Working with children and young people in residences policy

What's Important To Us

There will be times when children and young people require a more structured living environment than what their own family can give them. Residential placements can help children and young people realise their full potential by providing individual and group programmes focused on change and growth, intensive clinical services, specialised education services, cultural engagement, physical activities, clear boundaries and support. Although they tend to be short in duration, residential placements offer children and young people an intensive, therapeutic response which ultimately seeks to get them back on track with their lives.

This policy outlines the key practice requirements for residential staff in the three phases of our work: 

Engagement, assessment and planning

Admission

On entering a residence, the child or young person's residential case leader must ensure the child or young person:

  • completes the residence's induction/orientation programme; this includes being advised about the use of secure care
  • is provided a copy of the 'Charter for children and young people in care' (under 12 and over 12), and given an opportunity to ask any questions they may have about their rights
  • undergoes a medical checkup within seven days of their admission
  • is screened to identify any risk factors and/or urgent needs. 

On the day of admission, staff must create an Operational Plan for the child or young person that will be available to all staff as and when needed. The residential assessment triangle must be used to assess where in the residence would be most suitable to place the child or young person.

Within seven days of admission, the residential case leader must develop an Individual Care Plan in respect of the child or young person which:

  • specifies the objectives for the child or young person while in the residence
  • details the services/assistance/programmes to be provided to the child or young person
  • states the responsibilities and personal objectives of the child or young person
  • details contact arrangements for the child or young person with family/whānau
  • details other matters relating to the child or young person's education, employment, recreation and welfare
  • details a planning component for the child or young person's discharge from the residence.

All children and young people who enter a residence must have a placement created in CYRAS to reflect this.

Read Key information: A child or young person's journey through residence and Key information: Using the residential assessment triangle to support decision making and planning for further information.

Individual Care Plans

Individual Care Plans are pivotal to ensuring that children and young people's needs remain at the centre of a residential placement. The plan is developed using child-centred language, connecting with family/whānau, and gaining their views to assist everyone's engagement with the plan.

A child or young person's Individual Care Plan must be reviewed and updated as appropriate, at least once every four weeks during the time the child or young person is in residence. This review will include all relevant parties, including health and education services. When health or education assessments result in a treatment or education plan, this updated information must be reflected in the child or young person's plan.

Residential stays of less than five days

For residential stays of less than five days, the same admission process will occur for each child or young person. For children and young people who are, or who are likely to be, in the residence for less than five days, the residence must complete an Operational Plan detailing the specific strengths and needs of the child or young person, education, recreational activities and contact with significant others. Also refer to the Key Information: Grief and separation - When a child or young person enters care to understand more about the impact that entering care has on children and young people and how to manage this.

Medication

Senior residential staff must ensure that:

  • all medication is stored, transported and distributed safely and securely in accordance with Ministry of Health legislative requirements
  • a medication chart is created for each child or young person receiving medication which is accessible to staff
  • all medication is prescribed by a medical or nurse practitioner or dentist and administered according to their instructions
  • medication is administered to one child or young person at a time
  • each child or young person is monitored to ensure they take their medication
  • any medication errors are immediately reported to the health practitioner so that the child or young person can receive appropriate medical follow up
  • medication via injection is not administered (this can only be done by a health team member).

If a child or young person refuses their medication, their case leader and the medical team must be advised. Persistent refusal of medication must be discussed with the team leader clinical practice to decide on an appropriate course of action.

All controlled drugs must be checked daily and audited weekly jointly by a team leader and a member of the health team. All unused medication must be given to and disposed of by a health professional. Staff also must record when they have administered over-the-counter medication.

Management of children and young people's property

All property coming into the residence (whether on admission or during the child or young person's residential stay) must be named, recorded, signed by a staff member and co-signed by the child or young person. When the child or young person leaves the residence, their property must be signed out by both a staff member and the child or young person. Property that is not permitted in the residence must be stored safely and securely until such time as the child or young person leaves, or returned to the family or site social worker,

Each residence must have a process in place for children and young people to make a lost property claim and have their claim investigated.

Escorting young people to and/or from a residence

All escorts must be carried out in a professional manner to ensure the child or young person is safely and securely escorted to and from their destination while being treated with dignity and respect.

Prior to the escort, the case leader must complete the Off Site Activity/Event on the Risk Assessment Form. This form must be signed off by a team leader or the staff member on the senior duty roster, prior to the escort being undertaken. If, for some reason, the form cannot be completed prior to the escort taking place the escorting staff must get the approval of the residence manager before undertaking the escort.

The case leader must tell the child or young person of the travel as soon as possible if the child or young person is in the residence.

