New appointments at Oranga Tamariki in Alexandra will benefit children across Central Otago, site manager Chris Pickering says.
Four staff have recently begun working from the Alexandra office.
Locals might recognise Andy Reed who for the past six years had been working as a postie in the Teviot Valley, but before that had spent 27 years as a policeman.
Working for Oranga Tamariki would have some similarities to his previous role as a policeman, still caring for young people but “working from a different angle”, he said.
His new role was as family group conference co-ordinator, he said.
“As co-ordinator I help the families navigate through the process almost as an independent person to make sure the families understand what we are trying to achieve.”
Care and protection social worker Leeann Moore had transferred from the Dunedin office.
Her new role was an opportunity to reconnect with her Central Otago roots.
“My hometown is Roxburgh.”
She was looking forward to “working closer with the community, and the community agencies”.
Practice leader Carol Dempster had previously worked as a family violence intervention co-ordinator.
She relocated from Dunedin to Roxburgh to join the Central Otago team.
“My key role is as a support for the social work practitioners and the team.”
She ensured standards and practices were consistent with Oranga Tamariki’s new model, “which is a bit more of a collaborative model with both family and the community”.
The community would notice some changes, she said.
“They will notice that we talk to them more about how they see what is going on for the children.”
The aim was to work more in partnership with families and professionals in health and education, she said.
“With a huge emphasis on making sure that the children are connected in to both their family culture and their ethnic cultures.”
Care and protection social worker Nichola Bennett was also joining the team from Oamaru, providing a full compliment of 15 staff in Alexandra, Mr Pickering said.
Before he arrived as site manager in February, “the office was managed from Dunedin”.
Having a dedicated site manager and practice manager in Alexandra allowed more active involvement in Central Otago, he said.
“There’s lots of opportunities out there to be working closer and stronger than we are doing.”
Mr Pickering said there had been no noticeable change to their operation since the closure of the Roxburgh children’s village. Although appointments were advertised internally and xternally, none of the recent appointments at Oranga Tamariki’s site in Alexandra had been former employees impacted by the cessation of the residential component.