If Oranga Tamariki deals with you outside the court system
Family/whānau agreements: Informal agreements for support from Oranga Tamariki
When will a family/whānau meeting be called, and what is the meeting for?
A family/whānau agreement is an option when Oranga Tamariki doesn’t think your child needs care or protection but they do have some concerns and they think the issues can be dealt with and you can be cared for adequately within your family or whānau. Oranga Tamariki can then ask for a family/whānau meeting, which will include your immediate family or whānau and anyone else you want to invite. (This is not a Family Group Conference, which is discussed later in this section.)
A family/whānau agreement is likely to be appropriate when your family or whānau thinks there’s a problem and wants to work it out. It must usually be the kind of problem that can be addressed in the short term (within three months, or six months at the most). An example is when a tired and stressed single parent needs some time out.
The aim of the meeting is to agree on a detailed plan about what will happen. Oranga Tamariki will provide support services – for example, home help, individual or family/whānau counselling, budgeting advice, advice in parenting skills, short-term care for children, or transport. The agreement usually lasts for up to three months.
These family/whānau meetings and agreements aren’t specifically mentioned in the Oranga Tamariki Act – they’re something that Oranga Tamariki has developed in practice as part of its official duty to provide services and policies that support children.
These informal meetings are also different from “Family Group Conferences”, which are formal meetings that are part of the process the law sets out for dealing with care and protection cases (see later in this section). If Oranga Tamariki thinks your child needs care or protection they have to call a Family Group Conference and won’t call an informal family/whānau meeting.