Working with children

Children’s Teams

The Children’s Team approach is a way of working hand in hand with families and whānau to create safer lives for at-risk children. It's not another service, but it’s a different approach.

We work together with other agencies, non-government organisations and communities to put the child first and ensure their voices are heard. Together we share information and create one plan for each child.

It's everyone's responsibility

At the very least, this approach must become part of our everyday behaviour – an expected and routine way of working.

It requires accountability at every level – from chief executives of government agencies in Wellington to front-line workers interacting directly with children and their families.

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Community-wide change

The Children’s Teams approach is a way of working to bring together existing services provided by agencies, NGOs, iwi, community members and other organisations in their support of at-risk tamariki.

Children’s Teams:

  • focus on the tamariki
  • get the right people working together
  • include frontline professionals from health, education, justice, welfare and social services (both government and NGOs)
  • assign a lead professional who brings together other professionals and practitioners to form a Child’s Action Network
  • complete an assessment of the child’s needs and develop a plan that supports each child using the services and informal supports within the  local community
  • are responsible for keeping the plan on track
  • are responsible for the safety and wellbeing of each child in the team.

Children’s Team process

While every team is different, there is a common process we can use to guide our journey. 

1. Referral

Referrals are reviewed by a professional panel, which decides whether a team approach is the kind of support the tamariki and their whānau needs. 

The child or young person and their family need to agree to participate. They actively engage in identifying their own needs, setting goals, and in planning and taking action to work towards their own improved wellbeing.

A lead professional is assigned as their main contact. 

 

2. The process

Teams can use these stages to mark their progress:

Assess - Plan - Implement - Review

This development is led by the child and their whānau, steered by the lead professional and supported by a network of practitioners and professionals who are all working to the same plan.

3. Exit

Once the child and their whānau are able to manage independently without the intensive coordinated response provided by Children’s Teams, they can go on to be supported within their community.

The lead professional

This person is essential to making the team work. They:

  • ensure the child is at the centre of everything and the child’s voice is heard
  • act as a single point of contact the child and their whānau can trust, and support them in making choices and in finding their way through the system
  • coordinate the network around the child, the completion of the assessment, the child's plan and any reviews
  • ensure the child receives the right interventions which are well-planned, regularly reviewed and effectively delivered
  • reduce overlap and inconsistency involving other practitioners and agency services.
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Who can be a lead professional?

Many professionals and practitioners, both government and non-government, can take on the lead professional role. The skills needed are the same regardless of background.

This could include – but isn't limited to ­– social workers, health professionals such as nurses or child psychologists, and education professionals such as behavioural or special needs professionals.

The person who takes on the role will focus on the specific needs of the child, and often will already have a working relationship with the whānau.

Lead professional supervision

Managers supervise lead professionals, and help them take part in peer or group supervision. Supervision is compulsory to support practitioners and professionals in achieving great outcomes. 

Child’s Action Network

Child’s Action Networks (CANs) are made up of the child or young person, their parents and caregivers, and any practitioners and professionals involved in providing care, support and services.

One member of the network takes on the role of lead professional. Each network is different, but all share the same goal of focusing on the needs of the child.

Membership is flexible and changes with the child's needs.

Each member of the network continues to work as they normally would with their tamariki. The network simply provides access to more resources, gives them a better understanding of what other members of the network are doing, and helps them to coordinate.

For each child, network members are responsible for:

  • providing evidence and analysis to support their contribution to the common assessment
  • contributing actively to solving problems or resolving difficulties
  • delivering the activities in the child’s plan
  • keeping other members of the team informed about progress in their area of responsibility
  • supporting the lead professional by keeping them informed, providing updates promptly when requested and attending meetings
  • supporting the lead professional by sharing information, offering guidance and advice.
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Local governance group

These support the establishment of Children's Teams and support and govern their operation at a local level. Each group is made up of community leaders and local agencies and organisations. Ultimately they make sure teams have what they need to work with vulnerable tamariki and their whānau.

Children's Team Panel

The panel is a group of senior practitioners and professionals from across the social, education, health, police and justice sectors in their community. 

The Panel:

  • makes decisions on referrals to the Children’s Team 
  • shares information and provides insight from their home agency or organisation
  • reviews the progress of assessments, plans and reviews of children and whānau involved with the team
  • provides advice and guidance to lead professionals
  • embeds the approach within their home agency or organisations
  • ensures there are no barriers to accessing their own agency’s services. 

Vulnerable Children's Hub

The Vulnerable Children's Hub is a contact point for professionals and practitioners in the Hamilton, Canterbury and Counties Manukau Children’s Teams where they can raise concerns about vulnerable children and young people.

It enables early identification of at-risk tamariki and takes proactive, preventative steps to address the needs of the child or young person and their whānau.

When contacted, social workers in the hub start by making a balanced assessment of the risk to the child to determine if an immediate referral to our national contact centre is required. Emergency or critical calls received by the hub are forwarded straight to the national contact centre, or to emergency services like the Police.

Vulnerable Kids Information System (ViKI)

ViKI is an information management system for Children’s Teams. ViKI currently supports the Vulnerable Children’s Hub and Children’s Teams in Hamilton, Canterbury and Counties Manukau.

It records, stores and provides access to information and concerns about vulnerable children and young people, including case management and reports on outcomes.

Practitioners from different agencies, non-government organisations and service providers with appropriate access all use ViKI as part of their role working with the Children’s Team. 

Teams can share what they know about a child, and their family or whānau. It allows them to build a more complete picture of the situation and put together an integrated and coordinated plan of services to meet the child's needs. 

Registered users can access ViKI at:

viki.govt.nz