Your rights

We talked with caregivers, children and young people like you, and together we created a charter that tells you your rights when you are living in the care of Child, Youth and Family.

This charter belongs to you. We want tocare for you as well as we can. When you are in care and living away from home you have rights. This means that you can expect to be treated well and to be well cared for.

A charter is a way of letting you know what to expect when you are in care. Everyone who looks after you is expected to do their best in caring for you.

In making this charter we have talked with young people and people who work with them.

Charter for children and young people in care

Please read the charter carefully so that you know your rights and can speak up about them.

  1. I have the right to know why I am in care. I should be treated like other young people who are not in care and can live at home.
  2. I have the right to live with people who care about me, who treat me with respect, and who I can trust. They will provide me with a supportive home where I feel welcome.
  3. I have the right to be safe from abuse and violence where I live.
  4. I have the right to have a say about what is happening to me. I can have a say in decisions being made about me and my social worker must tell me why decisions were made.
  5. I have the right to develop my talents and do things that are important to me, within reason. This includes my culture, language and religion. I have the right to get support if I need help to do the things that I want to do.
  6. I have the right to have stuff like clothes and pocket money within reason, and I can ask my caregiver or social worker how to get them.
  7. I have the right to have contact with my parents, brothers, sisters, family and friends. My social worker or caregiver will tell me why if I can't.
  8. I have the right to be enrolled in school or a course until I am at least 16. I will have the opportunity to participate in training, education or employment, and I will be supported to do my best.
  9. I have the right to things that are my own, to privacy and to choose who I confide in. I can have a reasonable degree of freedom as long as I follow house rules.
  10. I have the right to see my lawyer, caregiver and social worker privately, and they will listen to what I have to say.
  11. I have the right to have my health and dental needs met like other young people.
  12. I have the right to make a complaint if I do not feel that I am being listened to, of I need someone to act on my behalf, or I feel my rights are not being observed.
  13. I have the right to know about the universal rights that nearly every country in the world agrees kids should have (United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child). My social worker can tell me more about this.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child

Children and young people aged 0 to 17 years old have special rights under the law, and are covered by different laws to adults. Everyone in New Zealand - families, communities and the Government - must work together to make sure your rights are protected.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is a universal declaration that says young people are important and should be valued, cared for and protected.

A copy of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is available to download from the Office of the Children's Commission website at the following link.

If you are staying in a residence

You have the right to make a complaint (grievance) about anything that you think is unfair or unsafe for you while staying with us. The following steps explain how your complaint will be sorted out.

1. You have a complaint

If you feel comfortable, talk to a staff member aboutyour complaint. They will listen to you and try to sortthings out as quickly as possible.

If this does not work, you can ask staff for a Grievance Form. They will explain how the grievance process works and can help you fill out the form. Write down clearly what your complaint is about and what you would like done to put things right. Complete the Grievance Form and put it in the grievance mailbox or give it back to staff.

Staff will also tell you about advocates (support people), who can help you make sure your complaint is carried out fairly.

The manager or senior staff member will then look into your complaint. They will talk to you and maybe to other staff or young people involved. Their decision will be explained to you and a written copy given to you within two weeks.

2. You are unhappy with the decision

You have seven days to ask the Grievance Panel (three people from the community) to look into your complaint.

The manager or senior staff member will tell you (and give you a written copy) of the Grievance Panel's decision. The manager or senior staff member will then carry out the Panel's decision.

3. You are unhappy with the panel's decision

You can ask for the Commissioner for Children to review your complaint. The Grievance Panel or the manager or senior staff member will help you contact them.


You can choose who your advocate will be. Think carefully about who would best help you. They can be:

  • a member of your family or whānau
  • a staff member that you trust
  • one of the volunteer advocates from the list
  • your barrister, solicitor or youth advocate.

You can contact them yourself or staff can do this for you.

You can download the residence 'getting it sorted' brochure and poster below.

It's okay to complain

If you feel you are not being listened to or need someone who can act on your behalf, or you want to make a complaint, this is what you can do:

  • Speak to your social worker, or you can ask to speak to your social worker's supervisor.
  • Call someone at the Office of the Commissioner for Children
  • Call someone at Child, Youth and Family.

You can contact us at 0508 FAMILY (0508 326 459)