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.

Transition of Children’s Teams

Children’s Teams are one part of the current Oranga Tamariki early intervention system. The development of the future early intervention system will take time, and it’s important that tamariki and whānau receive the support they need while this happens.

Recent evaluations of the Children’s Teams have told us what is working well and what could be improved. In response, we will be gradually shifting the Children’s Teams to new, community-based approaches as these are developed. In the interim it will be business as usual for Children’s Teams which will continue to need the support of partner agencies and NGOs.

From 29 November 2019, Turanga Health commenced delivery of the coordination of services for children at risk of harm in Tairawhiti. The remaining nine Children’s Teams are currently at different levels of transition discussion with all teams expected to transition by 30 June 2021.

How Children's Teams work

01 How childrens teams work teens

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. Next steps

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.

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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 Action Network

Child Action Networks (CANs) are made up of the child or young person, their family and whānau, 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 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.

Local governance group

The Local Governance Group (LGG) supports and governs the operation of their local Children’s Team. Each group is made up of community leaders from local iwi, agencies and organisations. Ultimately they make sure teams have what they need to work with at-risk 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. 
  • Contact your local Children’s Team if you would like a copy of their panel’s terms of reference

Children's Hub

The Children's Hub is a contact point for professionals and practitioners in Children’s Teams, where they can raise concerns about at-risk 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 and the Children's Hub. 

It allows members of the Children’s Team to record, store and view information and concerns about the at-risk children and young people they are working with. It also supports case management and reporting on progress.

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:

How to get involved

Interested in supporting what we do? Talk to your manager, or get in touch with your local Children’s Team. 

Learn more