Children in care

Ā mātou mahi mō ngā tamariki e tiakina ana

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Concerned about the safety of a child or young person?

Call Police on 111 if you believe someone is in immediate danger.

If you're concerned about neglect, ill treatment, abuse, or danger of harm for a child or young person, contact Oranga Tamariki – Ministry for Children.

Freephone: 0508 326 459

Email: contact@ot.govt.nz

Supporting tamariki and rangatahi

The Chief Ombudsman has two major pieces of work supporting children in care:

  • investigating the practice of Oranga Tamariki when it removes newborn babies from their parents, whānau or other caregivers
  • preparing for a stronger role in investigating and resolving complaints made by tamariki and rangatahi in care, and their whānau.

While the Ombudsman is preparing for this stronger role, they are continuing to handle complaints against Oranga Tamariki using our existing powers.

How to make a complaint

Investigating the removal of newborn babies by Oranga Tamariki

The Chief Ombudsman has investigated the practice of Oranga Tamariki when it removes a newborn baby from their parents, whānau or other caregivers.

Investigators looked at 2 areas of practice:

  • Oranga Tamariki's decision-making around applying to the Family Court for a without notice interim custody order, including the evidence used by Oranga Tamariki to seek this order.
  • Oranga Tamariki's practices around the removal of a baby when an order is granted. This includes looking at how Oranga Tamariki works with other parties involved, such as district health boards, iwi and Police.

The aim was to ensure that Oranga Tamariki was acting appropriately when identifying and removing children considered to be at risk, while also respecting the rights of parents and whānau. The investigation was a thorough, systemic investigation of the policy and practice of Oranga Tamariki around the removal of newborn babies up to 30 days old.

The investigation did not look into specific complaints or investigate the actions of individual staff.

The Chief Ombudsman published his report on 6 August 2020.

Preparing for stronger complaint handling powers

The Chief Ombudsman is preparing to take a strengthened role in resolving and investigating complaints about children in care.

This will include complaints about Oranga Tamariki and its approved providers, as well as other government agencies who interact with children in care.

The Chief Ombudsman already has wide-ranging powers to investigate and resolve these complaints. New legislation is being drafted to add new duties and further powers in this area. It's proposed that under this legislation, the Chief Ombudsman will:

  • be notified by Oranga Tamariki of any serious and significant incidents
  • have additional powers to obtain information and work with other oversight bodies
  • have explicit duties requiring engagement with and a focus on improved outcomes for Māori.

The Ombudsman will also provide a common doorway for complaints from children in care that involve more than one agency.

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