31 Jan 2023

Oranga Tamariki considering reopening controversial children's home as more beds needed

2:53 pm on 31 January 2023
Oranga Tamariki Sign

Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

Oranga Tamariki is considering reopening a controversial children's home in Christchurch to meet demand for beds.

The child protection agency shut down the 10-bed Te Oranga care and protection house two years ago after video leaked of a boy being held in a headlock.

It was now seeking quotes to refurbish the inside of the house, deputy chief executive of service delivery Rachel Leota told RNZ.

"Our operations at Te Oranga remain paused, however, we are exploring how the facility may be best used to cater to the demand we are currently experiencing for residential beds," Leota said in a statement.

It was too early to say what that might cost.

There were no "immediate" plans to re-start, Leota said.

The problems at Te Oranga, revealed by the media in July 2021 and highlighted by a surprise inspection by the Children's Commissioner later that year, as its close-down progressed, "have been, and continue to be, addressed", Leota said.

In late 2021 Oranga Tamariki put out a plan that said it would close all its care and protection residences over the following year and "replace them with a model that enables tailored care for tamariki with high and complex need".

RNZ has asked how possibly reopening Te Oranga in 2023 fits in with this.

The number of children in care overall has been dropping, but the cost per child has been escalating.

On the youth justice front, as opposed to care and protection, the residential network for rangatahi has been growing, not shrinking, with a lot more and better partnership with mana whenua to develop homes, according to notes for the Minister for Children a year ago.

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