New Zealand Law Society - Initial Independent Children's Monitor report released

Initial Independent Children's Monitor report released

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The Independent Children's Monitor's initial monitoring report for the period 1 July to 30 September 2019 has now been published.

The Monitor was established on 1 July 2019 and the Ministry of Social Development was appointed by the Minister for Children as the Monitor in April 2019. The Monitor is required to operate independently from the ministry's core business.

Working from an outcomes based approach the Monitor will look at how the Oranga Tamariki system enhances the wellbeing and life outcomes for the children and young people it comes in contact with. Central to this is the important role whānau, hapū and iwi play in working with Oranga Tamariki to achieve positive experiences and outcomes.

The Monitor has said it will produce three reports, with the initial report being presented to the Minister for Children in December 2019, the second in June 2020 and the third in December 2020. The initial report is now publicly available, having been published on 27 January 2020.

The initial report covers agency compliance with two regulations under the National Care Standards Regulations, Regulations 69 and 85, which are about allegations of abuse or neglect of children in care and how these are dealt with. The National Care Standards Regulations came into effect on 1 July 2019.

Four agencies are being monitored - Oranga Tamariki, Dingwall Trust, Open Home Foundation and Barnados. In the initial report the Monitor found that the four agencies have policies and processes to facilitate compliance with Regulations 69 and 85 which relate to reports of abuse and neglect of children and young people in care.

"In response to Regulations 69 and 85, for the three-month reporting period, children and young people in the care of Barnardos and Dingwall Trust did not disclose any incidents of abuse or neglect and therefore testing their compliance with those regulations was not required. Open Home Foundation had three allegations of abuse and neglect for children in care and Oranga Tamariki had 335," the report says.

"From the information provided and the accountabilities Open Home Foundation is responsible for, its practice is complying with Regulations 69 and 85.

"Oranga Tamariki is partially compliant with all aspects of the regulations being monitored. Its policies, procedures and practice guidance provide adequate information to support full compliance.

"In relation to the partial compliance by Oranga Tamariki, the information provided states the responses to allegations were mostly timely at the initial safety screen however the timeframes were not met consistently when completing assessments or investigations into the allegations. There were some data recording errors that required amendment and the child or young person was not always informed of the outcome of the investigation, if appropriate, as required by the Regulation."

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