Oranga Tamariki has launched a new phone number to encourage more people to consider becoming caregivers.
Central Otago site manager Chris Pickering said Oranga Tamariki had embarked on a commitment to “recruit more caregivers, both family and non-family, so we’ve got more choice to actually better match caregivers to the needs of the children and young people.
“In some areas our needs are for a particular age range, and so it is about understanding your care-needs population, and what we want to target. Is it targeting individuals and couples etc .. who want to care for children 10-plus or 10-below, or quite a broad range?”
Having people who lived in a wide range of areas across the region was also important, to minimise disruption for the children, enabling them to continue at their schools and maintain connections close to their home, he said.
The new phone number would allow people who were interested in becoming caregivers to get more information and discuss what was involved and different ways they could help, Mr Pickering said.
Then, if they were still interested, pre-screening processes would take place, including police checks, references, medical reports and face-to-face interviews.
They would also attend the Ways to Care preparation programme.
This two-day programme was designed to give potential caregivers guidance before undertaking care of a child not born to them, he said.
The programme provided “opportunities for people who were expressing an interest and wanted to make an informed decision to come and be exposed to all manner of questions and answers and information”.
The programme was run as two separate one-day sessions with a week in between, so people could digest the information, “talk it over with family and their own kids and then come back and say ‘yes I want to take it to the next stage'”.
Oranga Tamariki caregiver social worker Hannah Bain said caregivers came from many walks of life and had a diverse range of experience and backgrounds.
“Caregivers need to have the attributes of resilience, tolerance, be open-minded and have a desire to help and make a difference,” she said.
Caregivers provided respite, emergency, short-term and permanent placements for children who could not stay at home safely.
“While caregiving is a big challenge, it comes with equally big rewards.”