Children and young people with impairments

Published: June 10, 2020

Insights into the differences in wellbeing and service contact between children and young people who have indicators of disability and those without.



Oranga Tamariki has a legislative obligation to report on the number of disabled children and young people in statutory care and/or in the custody of the Chief Executive.

Defining, identifying, and reporting on disability is a complex topic. This report uses administrative data from Statistics NZ’s Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI) to provide an overview of children and young people in care, or with Oranga Tamariki involvement, who are living with impairments.

Key findings

  1. 1 in 10 tamariki who are known to Oranga Tamariki have at least one indicator of disability. This cohort is 2.6 times more likely to have at least one indicator of disability than children with no previous involvement with Oranga Tamariki.
  2. Of the 4,600 tamariki in out-of-home care, 640 or 14% have a disability indicator.
  3. Tamariki with the following profiles are all more likely to have at least one indicator of disability, relative to other children known to Oranga Tamariki:
    • Higher levels of Oranga Tamariki involvement
    • Older ages
    • Male
    • Non-Māori and non-Pacific (i.e. NZ European, Asian and other ethnicities).
  4. This is likely to be a reflection of several factors including diagnosis rates, behavioural developments at key childhood life stages, differing access to support services, agency interactions over childhood and potentially socioeconomic, cultural and other influences.
  5. Disability Support Services (DSS) funding is allocated to people with a long-term physical, intellectual and/or sensory impairment that requires ongoing support. Children who have ever been allocated DSS funding, and have current or previous Oranga Tamariki involvement, are more likely to have an intellectual impairment and high or very high support needs.