Entries into Care

Published: June 30, 2021

The number of entries to care has fallen significantly over the past three years, with the most noticeable drop happening over the last year.


Care refers to those in the custody of Oranga Tamariki with the majority of children in the day to day care of family and whānau. 

This analysis looks at the numbers of entries to care and associated factors. It uses internal and external qualitative and quantitative information to explore who is most affected by, and potential reasons for, the decline in entries to care.

Specifically, it asks:

  • Which groups of children are most represented in the decrease? Which ages and ethnicities? Where do these children live?
  • Does the decrease in entries coincide with key events? (such as the formation of Oranga Tamariki in 2017, the reviews of Oranga Tamariki from 2019 onwards and the introduction of s7AA legislation).
  • How has practice changed over the last three years?
  • What is occurring at a local level?
  • Has the number of carers/children receiving the Unsupported Child’s Benefit (UCB) been increasing as entries to care have been decreasing?
  • Have entries to care fallen because the wellbeing of children and their families increased?

Key findings

The number of entries to care has fallen markedly since 2017. The fall in numbers entering care is most pronounced in the 2020 financial year. The largest drop in entries is observed for tamariki Māori and for those in the 0-1 age group.

There have been numerous changes to Oranga Tamariki practice since 2017. These include investment in early support services, strengthening core social work practice, introducing and implementing the National Care Standards and a  framework for cultural competency. Further there has been a focus on the design and implementation of prototypes and initiatives to support early engagement and assessment, development of intensive response services, and designing and ensuring greater support is provided to whānau/families. We also have a focus on Strategic Partnerships with iwi and how we work with providers.

We cannot directly attribute the decrease in the number of tamariki entering care to any one cause. The effect is a cumulation of a number of factors working together. Analysis using the Oranga Tamariki Children’s Wellbeing Model indicates that there has not been a significant shift in children’s health and development in the last year which may have explained the decrease.