Methamphetamine and care

Published: August 10, 2020

Methamphetamine, and other drug and alcohol use, is frequently a factor in decisions to place a child into care.


Methamphetamine use, and the attendant problems, is an issue of concern for New Zealand society. The Evidence Centre has drawn together the information that Oranga Tamariki holds relating to methamphetamine as a factor in the decision to take a child into care and ongoing impacts. Sources of information include case note reviews from a random sample of tamariki who recently entered care, a review of cases where babies were taken into care, and a 2019 survey of caregivers.

Key findings

  • Drug and alcohol abuse are frequently factors in the decisions to place a child in care.
  • Methamphetamine is the dominant drug in these decisions, estimated as a factor for almost half of the children who came into our care in the year ended 29 February 2020.
  • Usage is by the mother, others in the household, or both.
  • The impacts of methamphetamine on children in care are ongoing.
  • Indicators of drug and substance abuse are higher for those parents whose children are involved with the care and protection system than for the general population.