New phone support service launched for carers of at-risk children

The Ministry for Children, Oranga Tamariki, has launched a new round-the-clock support line for caregivers. Picture: RNZ

The Ministry for Children, Oranga Tamariki, has launched a new round-the-clock support line for caregivers.

The freephone line will enable those looking after the country’s most vulnerable children to speak to a trained social worker at any time.

It is the first of a number of initiatives to be rolled out, aimed at improving the support that is available to caregivers. So far the support line is averaging about 35 calls a day, but that number is expected to grow.

Oranga Tamariki deputy chief executive for care services Trish Langridge said caregivers would be able to ask for help about a range of things.

“Some of them will be quite basic questions, just about, ‘Oh look, I need to get sports gear for them, how does that work?’ All the way through to, ‘They’re really unhappy, they’re crying, and I need some help to soothe them’.”

On-call social workers have always been available after-hours. But Ms Langridge said often caregivers’ questions did not require a social worker to be sent out.

“It could be something that could be dealt with over the phone, so by having social workers on the phone 24-7, we’re able to deal with things more quickly – and it’s less stressful for the caregiver to get something straight away.”

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