Single Parent Services Waikato Single Parent Services Waikato


Complaints process

Resolution of Complaints

The agencies use a prescribed process for the resolution of complaints relating to service provision


  1. The agencies are committed to providing a quality service by staff who hold appropriate professional qualifications and who are supported by on-going professional development, training and supervision.
  2. All services will aim for best practice and will demonstrate a commitment to professional ethics.
  3. In the event of a complaint, Single Parent Services will be proactive to ensure that the interests of the client are protected.
  4. Single Parent Services has a written complaint procedure which complies with privacy and human rights legislation and is displayed in public areas in the agency. [See Attachment 1]
  5. Where a staff member is the subject of a complaint this will be the responsibility of the Manager. Where the Manager is the subject of a complaint this will be the responsibility of both the Link House and Birthright Waikato Trusts, acting in consultation.
  6. A Complaint Register will be kept and held in a locked cabinet in the Assistant Manager’s office.
  7. All complaints, except those relating to the Manager, will be reported to the Manager who is responsible for any action and follow up.
  8. All complaints relating to the Manager will be reported to the Trusts, who are responsible for any action and follow up.
  9. All complaints will be notified to the Link House and Birthright Waikato Trusts.
  10. All complaints will be notified to relationship managers with government departments, for the appropriate service. Should further detail and notification be required, this will be provided.
  11. An incident report will be completed on any occasion where a complaint may be anticipated. These reports will be held by the Assistant Manager.
  12. In the case of counsellors or social workers, a complaint may also be made by the client to their supervisor and/or professional body.
  13. Urgent complaints will be internally actioned within 48 hours of receipt. All other complaints will be internally actioned within 7 days.
  14. Complaints will be addressed to the complainant within 4 weeks.
  15. Complainants may have access to their personal information held by the agency to assist with their complaint.
  16. Where a complaint is not satisfactorily resolved an appropriate mediator will be engaged by the Agency.

Philosophical Base

Philosophical Base

Link House and Birthright Waikato use a clearly defined philosophical base to determine the services they will provide.

Single Parent Services Waikato is consititutionally required to follow the philosophical base of Link House and Birthright Waikato.

Link House Mission Statement:   Creating an Empowered Community.

Birthright Waikato Te Whanautanga Tika Mission StatementTo provide information and support to one-parent families that enable them to make life enriching choices.



  1. The organisations offer services which reflect the philosophy of the mission statements
  2. The organisations operate within the same code of ethics [see attachment]
  3. Link House and Birthright Waikato are registered under the Charities Act 2005 [see attached Certificates of Incorporation]
  4. The organisations operate within the requirements of their respective Trust Deeds [see attached]
  5. There are legal implications associated with the running of a Charitable Trust and both Trusts named here will adhere to all relevant legislation.
  6. There are legal implications associated with running a company and Single Parent Services Waikato will adhere to all relevant legislation.
  7. All changes to the Trust Deeds will be registered with the Charities Commission.
  8. The organisations operate within a 5 year Strategic Plan combined with an action plan, which are reviewed annually [see attached].
  9. The organisations have audited annual accounts [see attached]
  10. The philosophy and values of the organisations are incorporated into a manual for staff, volunteers, trustees and students.
  11. The Code of Ethics and Mission Statements of the organisations will be displayed in a public place.
  12. All policies and the philosophy and service will be reviewed on a regular basis.

Child Protection Policy

Child Protection

Ensuring the wellbeing and safety of children, including prevention of child abuse or maltreatment, is a paramount goal of these organisations. This policy provides guidance to staff on how to identify and respond to concerns about the wellbeing of a child, including possible abuse or neglect. It is our organisations’ commitment to protect children from abuse and to recognise the important roles all of our staff have in protecting children.

Definitions for the terms described in this policy are included on page 5 of this policy.

The process for responding to a concern about a child is included on page 6 of this policy.

The interests of the child will be the paramount consideration when any action is taken in response to suspected abuse or neglect.

The organisations commit to support the statutory agencies (Child, Youth and Family and the New Zealand Police (the Police)) to investigate abuse and will report suspected cases and concerns to these agencies as per the process in this policy.

