Our work for children in care
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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
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 we're preparing for this stronger role, we're continuing to handle complaints against Oranga Tamariki using our existing powers.
Investigating the removal of newborn babies by Oranga Tamariki
The Chief Ombudsman is currently investigating the practice of Oranga Tamariki when it removes a newborn baby from their parents, whānau or other caregivers.
They are looking 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 will include looking at how Oranga Tamariki works with other parties involved, such as district health boards, iwi and Police.
The Chief Ombudsman will identify if there are systemic issues with Oranga Tamariki's policy and practice in this area, and make recommendations for improvement if needed.
The aim is to ensure that Oranga Tamariki is acting appropriately when identifying and removing children considered to be at risk, while also respecting the rights of parents and whānau. The investigation will be 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 will not look into specific complaints or investigate the actions of individual staff.
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.