Working with Education

Schools and early childhood education providers are key partners in the protection of children and the early identification of concerns about possible abuse and neglect.

Overview - strengthening our relationships with schools

Teachers work with children or young people everyday and are best placed to notice if something isn’t right, or if a child or their family is struggling.

We’re increasing our focus on building stronger relationships with education providers and have a number of initiatives underway to help us work better with schools and the early childhood education sector. We want to make sure we are working alongside them, to ensure that they are kept informed and are an active part of the work we do.  This will help us achieve the best possible outcomes for children and young people.

Memorandum of Understanding between Child, Youth and Family and Education

We have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Education, which sets out in detail how the two agencies will work together to ensure the safety and education of vulnerable children. Child protection training for identifying at-risk children and potentially dangerous situations, is included, along with who to work with and what action to take.  Read more

Education Assist

The ED ASSIST dedicated phone line and email address for schools will help us easily identify incoming calls from schools, enabling a smoother, more targeted response to any queries they may have. It will also help to strengthen the link between schools and their local Child, Youth and Family site. ED ASSIST can help arrange a number of services for schools, including:

  • arranging for copies of the Working Together interagency guide and our brochures to be sent to schools
  • giving information about the Working Together child protection workshops for professionals working with children and young people
  • explaining how to make a report of concern about a child or young person
  • referring the caller to a member of the Ed Assist team to answer general questions
  • linking schools to their local Child, Youth and Family site.

You can call us on 0508 ED ASSIST (0508 332 774) or, if you don’t need an immediate response, email us on This service does not replace our existing contact centre. If you are concerned about the safety of a child or young person, you can still call our free phone number anytime: 0508 FAMILY (0508 326 459).

Sitting alongside ED ASSIST, is an outbound calling service, which offers a more proactive approach to communicating with schools. Our contact centre is calling schools in a phased way and giving them information about child protection training opportunities, resources, and advice about making a report of concern. It’s expected that all schools will have been contacted by the end of the year.

Child protection education

Working together’ child protection workshops bring together local teachers, health professionals and social service providers to learn about what to look out for, and ways to help the children and families they are worried about. They offer a fantastic opportunity to build and strengthen local child protection networks.

We have also developed a new interagency guide Working together to keep children and young people safe. It helps people recognise when families are vulnerable and how they can help, through to spotting the signs of abuse, who to talk to, how to report their concerns, and what happens when a report of concern comes through to Child, Youth and Family.

To register your interest in attending future Working together workshops, please contact your local Child, Youth and Family site manager on 0508 FAMILY (0508 326 459).


For hardcopies of the following resources, please contact 0508 ED ASSIST (0508 332 774)

Gateway health and education assessments

Gateway Assessments are an interagency project between Child, Youth and Family, Health and Education.

The project targets kids coming into care who, as a result of their backgrounds, are often disconnected from regular health and education services, and are more likely to have physical, behavioural, and emotional barriers to overcome. Often the complexity of problems means that no single agency is able to provide the full package of care and services required. 

Identifying and responding to children and young people’s health and education needs is a critical step in enabling them to thrive. A Gateway Assessment will enable us to build a complete picture of the child or young person's needs, and make sure they get access to the right services as early as possible.

Family Group Conferences

A family group conference is a structured meeting where the family and professionals come together to talk about concerns held for a child or young person. There are two types of family group conferences:

  • care and protection – held when there are concerns for the safety or well-being of a child or young person
  • youth justice – held when a child or young person has offended.

Education professionals can have a big part to play in ensuring family group conferences achieve the best outcomes possible.

It’s always a combination of things that make a difference, so the child or young person and their family need a whole range of people to help and be part of their support team. You’re likely to know the child, young person or their family, and have ideas about the services and supports available to them. The information you provide will help the family make good decisions about the child or young person’s future.

Social Workers in Schools (SWiS)

SWiS (primary school) and MASSiSS (secondary school) are school-based community social work services funded by the Ministry of Social Development.

SWiS and MASSiSS provide early assistance and intervention to children, young people and their families when social or family circumstances are causing them to struggle with education, health or social development. The aim is to see safe, healthy and socialised children with a strong sense of identity, who are fully engaged in school.

Early childhood education funding for children in care

Budget 2011 also included funding of more than $11.4 million over four years to subsidise the cost of up to 20 hours per week early childhood education for children in Child, Youth and Family care who are aged between 18 months to three years. 

International evidence tells us that 15 to 20 hours per week of early childhood education improves outcomes for vulnerable children.  Participation in quality early childhood education helps prepare children for achievement at school by teaching social skills and appropriate behaviour, and enhancing their ability to learn.

The available funding is paid directly to providers, to help caregivers meet the costs associated with children in care attending early childhood education. This will reach up to 385 children each year.

Beyond three years, all children benefit from the Ministry of Education's 20 hours free ECE.