Escorting staff must ensure that:

  • they are fully briefed by the case leader or team leader or staff member on the senior duty roster on any risks the child or young person may pose, and the procedures they are to follow to mitigate against each risk
  • comply with this procedure including seeking clarification and approval from the residence manager when unsure.

There must be a minimum of two Child, Youth and Family employees, who have been trained in carrying out escorts and are non-violent crisis intervention (NVCI) certified. A minimum of one escort will be the same gender as the child or young person.

Where two or more children or young people are being escorted at the same time the residence manager must approve the ratio of children and young persons to staff. Care and protection residence managers can approve a care and protection young person being escorted by one staff member.

Youth justice road escorts

Escorting staff must ensure that the young people are not seated behind the driver. Escorting staff must travel from the residence to their destination and back to the residence without any deviation (i.e. no stopping to visit the children or young person's family/whānau, for food or toilet stops) unless it is planned and approved on the Risk Assessment Form. If a young person or staff requires the use of the toilet while on the road they must only stop at police stations.

In the event of an emergency, unless it is deemed safe, the child or young person must not leave the vehicle. In emergencies, residential staff must ensure the safety and wellbeing of the child or young person and the all staff first. The staff must contact the residence manager as soon as possible and advise them of the emergency.

Air travel

Escort staff must check in 60 minutes prior to the plane's departure and identify themselves to the airline staff. They need to have with them the appropriate letter and documentation. Air travel must include at least one residential staff member carrying handcuffs who has completed Child, Youth and Family handcuff training requirements. Staff must follow the directions of the airline staff and minimise any contact between the child or young person and members of the public. Staff can only use handcuffs while in the aircraft and at the direction of the pilot and to protect the safety of the aircraft, persons or property. Staff must report any incidents that occur during the escort to their residence manager as soon as possible after the plane has landed.

Care and protection residence managers can approve for care and protection young people to be escorted by air with a single staff member who is the same gender as the young person. Escorting staff must abide by decisions of the Court (i.e. the Judge or Registrar) and comply with all reasonable requests from court staff.

Legislation that impacts on youth justice escorts includes the Children, Young Persons, and Their Families (Residential Care) Regulations 1996, Children, Young Persons, and Their Families Act 1989, Aviation Crimes Act 1972 and the Crimes Act 1961.

Changing behaviour and supporting wellbeing

Every child or young person has the right to make a grievance (click here for the grievance form) if they feel that they have been treated unfairly, unreasonably or illegally, and to do so without fear or retribution.

When a child or young person wants to make a grievance we must:

  • have forms available for them to complete and a secure on-site mailbox to post the grievance form in
  • acknowledge their grievance within three working days
  • investigate their grievance and report the outcome to them, in writing, within 14 working days, or advise the child or young person why it will take longer.
  • give the child or young person the opportunity to have their grievance reviewed by the residences Grievance Panel if they are unsatisfied with the outcome of the investigation.
  • provide the child or young person with the opportunity to have an independent advocate support them with their grievance.

Shift planning and debriefing

Should a serious incident occur during a shift, the Ministry of Social Development’s Critical Incident and Stress Management is considered.

Staff must plan for each shift and debrief at the end of the shift, and the details of this must be recorded on the Shift Planning and Debriefing form. Should a serious incident occur during a shift, Psychological First Aid debriefing must also be considered.

All work in a residence needs to happen within a context of professional supervision; the Professional Supervision policy guides practice for residential social workers.

Line of sight

The primary task of the residence’s care team is to engage the child or young person and proactively manage their behaviour, in line with Behaviour Change practice and the Punctuated Practice approach.

During each shift, all staff members must be in the line of sight of at least one other staff member and all children and young people must be in the line of sight of at least one staff member.

Monitoring of children and young people at night

At the beginning and end of each night shift, a count of the number of children and young people in the residence must be undertaken jointly by staff members from both the beginning and end shifts.

The frequency of checks on children and young people must be aligned to the current needs of the child or young person as identified in their Operational Plan. At a minimum, each child or young person must be sighted by a staff member at least once every 30 minutes. Any other requirements in the child or young person's Operational Plan relating to their bedtime routine must also be adhered to.

When staff complete their checks, they must use the "I" button at all times.

When a child or young person is identified as being at risk of suicide and/or self-harm, the frequency of checks on them will be determined by what is stated in their Operational Plan.

Requirements for recording at night

The daily log must be completed every night, with every incident, event or period of unsettled behaviour by a young person recorded accurately. The night shift supervisor may only sign off the daily log once he or she is satisfied that it has been completed correctly and accurately.

Any issues with either utilising the "I" button probe or "I" button recording must be entered in the daily log and alerted to the night shift supervisor.

