Social Work Kaupapa

Open Home Foundation has developed a Social Work Kaupapa that reflects its commitment to working collaboratively with families and whānau in a strengths based and culturally appropriate way that prioritizes child safety and promotes family well-being/whānau mauri ora.

+ Factor

The Open Home Foundation social work staff have a common belief in Christ and a commitment to providing a professional social work service that reflects an integration of their faith and professional skills.

Open Home Foundation’s engagement in social service comes from a perspective and long tradition of Christian social action where we place Jesus Christ at the centre of each intervention into the life of the family/whānau. Because of this centrality of Christ, we expect and experience evidence in our social service of God creating a spiritual environment which encourages safety, healing and positive change.

This is the + Factor. The OHF Christian Approach to Social Work has a Christ centred and biblically based world view that includes the following frameworks of social work practice: Signs of Safety; Strengths; Solution Focused; Narrative; and Ecosystem.

Te Aho Takitoru

Te Aho Takitoru supports whānau on a Journey of Hope to discover their rangatiratanga (ability) to make the changes they believe necessary to promote whānau wellbeing.

This journey is taken in three stages:
Powhiri (engagement in collaborative partnership);
Hui (addressing the issues together), and
Waka (undertaking their planned journey of change).

A Kōpū (matrix) of nine Te Ao Māori life principles Tapu, Whakapapa, Tūmanako, Houhanga Rongo, Mauri Īhu, Aroha, Kotahitanga, Mana and Whakapono is used to provide whānau with a framework to shape their perspective about the problem and its solution.

Te Aho Takitoru enables social workers to work with whānau Māori in a culturally appropriate manner using intervention strategies generated from Māori knowledge and world-view.

Signs of Safety

OHF implemented the Signs of Safety as a practice approach in 2006. The Signs of Safety approach to child protection casework was developed through the 1990s in Western Australia. It was created by Dr Andrew Turnell and Steve Edwards, in collaboration with over 150 West Australian child protection workers (CPWs), and is now utilised in jurisdictions in the USA, Canada, the UK, Sweden, The Netherlands, New Zealand and Japan. The approach focuses on the question “How can the worker build partnerships with parents and children in situations of suspected or substantiated child abuse and still deal rigorously with the maltreatment issues?” This strengths-based and safety-focused approach to child protection work is grounded in partnership >and collaboration. It expands the investigation of risk to encompass strengths and Signs of Safety that can be built upon to stabilise and strengthen a child’s and family’s situation.

A format for undertaking comprehensive risk assessment, assessing both danger and strengths/safety, is incorporated within the one-page Signs of Safety assessment protocol. (This form is the only formal protocol used in the model). The approach is designed to be used from commencement through to case closure in order to assist professionals at all stages of the child protection process, whether they be in statutory, hospital, residential or treatment settings. This framework seeks to identify the family/whānau strengths and resources and utilise these to improve safety and manage the concerns or dangers that are identified. Searching for detail is critical. The Social Worker maintains the position that the family/whānau is capable of change and is open minded, approaching them as partners in building safety for their children and young people.

OHF uses the approach within the agency and also has two staff who are licensed to train the approach in New Zealand and internationally. To find out more about Signs of Safety go to

Appreciative Inquiry

Appreciative Inquiry is used in conjunction with Signs of Safety. Appreciative Inquiry explores with the person “what has gone well?” We are all good at talking about what does not work but every family/whānau will have something that is working well and identifying this gives the opportunity to build on their knowledge and experience of the present situation.

Exploring the detail of what is working well can reinforce a different way of responding and behaving towards the family/whānau and reinforces for the family/whānau the position that Open Home Foundation wants to acknowledge what is going well. By focusing on change and searching for the detail through the use of appreciative inquiry, social workers will work with the family/whānau towards establishing obtainable goals and building collaboration.

Appreciative Inquiry is also used in supervision and working with OHF foster parents.

Trauma Informed

The Open Home Foundation strives to work with children/tamariki, families and foster parents, and staff in a trauma informed way. This way of working is based on the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics which was developed by Dr Bruce Perry and his team at the Child Trauma Academy. The Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics is a developmentally-informed, biologically-respectful approach to working with at-risk children/tamariki. It not a specific therapeutic technique or intervention; it is a way to organise a child/tamariki’s history and current functioning. The goal of this approach is to structure assessment of a child/tamariki, articulation of the primary problems, identification of key strengths and the application of interventions (educational, enrichment and therapeutic) in a way that will help families, social workers, teachers, therapists and related professionals best meet the needs of the child.

In Crisis or worried about children?

In an emergency, ring the New Zealand Police on 111

To report urgent concerns about a child's or young person’s safety or wellbeing ring Oranga Tamariki 0508 FAMILY (0508 326 459)

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