We're starting early talks about the well being of children through hui ā-whānau – whānau gatherings that use tikanga ways of working.
When we have concerns about a child's safety, we need to understand and assess what's happening from the perspective of the child, their family and whānau, and those who support them. We will seek to hold a hui ā-whānau or family meeting as soon as possible. The aim is increased focus on early and ongoing engagement with families, whānau, hapū and iwi.
Hui ā-whānau is part of a new approach being rolled out that changes how we assess a child's needs and how we become involved with a family and whānau. For instance we now try to speak directly to every person who makes a report of concern and prepare a chronology of events.
By then holding a hui ā-whānau, social workers can engage with family and whānau much earlier. Whānau come up with their own solutions to keep children safe and out of Oranga Tamariki care.
How it works
A hui ā-whānau can include writing a contract, or a whānau agreement, between the family and whānau and Oranga Tamariki to identify what needs to be done differently to achieve these outcomes, resolve issues and respond to the needs of the child. It can also identify positive safety or other protective factors in the family and whānau to build safety around the child and young person.
When serious concerns for an unborn baby came through recently, early decision-making involving family and whānau meant the baby is now cared for within the whānau.
The mother had three previous children who had already been placed in care. Concerns for the baby included the mother’s ongoing drug use and domestic violence. When an initial hui ā-whānau was held, the mother and her family and whānau did not attend and further whakapapa searching proved fruitless as the mother had no knowledge of her iwi affiliations.
When DNA testing proved who the father was, another hui ā-whānau was arranged with the mother, father and paternal whānau attending. The paternal grandmother took a lead role and it was agreed a paternal aunt would care for the child. This was all accomplished quickly.
Published: August 9, 2021