Shift Planning and Debriefing Sheets and Shift Summary Sheets must be completed accurately and reflect who is responsible for specific duties during the night shift. 

Placing children and young person in secure care

Children and young people can only be admitted to secure care under section 368(1)(a) and (b) of the Children, Young Persons, and Their Families Act 1989 and with the approval of a team leader or staff member on Senior Duty Roster.

When an admission to secure care is deemed appropriate, all children and young people must:

  • receive structured reflection work related to the grounds for their admission
  • be reviewed daily to decide if the grounds still exist for them to remain in secure care; the person responsible for the secure unit or staff member on the Senior Duty Roster must complete this review
  • be removed from secure care as soon as is safe and practicable and in the child or young person's best interests
  • not be in secure care for more than three consecutive days or 72 hours continuously without an application being made to the court to extend this time
  • be reviewed at least daily.

Use of force

The use of physical force while dealing with a child or young person in residence must be kept to an absolute minimum and only be used in extreme circumstances and when staff have reasonable grounds for believing that the use of physical force is necessary:

  • in self defence, or in the defence of another person
  • to protect that child or young person from injury, including suicide attempt
  • to prevent that child or young person from significantly damaging property
  • to prevent that child or young person from leaving the residence if they are unauthorised to do so
  • to secure the containment of that child or young person in secure care; or
  • for the purpose of carrying out any search authorised by the Children, Young Persons, and Their Families (Residential Care) Regulations 1996.

When the use of physical force is deemed necessary for one or more of the above purposes, the staff member must use no more force than is reasonably necessary in the circumstances. When it is assessed that use of force is to be exercised, it must be the least restrictive form necessary, and only applied for as long as is necessary to prevent an individual harming themselves or others.

Physical force must not be used when less intrusive form of intervention is adequate, i.e. non-violent crisis intervention (NVCI) therapeutic diffusion and de-escalation interventions.

Excessive or inappropriate use of force

The use of excessive or inappropriate force is not permitted.

Allegations that a staff member has used excessive or inappropriate force against a child or young person will be investigated in accordance with Child, Youth and Family human resource policy documents, including the Collective Agreement and the Code of Conduct. Allegations of excessive or inappropriate use of force may also be referred to New Zealand Police.

Only techniques approved by Child Youth and Family, that is, non-violent crisis intervention (NVCI) must be used to restrain a child or young person. Any staff member exercising use of force or restraint must be NVCI trained. NVCI is designed to use minimum force and focus on preventing injury to either party.

When force and/or restraint has been used in a situation, the team leader or staff member on the Duty Senior Roster must be informed immediately so that the child or young person's wellbeing and health needs are assessed and required assistance sought.

Recording and reporting

Incidents where force has been used must be recorded in the daily log by the end of the shift the incident occurred during, detailing:

  • who was present
  • what precipitated the situation
  • what attempts were made to de-escalate the situation
  • whether restraint was used
  • which restraint technique was used
  • whether any physical injuries were sustained during the incident.
  • the use of the force and of the circumstances giving rise to the justification of its use.

An incident form must be completed following an incident where force has been used and given to the shift leader.

Reporting incidents

When an injury or escape has occurred or force has been used, this information must be recorded on an incident form.

All incidents are categorised as A's, B's or C's, depending on the nature and seriousness of the incident. Incidents categorised as A's and B's must be immediately notified to the residence manager and escalated as required.

All incidents must be recorded on the incident form by the end of shift and before leaving the residence. These will be signed off by the shift leader and team leader. 

When a child or young person has a life threatening injury or dies

In situations when a child or young person in the residence has a life-threatening injury or dies, residential staff must:

  • assess the situation and in line with their training, attempt to resuscitate the child or young person until such time as a person with the appropriate medical authority confirms the death
  • immediately call for the police and an ambulance
  • secure the scene to enable the Police to do an investigation
  • inform the residence manager who will decide who will be advised (in accordance with Key Information: When a child or young person dies).

Reintegration and preparing for the future

All children and young people leaving the residence must have recorded in their plan a process for their transition from the residence to their new placement which is jointly developed by the Multi-Agency Team (MAT) and includes both the residential case leader and site social worker.

For children and young people returning home, at least two weeks prior to the return home a planning meeting involving the key professionals who are working with the child or young person and their family/whānau must be held. At this meeting professionals will ensure that the services and supports needed are in place.

Each child or young person must have a transition process prepared in preparation for their discharge.

The following documents will guide you through this process:

» Key Information: A child or young person's journey through residence

» Key Information: Transitioning between placements,

» Key Information: Towards independence - Transition to Independence

» Key Information: Transitions for children and young people who offend: Actively planning for success 

Updated 26 August 2016