The Boards of Trustees of Link House and Birthright Waikato will be responsible for the maintenance and annual review of this policy, and the Manager of Single Parent Services Waikato will be responsible for ensuring the actions outlined in this policy are carried out.

This policy provides a broad framework and expectations to protect children, including (but not limited to) staff behaviours in response to actual or suspected child abuse and neglect. It applies to all staff, including volunteers and part-time or temporary roles and contractors. It is intended to protect all children that staff may encounter, including siblings, the children of adults accessing services and any other children encountered by staff as they provide their service.

In addition to guiding staff to make referrals of suspected child abuse and neglect to the statutory agencies – i.e., Child, Youth and Family and the Police – this policy will also help our staff to identify and respond to the needs of the many vulnerable children whose wellbeing is of concern.  Throughout New Zealand statutory and nonstatutory agencies provide a network of mutually supportive services, and it is important for our organisations to work with these to respond to the needs of vulnerable children and families/whānau in a manner proportionate to the level of need and risk. Contact details for agencies and services in our community are provided in a folder and held at our front desk.

This policy applies to all staff, including contractors and volunteers.





  • Our recruitment policy reflects a commitment to child protection by including comprehensive screening procedures. Safety checks will be carried out, as required by the Vulnerable Children Act 2014.
  • Staff within our organisations will work to maintain a good working relationship with child protection agencies and protect children from abuse by consulting with experts with specialist knowledge and providing the necessary training options. We also commit to explore opportunities to work with other providers, including from other sectors, to develop a network of child protection practice in our community.
  • We are committed to maintaining and increasing staff awareness of how to prevent, recognise and respond to abuse through appropriate training. As part of their induction, new staff are made aware of the policy on child protection.
  • Staff will not assume responsibility beyond the level of their experience and training. Our organisation commits to ensure staff have access to the training they need.
  • Our approach to identifying abuse or neglect is guided by the following principles:
    1. We understand that every situation is different and it is important to consider all available information about the child and their environment before reaching conclusions. For example, behavioural concerns may be the result of life events, such as divorce, accidental injury, the arrival of a new sibling etc.
    2. We understand when we are concerned a child is showing signs of potential abuse or neglect we should talk to someone, either a colleague, manager/supervisor or the Designated Person for Child Protection – we shouldn’t act alone.
    3. While there are different definitions of abuse, the important thing is for us to consider overall wellbeing and the risk of harm to the child. It is not so important to be able to categorise the type of abuse or neglect.
    4. It is normal for us to feel uncertain, however, the important thing is that we should be able to recognise when something is wrong, especially if we notice a pattern forming or several signs that make us concerned.
    5. Exposure to intimate partner violence (IPV) is a form of child abuse. There is a high rate of co-occurrence between IPV and the physical abuse of children.
  • We recognise the signs of potential abuse:
    1. Physical signs (e.g., unexplained injuries, burns, fractures, unusual or excessive itching, genital injuries, sexually transmitted diseases).
    2. Developmental delays (e.g., small for their age, cognitive delays, falling behind in school, poor speech and social skills).
    3. Emotional abuse/neglect (e.g., sleep problems, low self-esteem, obsessive behaviour, inability to cope in social situations, sadness/loneliness and evidence of self-harm).
    4. Behavioural concerns (e.g., ageinappropriate sexual interest or play, fear of a certain person or place, eating disorders/substance abuse, disengagement/neediness, aggression).
    5. The child talking about things that indicate abuse (sometimes called an allegation or disclosure).


