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.

This table of contacts will help you decide how to get in touch when making a referral. Scroll down for important information about how to make a referral. 



You think a child is in immediate danger:

Call the Police on 111

You suspect a child has been experiencing chronic child abuse or neglect, or been physically or sexually assaulted:

Call our contact centre on 0508 326 459


You have concerns about a child who is at risk of abuse or neglect, and you’re a professional or practitioner in Horowhenua/Ōtaki, Eastern Bay of Plenty, Whanganui, Hamilton, Canterbury, Counties Manukau or Te Tai Tokerau:

Make a referral to the Vulnerable Children’s hub (see below)

You have concerns about a child who is at risk of abuse or neglect, and you’re a professional or practitioner in Marlborough, Rotorua or Tairāwhiti:

Make a referral directly to one of these Children’s Teams (see below)

You have concerns about a child and you live outside one of the areas listed above:

Call our contact centre on 0508 326 459


How to make a referral to the Vulnerable Children’s Hub

The hub is a contact point for frontline professionals and practitioners in Hamilton, Canterbury, Counties Manukau and Whangarei.

The hub undertakes an initial assessment of risk and needs of children and their whānau, and identifies the most appropriate pathway to address those needs. 

Emergency or critical calls received by the hub are forwarded straight to our national contact centre or emergency services like the Police. They could also be referred to a Children’s Team or a universal service.

Making a referral is quick and easy. To refer to the hub, you can:

Call 0800 FOR OURKIDS (0800 367 687)

Monday to Friday 8am – 5pm.

Make an online referral:
Online referral form 

Or complete a paper referral form.
Vulnerable Children's Hub Referral Form

Post or courier it to:

Vulnerable Children’s Hub
PO Box 78013
Grey Lynn
Auckland 1245

When sending the referral, clearly label it as ‘Private and confidential’.

Discuss the referral with the child and family

Although you don't need to have the consent of the family to make a referral to the hub, it's best practice to have a conversation with the family first. Families are more likely to engage with a service if they've been made aware of the referral.

Review your records and the referral form to understand what's required

It's important the hub is given the best information available so they can complete a thorough initial assessment and identify the right pathway for the child and their whānau.

Talk to other practitioners involved

We know valuable information is gathered when professionals talk to each other. That way we get a good picture of what's happening in the child’s life. If possible, discuss your concerns with other professionals and practitioners involved with the child and whānau, and include this in the referral.

Call the hub if you have any questions

Got questions or need help to complete the referral?

Call the hub on 0800 FOR OURKIDS (0800 367 687) Monday to Friday 8am – 5pm. Make sure to provide your contact details in case the hub needs to contact you for more information.

After you’ve made the referral

The hub's social workers will let you know the outcome of your referral. They may also call you if they need to clarify anything.

How to make a referral directly to a Children's Team

If you have any questions about making a referral, contact your local Children’s Team.

STEP 1. Discuss the referral with the child and family

While you don't have to have the family’s consent to make a referral it's best practice to discuss it with the family or whānau first.

When talking to the family, outline your concerns and tell them why the child’s health and development is at risk, and why you think a Children’s Team could help.

STEP 2: Understand what information is required

Providing the right information helps us make the right decisions, and ultimately helps the child and their whānau get the right help.

To collect the information required you'll need to:

  • review the service records you have for the child
  • discuss your concerns with other professionals and practitioners involved with the child, and ask them to use their records to provide information that informs your referral.

Read the entry criteria as a prompt to consider the range of needs that have an impact on a child’s health and development. This helps gather all the information to create the most complete picture possible.

Children’s Team entry criteria

STEP 3: Complete the Children’s Team referral form

Children's Team referral and consent form 

For the Rotorua Chlidren's Team use this  form:

Rotorua Children's Team Referral and Consent form

STEP 4: Deliver, mail or courier the completed form to the Children’s Team office

The form must be mailed or delivered by hand. It must not be emailed as it contains sensitive information.

Contact your local Children's Team to arrange how to drop off your form.