Assessment and Approval

We will only support mokopuna in custody transitioning to an independent living arrangement where:

  • the mokopuna is 16
  • the mokopuna wishes to live independently
  • the mokopuna has adequate practical/life skills
  • the mokopuna is meaningfully engaged during the day
  • we make a positive assessment of the safety, suitability and sustainability of the planned living arrangement and the support network available to the mokopuna– refer to Key Information: Assessing independent living arrangements
  • we develop a safety plan with the mokopuna

The living arrangement must be approved by the Site Manager.

Financial support

We must financially support approved independent living arrangements for mokopuna still in the custody of the chief executive. Wherever possible, we must provide any financial assistance directly to mokopuna.

Supporting mokopuna

You must visit the mokopuna each week for the first four weeks of their independent living arrangement, to check they are safe and they have the support they need. After that, you must visit at least every eight weeks while they remain in custody, or more often (as agreed in their plan). It is important to have regular contact (eg via text message) between visits.

Planning for the transition to independence, and active support and monitoring, must still continue until the mokopuna turns 17 years old.

Financial assistance to purchase items necessary to live independently

If a mokopuna is leaving care at 17, we must provide financial assistance to enable them to purchase the essential items they need to live independently. Have discussions with the mokopuna about which items they need as part of encouraging financial literacy (eg how to purchase good quality, reasonably priced goods). Assist the mokopuna to access these funds before they leave care. Any unspent funds will remain available until the mokopuna reaches the age of 20.

We must provide at least $1500 for this purpose. Any financial assistance above this is discretionary and will be based upon the needs of the mokopuna.

Items purchased may include:

  • furniture (eg a bed, a set of drawers)
  • flat items (eg pots and pans, kitchen appliances)
  • bedding and towels
  • toiletries/cleaning supplies.

This financial support is not available to mokopuna who are receiving a similar financial support from another source (eg a Transition from Care to Independence grant).

Official documentation

Every mokopuna leaving care (aged over 15) must have:

  • a type of photographic identification that will enable them to access financial supports. They must have at least one of the following:
    • a current passport
    • a driver’s licence (learner or above).
  • an original copy of their birth certificate
  • their Inland Revenue number
  • a bank account.

Some mokopuna will not be in a position to safely store this documentation. It may be appropriate for a member of their support network to retain the documentation on behalf of the mokopuna. If this is not possible, keep it safely at the office.

Providing advice and assistance to mokopuna who have left care

We must provide advice and non-financial assistance to mokopuna who have left care and to whom s386 CYP&F Act applies if they request it.

This applies to mokopuna if they:

  1. are 15 years or over, but under 20 years
  2. have been in the care or custody of the chief executive, an iwi social service, a cultural social service, or the director of a child and family support service under sections 139, 140, 141, 78, 101 (including 102), or 110(2)(a)
  3. have been in care or custody under one, or a combination of, these agreements or orders for a continuous period of at least 3 months after they were 14 years and 9 months old.

If mokopuna aged between 15 and 17 return to us for advice and assistance, we must first decide whether there are care or protection concerns that need to be addressed. If there are care or protection concerns, we must follow the usual processes, including creating a report of concern in CYRAS.

Who can request advice and assistance?

Mokopuna can request assistance themselves, or a person or agency can approach us and request assistance on behalf of a mokopuna.

Mokopuna must consent before we release any of their personal information to another person or agency. Our usual policies for sharing information apply; see Sharing and use of information policy. Seek legal advice if you are unsure whether we can release information.

Where mokopuna have been in the care of an approved care provider (an iwi social service, a cultural social service or a child and family support service), they can return to that service for advice and assistance, or they can return to us.

Responding to requests from mokopuna for advice and assistance

The amount of advice and assistance a mokopuna requires will vary from case to case. We must explore all avenues of support available to mokopuna when they return for assistance, check what the plan was for them when they left care, and which services were involved.

If a mokopuna is experiencing problems accessing services, we must act as an advocate, or help them identify someone who could advocate on their behalf (eg Youth Service provider), to assist them to resolve any issues.

We may provide mokopuna with financial assistance when all other options have been explored. Where financial assistance is provided, it must be provided to the mokopuna or the person who is caring for them, unless the mokopuna agrees that the payment can be made directly to another person or party (eg a service provider) or it has been determined that the mokopuna is unable to manage that financial assistance themselves (eg a mokopuna with a significant intellectual disability).

If we are providing financial assistance to support a mokopuna in a course of education or training, we may continue to do so even if they turn 20 before completing the course.

Sometimes, a mokopuna may contact us after-hours seeking assistance. Our response will be based on an assessment of the nature and urgency of their presenting need(s). Support can be provided by contacting the appropriate emergency service (where one exists), eg adult mental health services or the Police, and advocating on behalf of mokopuna.

Updated 1 July 2016