  • We are aware of the signs of potential neglect:
    1. Physical signs (e.g., presenting unkempt, dirty, without appropriate clothing, underweight).
    2. Developmental delays (e.g., small for their age, cognitive delays, falling behind in school, poor speech and social skills).
    3. Emotional abuse/neglect (e.g., sleep problems, low self-esteem, obsessive behaviour, inability to cope in social situations, sadness/loneliness and evidence of self-harm).
    4. Behavioural concerns (e.g., disengagement/ neediness, eating disorders/substance abuse, aggression).
    5. Neglectful supervision (e.g., out and about unsupervised, left alone, no safe home to return to).
    6. Medical neglect (e.g., persistent nappy rash or skin disorders or other untreated medical issues).
  • Every situation is different and staff will consider all available information about the child and their environment before reaching conclusions. For example, behavioural concerns may be the result of life events, such as divorce, accidental injury, the arrival of a new sibling etc.
  • These organisations will always act on the recommendations of statutory agencies, including Child, Youth and Family and the Police.
  • When we respond to suspected child abuse or any concerning behaviour we write down our observations, impressions and communications in a confidential register. This is kept in the office of the Assistant Manager separate from our other records and access is strictly controlled.
  • Staff involved in cases of suspected child abuse are entitled to have support and should seek supervision for this. Extra sessions can be made available on discussion with the Manager.
  • We will seek advice from Child, Youth and Family and/or the Police before identifying information about an allegation is shared with anyone, other than a supporting colleague or manager.
  • Staff should be aware that:
    1. Under sections 15 and 16 of the Children, Young Persons, and Their Families Act 1989 any person who believes that a child has been or is likely to be, harmed physically, emotionally or sexually or ill-treated, abused, neglected or deprived may report the matter to Child, Youth and Family or the Police and provided the report is made in good faith, no civil, criminal or disciplinary proceedings may be brought against them.
    2. When collecting personal information about individuals, it is important to be aware of the requirements of the privacy principles – i.e., the need to collect the information directly from the individual concerned and when doing so to be transparent about: the purposes for collecting the information and how it will be used; who can see the information; where it is held; what is compulsory/voluntary information; and that people have a right to request access to and correction of their information.
    3. Staff may, however, disclose information under the Privacy Act/Health Information Privacy Code where there is good reason to do so – such as where there is a serious risk to individual health and safety (see privacy principle 11/Code rule 11).
    4. Disclosure about ill-treatment or neglect of a child/young person may also be made to the Police or Child, Youth and Family under sections 15 and 16 of the Children, Young Persons, and Their Families Act 1989.
  • Where staff are required to be alone with a child. i.e in a counselling situation, the following principles should be adhered to:
    1. Wherever possible an open door policy for all spaces should be used (excludes toilets).
    2. Staff should be aware of where all children are at all times.
    3. Visitors should be monitored at all times by staff and volunteers and outside instructors should be monitored by staff.
    4. Counselling should not require physical contact. If activities require one to one physical contact (i.e., playing a game) parents and caregivers should be advised (prior, if possible) and this should be documented on session notes.
    5. The agencies must be informed when staff are alone with a child for counselling. This information can be recorded in the organisational calendar.
    6. Where a child or young person requires assistance, e.g., if they are intellectually or physically disabled, if possible involve the parents/caregivers and outside agencies (in education such as the Ministry of Education’s Special Education group) to assist. If this assistance is not available, ensure that the staff members are aware of the appropriate procedures when giving assistance.
    7. Staff should avoid being alone when transporting a child or young person, unless an emergency requires it. Except in an emergency, children and young people are not to be taken from our organisation’s premises, or from the programme we provide, without written parental consent.
    8. Children should feel free to leave a counselling session at any point. Parents/caregivers must be informed immediately if a child leaves counselling unexpectedly.
    9. No doors within the agency or at any premise where counselling is conducted may be locked.












Child Any child or young person aged under 17 years and who is not married or in a civil union.
Child protection Activities carried out to ensure that children are safe in cases where there is suspected abuse or neglect or are at risk of abuse or neglect.
Disclosure Information given to a staff member by a child, parent or caregiver or a third party in relation to abuse or neglect.
Child, Youth and Family The agency responsible for investigating and responding to suspected abuse and neglect and for providing care and protection to children found to be in need.
New Zealand Police The agency responsible for responding to situations where a child is in immediate danger and for working with Child, Youth and Family in child protection work and investigating cases of abuse or neglect where an offence may have occurred.
Physical abuse Any acts that may result in physical harm of a child or young person. It can be, but is not limited to: bruising, cutting, hitting, beating, biting, burning, causing abrasions, strangulation, suffocation, drowning, poisoning and fabricated or induced illness.
Sexual abuse Any acts that involve forcing or enticing a child to take part in sexual activities, whether or not they are aware of what is happening. Sexual abuse can be, but is not limited to:

·          Contact abuse: touching breasts, genital/anal fondling, masturbation, oral sex, penetrative or non-penetrative contact with the anus or genitals, encouraging the child to perform such acts on the perpetrator or another, involvement of the child in activities for the purposes of pornography or prostitution.

