In the last year the government has announced that they are going to make some changes to this part of the law. When the law is changed by the government it will mean that this law will only apply to parents who have been convicted of murder, manslaughter and infanticide which is the death of a child. Until the law is changed, the law affects many whānau. So, we have decided to provide an explanation of the law as it is now.
The law regarding subsequent tamariki/children applies in situations where parents who have previously had a child removed from their care, intend to care or are caring for a subsequent child.
The parents must prove that they are unlikely to inflict or allow the same harm that resulted in the first child being removed from their care.
Assessment and removal of a subsequent child can happen in two situations.
If the parents intend to care for or are caring for any subsequent child, they must prove that they are unlikely to inflict or allow the same kind of harm that resulted in their first child being removed.
If the social worker believes that the parent/s have had a previous child removed and they intend to or are caring for another child, the social worker must carry out an assessment.
The assessment of the parent/s and the application to the Family Court can happen before the child is born. If a custody order is made, the baby may be removed from the mother when it is born.
The law tells the social worker the process they must follow. The social worker must:
If the social worker is satisfied that the parent/s are unlikely to harm the subsequent child then the application is to confirm the social worker’s decision not to apply for a care or protection order.
if the social worker is not satisfied that the parents will prevent the child from harm then the social worker must make an application for a care or protection order.
It is important that whānau understand that the process for subsequent children, which will involve Oranga Tamariki and the Family Court, may take a long time. The child may be one or two years old by the time there is a hearing in the Family Court. By that time, it may not matter what changes the parents have made as the child will have become attached to the new caregivers.
It is also important for whānau to understand that if they become involved with Oranga Tamariki, and an FGC is held, the decisions they make for the first child, may have significant consequences for every subsequent/other child the parent/s will have.