Your rights when you are in care 

What are my rights as a child or young person in care?

If you’re a child or young person under the care of the Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki (Oranga Tamariki), you have a right to:
  • know why you are in care 
  • feel cared for and respected
  • be safe from abuse and violence where you live 
  • have a say about decisions being made about you, and be told why decisions are being made 
  • develop your interests and do things that are important to you (e.g. regarding your culture, language, religion and sports)
  • privacy when you need it, especially when you want to talk to your lawyer, caregiver or social worker 
  • have personal possessions
  • go to school, and get help with your homework
  • receive the healthcare you need
  • acquire the skills you need to become independent
  • get the help and support you need to manage and understand your feelings about your situation.
  • have contact with your family and friends (or be told by your social worker or caregiver why you can’t) 
  • see what has been written about you, or be told by your social worker why you can’t 
  • have trusted adults you can talk to, and have someone to tell if you think you’re not being listened to or not being supported.
You can view more information about what to expect if you are in care, on the Oranga Tamariki website.

You can also visit the website of the Office of the Children’s Commissioner for information about your rights as a child or young person.
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Who can I talk to if I have questions or concerns about my care?

While you are in care you can ask your social worker or call Oranga Tamariki on 0508 326 459 if you have questions about your care.

You can call the Children’s Commissioner’s Child Rights Advice Line (0800 224 453 or Mon, Wed 9am-4pm, Thurs 9am-4pm) for advice about your rights as a child or young person.

You can also contact your lawyer  – your social worker can tell you who this is and how to contact them.

If you have a complaint about the caregiver you have been placed with, and the complaint does not involve abuse, neglect or harm, you can follow the complaints process. You can ask for an advocate to help you.

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How do I report abuse or neglect by an Oranga Tamariki-appointed caregiver?

If you want to report abuse, neglect or harm by your caregiver, you can call Oranga Tamariki on 0508 326 459 or email them at When Oranga Tamariki receives a ‘report of concern’ about a caregiver, they will assess or investigate the complaint. They will also notify the caregiver that an allegation has been made.

Oranga Tamariki must notify your parents if: 

  • you are moved to another caregiver during the assessment or investigation 
  • it is decided that you should remain with the caregiver during the assessment or investigation (unless advising your parents might not be in your best interests)

Oranga Tamariki may also notify the parents of any other children who remain with your caregiver.

If Oranga Tamariki decides it would be best for you to be placed permanently with a new caregiver, they must discuss this with you.