·         Non-contact abuse: exhibitionism, voyeurism, exposure to pornographic or sexual imagery, inappropriate photography or depictions of sexual or suggestive behaviours or comments.

Emotional abuse Any act or omission that results in adverse or impaired psychological, social, intellectual and emotional functioning or development. This can include:

·         Patterns of isolation, degradation, constant criticism or negative comparison to others. Isolating, corrupting, exploiting or terrorising a child can also be emotional abuse.

·         Exposure to family/whānau or intimate partner violence.

Neglect Neglect is the most common form of abuse and although the effects may not be as obvious as physical abuse, it is just as serious. Neglect can be:

·         Physical (not providing the necessities of life like a warm place, food and clothing).

·         Emotional (not providing comfort, attention and love). o Neglectful supervision (leaving children without someone safe looking after them).

·         Medical neglect (not taking care of health needs). o Educational neglect (allowing chronic truancy, failure to enrol in education or inattention to education needs).








Responding to a child when the child discloses abuse


Listen to the child Disclosures by children are often subtle and need to be handled with particular care, including an awareness of the child’s cultural identity and how that affects interpretation of their behaviour and language
Reassure the child Let the child know that they:

Are not in trouble

Have done the right thing

Ask open-ended prompts – eg. “what happened next?” Do not interview the child (in other words, do not ask questions beyond open prompts)

Do not make promises that can’t be kep eg (I will keep you safe now)

If the child is visibly distressed Provide appropriate reassurance and re-engage in appropriate activities under supervision until they are able to participate in ordinary activities
If the child is not in immediate danger Re-involve the child in ordinary activities and explain what you are going to do next.
As soon as possible formally record the disclosure Record:

Word for work, what the child said.

The date, time and who was present.


Recording and notifying Child, Youth and Family of suspected child abuse or neglect:


What process to follow For example Key considerations
Recording Formally record:

Anything said by the child

The date, time, location and the names of any staff that may be relevant

The factual concerns or observations that have led to the suspicion of abuse or neglect (eg. Any physical, behavioural or developmental concerns)

The action taken by your organisation

Any other relevant information

Relevant information can inform future actions
Decision-making Discuss any concern with the manager/assistant manager No decisions should be made in isolation
Notifying authorities Notify Child, Youth and Family promptly if there is a belief that a child has been or is likely to be abused or neglected.

A phone call to the National Contact Centre is the preferred initial contact.

Phone:  0508 326 459

Fax:  09 914 1211


Child, Youth and Family will make the decision to inform the parents or caregivers in consultation with us.  Advise what, if any, immediate action may be appropriate, including referring the concern to the Police.
Following the advice of Child, Youth and Family Child, Youth and Family advice will include what, if any, immediate action may be appropriate, including referring the concern to the Police Child, Youth and Family is responsible for looking into the situation to find out what may be happening, whether our organisation needs to work with the family/whanau or put them in touch with people in their community who can help.
Storing relevant information Securely store

The record of the concern

A record of any related discussion (including copies of correspondence where appropriate)

A record of any advice recieved

The action your organisation took, including any rationale

This concern with any earlier concerns, if the notification is based on an accumulation of concerns rather than a specific incident.

Records assist in identifying patterns.


Allegations or concerns about staff


All matters involving allegations against staff, volunteers or contractors need to be escalated to the Manager and reported to the Trust Boards.


To ensure that the child is kept safe, the organisations may take steps to remove the staff member against whom an allegation has been made from the environment.


The Manager will consult with Child, Youth and Family and/or Policy before taking further actions.


Our organisation commits not to use ‘settlement agreements’ where these are contrary to a culture of child protection.  Some settlement agreements allow a member of staff to agree to resign provided that no disciplinary action is taken, and a future reference is agreed.  Where the conduct at issue concerns that safety or wellbeing of a child, use of such agreements is contrary to a culture of child protection.

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