Source: Ministry for Children
Hawke’s Bay Practice Review
The findings of a Practice Review into events at Hastings Hospital have today been released, with Oranga Tamariki announcing immediate changes to ensure greater scrutiny on how children are taken into care.
Undertaken by the Chief Social Worker, with independent oversight from the Office of the Children’s Commissioner and a representative of Ngāti Kahungunu, the Review found that although safety concerns for the baby meant Oranga Tamariki did the right thing to get involved, mistakes were made in how it worked with the family and other partners.
The Review found the Ministry didn’t try hard enough to build good relationships with whānau members or to explore options to place the baby with wider family, and the systems in place to check decisions didn’t work as intended.
Additionally, too much reliance was placed on historical information about the whānau and not enough effort was made to understand their current situation.
Chief Executive Grainne Moss said she was deeply saddened by the findings of the Review and had apologised to the family at the heart of it.
“I know we have hurt this whānau – and I am truly sorry.
“Our work here wasn’t of a high standard and our usual checks and balances also failed. While there were safety concerns for this baby, we didn’t do a good job for this family and that is unacceptable.”
To ensure no other family will experience what happened in this case, the following changes will be made from today:
Unless there is a clear need for action to protect a child from immediate and imminent danger, all interim custody order applications will be made ‘on notice’ to ensure the family is given the opportunity to have their say before a judge makes a final decision.
When staff need to act faster to keep a child safe, every Section 78 ‘without notice’ application will go through additional checks with a Regional Legal Manager, a Site Manager and a Practice Leader all signing off.
Additional investment will be made into staff training nationwide and greater supervision for Family Group Conferences
Our practise leaders on every site will look at all reports of concern for unborn and newborn babies and check that we put the right planning and assessment around vulnerable mothers at the earliest opportunity.
In Hastings, more resources and training will be provided to staff and a new Regional Supervisor appointed.
“All of the recommendations of the Review have been accepted,” says Mrs Moss. “It is clear from this Review that we made mistakes, we need to own up to that and make sure we do everything we can to prevent them from happening again.
“I am making a personal commitment to meet with every site in the country to talk to my staff about the high level of professional practice I expect from them.”
Oranga Tamariki was created in 2017 as part of a bold overhaul of the existing care and protection, and youth justice systems.
Its policies were revised in line with new legislation on July 1 this year which required closer working with whānau, hapū and iwi. Staff training continues to roll out to support these significant changes.
“Creating a new Ministry with a new way of working was always going to be a challenge. In the past few years we have seen a culture shift within Oranga Tamariki, but there are aspects that are not happening fast enough. This Review has focused our attention on that and I know we need to make further and faster changes,” Mrs Moss said.
“The type of social work we do is incredibly complex. It’s a tough environment – if staff make the wrong decision a baby could die – but it’s clear we got things wrong in this case.
“To improve the future of our most vulnerable young people will take a lot of hard work and we can’t do it alone. It’s crucial that we do this alongside and in partnership with others.”