Key statistics and information for media.

This page provides information and data frequently requested by the media. It will also be of interest to students, academics and other researchers.  

For all media enquiries, please contact the Ministry of Social Development’s media team:

Please check out our newspage to keep up-to-date with announcements and news.

Notifications (reports of concern)

In the year ending June 2013, we received 148,659 notifications, including family violence referrals from Police. Police are our primary referrers, followed by health and education professionals, social service providers, family members and friends, and members of the public.

When comparing key data to the same period the previous year (1 July 2011 - 30 June 2012)...

There were more:

  • notifications requiring further action (61,877 compared to 60,330) and an increase in the proportion of notifications that required further action (42% compared to 39%)
  • substantiated findings of abuse (22,984 compared to 22,172) - these include findings of emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse and neglect.
  • distinct children and young people with substantiated abuse findings (18,595 compared to 18,277)

... and there were less:

  • notifications including police family violence referrals (148,659 compared to 153,407)
  • Police family violence referrals (57,766 compared to 62,678)
  • care and protection family group conferences (8,583 compared to 8,809)
  • youth justice family group conferences (6,259 compared to 7,284).

As at 30 June 2013, compared to 30 June 2012:

....there were more:

  • approved caregivers (3,434 compared to 3,406)

.....and there were less:

  • children and young people in out-of-home placements (3,844 compared to 3,884)

Our role

When families become known to us, our role is to:

  • work out what’s going on and assess the level of needs, including risk or harm to the child
  • work with the family and others to find the best solution for the child:

In the majority of cases, families don’t require our involvement. They just need advice or to be connected to the right support services.  When the family has needs, but there are no safety or wellbeing issues for the child, we put them in touch with appropriate community services if they are not already connected.

For others, we carry out a fuller assessment to find out more about what’s happening for the family, their needs and risks (which includes safety) and the right way to help.  Depending on what we find, we will:

  • link the family with the right community based support services to help meet their needs in a coordinated, wrap-around way
  • for the more complex cases, we’ll hold a family group conference where the family and other key people agree on a plan to support the child, and work with the family to help them care safely for their children.
  • if the child or young person is in serious danger and needs to be protected, they will be taken into care while we are working with the family.

Assessments and making decisions

Social workers don’t make decisions in isolation. The assessment and decision making process involves a range of steps to determine the level of risk or harm to a child, and what response and timeframe is most appropriate:

A decision response tool helps guide our decision making, and ensure the child or young person’s safety is the central focus. 

The group case consult process is central to our decision- making practice. It brings family and key professionals together to combine our thinking about a case and search for the best solutions. 

Regular one-on-one consultations with social worker supervisors also give social workers an opportunity to seek advice about specific cases.

Each Child, Youth and Family site has a Care and Protection Resource Panel, that meets regularly to offer guidance and advice to our social workers. The panel members bring the perspective of their local community, and of other agencies, disciplines, cultures and experience to help ensure the safety and wellbeing of local children.

When required, the Family Court agrees that a child needs to be taken into care, and makes other Court Orders as appropriate.

Kids in care

What’s best for children is to be safe and cared for in their own families, so we work with families to help them provide a safe and loving home for them.   

When it’s not safe for a child or young person to be cared for at home, we find other family members or caregivers for them to live with. Many of these children will return home once things are sorted out, while others will stay permanently with their caregivers or extended family if the Family Court decides this is in the best interests of the child.


Child, Youth and Family has around 4000 foster carers, who are either extended family members or non-whānau. They are ordinary people who do an extraordinary job in providing love, care and support to the children who can't live with their own families.  There are a variety of care options, including:

  • Emergency care - when a child or young person is placed in care at short notice because there are serious concerns for their safety.
  • Respite care - taking a child in for a weekend or a short period of time, to give their parents or caregivers a break.
  • Transitional or short-term care – taking a child in while we work with their family to make decisions about what’s best for the child, and how to make sure they are safe and well cared for.
  • Home for life - when whānau or foster carers make a lifelong commitment to a child in foster care, and they are no longer in Child, Youth and Family’s care. The child still maintains contact with their family of origin, but gets a real sense of security and belonging as part of your family.

Each year, over 300 children and young people will achieve a ‘home for life’ with a family they can call their own, either within their own extended family or with foster carers.

We want children to be with the people who are best for them, right from the start wherever possible. This means looking firstly to extended whānau or people connected with the family.

Whether the caregivers are whānau or non-whānau, we need to be confident that they can provide a safe and loving environment for the child or young person placed in their care. For this reason, all our caregivers go through a check and assessment process, which includes Police vetting and ongoing review. 


The ways to care for a child who is not your own has changed significantly in New Zealand over the years. In New Zealand 3,837 children were adopted in 1970; In the year ending June 2011, only 206 children were adopted in New Zealand courts, Most of these involved family members such as stepparent adoptions. An additional 238 overseas adoptions were completed in the same period.


Residential care placements are used when the behaviour of a child or young person is putting themselves or others at risk, or when there is no suitable community placement available to take care of the child or young person’s complex needs.  While they are in the residences, they’ll get the specialist support and supervision they need to stabilise their behaviour.  They have an individualised care plan to make sure they have the tools and support they need to return safely to the community.

  • We have four care and protection residences, with places for up to 58 children and young people.
  • We also have four youth justice residences, for up to 146 young offenders aged between 14 and 17, who have been arrested by police, remanded in court, sentenced to imprisonment, or the Court has ordered then to go into a residence.

Youth justice

When young people offend, we want them to get back on track as soon as possible and make good decisions in the future. We'll organise a conference for the young person, their family and the victim of their offending to meet and talk about the impact of their actions. We'll then help them get back on track for a successful future.

While most young people offend only once, learn from their mistakes and move on with their lives, there is a group of more persistent and serious offenders who cause harm to themselves and others through their actions. These young people have complex needs and typically come from challenging backgrounds. The Fresh Start reforms, introduced in 2010, give us a wider range of options, to hold these young offenders to account and to provide more intensive, sustained and individualised support to assist long-term positive change.

As well as targeting these serious and persistent offenders, there are also a number of early-intervention initiatives for children and young people at the lower end of offending, or at risk of getting into trouble.

Frequently Asked Questions

We have developed Q&As for questions we regularly receive from the media and others.  We will continue to build this collection as time progresses.