Respite camps supporting whanaungatanga

Published: May 2, 2022

It is a priority to enable siblings to be in care arrangements together; however, this is not always possible. If siblings can’t be living together, it is really important to ensure that they have opportunities to at least regularly spend time with each other, get to know each other, and build lasting relationships as whānau.

Siblings enjoying their time together at the respite camp
Siblings enjoying their time together at the respite camp.

Connecting siblings and giving caregivers time to rejuvenate

CGRS Supervisor, Nina Wells says the respite camps provide siblings with an opportunity to spend time together in a safe and caring environment and for their caregivers to have a well-deserved and needed break, knowing that the tamariki are being well cared for by people who understand their needs. 

Caregiver Robyn Maihi says the camps are a great idea and are beneficial for her as it allows her time for herself.

Robyn says the tamariki were also very excited with the activities which included going for walks and swimming. She says they also really enjoyed the lovely kai.

Respite care supports caregivers to continue to care and provide safe, stable and loving homes for tamariki. Respite care arrangements need to be considered in the context of mana tamaiti and wherever possible, occur naturally through the process of whanaungatanga and whakapapa. Camps that bring siblings together is one way Oranga Tamariki can honour whakapapa and support whanaungatanga.

I think these camps should be held regularly as it’s a good break for us caregivers, and for the tamariki.

Regional collaboration across business lines

The success of this camp was due to the collaboration of colleagues across business lines, and including caregivers as part of the team and working alongside partners within the community.

The Services for Children and Families placement team identified the sibling groups who would benefit from this type of support.

Each sibling group had unique needs and the team were able to work with Stand Tū Maia to tailor the camp to meet their needs.

SCAF social workers collaborated with staff at the camp to ensure they understood the children’s needs and arranged for their transport to and from the camp. Caregivers were able to meet the staff and settle tamariki into the camp.

The Caregiver Recruitment and Support team coordinated and managed the camp. The initiative was staffed by an Oranga Tamariki caregiver who was the Kaitiaki for the camp and was supported by youth workers from Oranga Tamariki. 

Ms Wells says CGRS hope to explore more opportunities to provide sibling camps as protection frameworks and COVID restrictions make gatherings and mixing easier.