This page contains information about the Vulnerable Children’s Hub.
To refer a child or find out how, click here.
The Vulnerable Children’s Hub (The Hub) is a contact point for frontline professionals and practitioners in Hamilton, Canterbury and Counties Manukau to raise concerns about vulnerable children whose needs are not serious enough to contact Child, Youth and Family or the Police.
The Hub enables early identification of vulnerable children and takes proactive, preventative steps to address the needs of the child and their family/whānau.
The Hub currently supports the Hamilton, Canterbury and Counties Manukau Children’s Teams.
Click on the image below to watch a video about the Vulnerable Children's Hub.
When contacted, social workers in The Hub will first make a balanced assessment of the risk to the child in order to determine if an immediate referral to Child, Youth and Family is required. Emergency or critical calls received by The Hub are forwarded straight to Child, Youth and Family or to emergency services like the Police.
The Hub uses an Approved Information Sharing Agreement (AISA) and an information sharing system (ViKI) to support this process. The information will be stored securely and only provided to, and accessed by, authorised staff with appropriate access rights that are consistent with the legislation, the AISA, and any consent that has been obtained.
For referrals not requiring a Child, Youth and Family or emergency services response, the focus is on the quality of the conversation with the referrer/ practitioner who has a relationship with the child or their family/whānau. These conversations, plus any relevant information available from partner agencies, help The Hub social workers evaluate the nature of a child’s needs and assist an informed and prompt referral to the right service.
The child’s identified needs determine the Hub’s response. This may be a recommendation to a non-government organisation, a universal service provider, or a Children’s Team.
In all cases, The Hub securely records the contact, any details gathered and the result. This information helps to build a picture of a child and their family/whānau. The Hub also lets the original referrer know its recommended response.
Referrals to a Children’s Team see the same information flow from The Hub through to the Children’s Team. The information informs the Child’s Plan developed by the Lead Professional and supported by identified service providers. The Children’s Team begins working with the family once they have their consent to participate. This combined information contributes to a rich source of information about the risk, needs, and results achieved for the child and their family/whānau.
Professionals and practitioners in the Hamilton, Canterbury and Counties Manukau areas can contact and refer concerns to The Hub.
The Hub is currently not open to the public or to areas outside of Hamilton, Canterbury and Counties Manukau.
Everyone else should continue to contact Child, Youth and Family, or government agencies and non-government organisations, as appropriate, if they have a concern about a child.
We want to learn from this new approach, and believe that the best way to do this is to start with frontline practitioners who are very well placed to understand the nature of risks to a child and the Children’s Team context.
We believe that it will be more effective to publicise The Hub to the general public once we understand what the national model will be.
This is a new way for us to work and we will learn from testing The Hub in Hamilton, Canterbury and Counties Manukau.
We ask that only professionals and practitioners working with children in Hamilton, Canterbury or Counties Manukau contact The Hub during this time. However, should a professional or practitioner from outside of these areas contact The Hub, The Hub social workers will endeavour to assist the professional to find the right service for the child and their family/whānau.
If there is an emergency or crisis, or there’s concern that a child is being physically or sexually abused, you should continue to report it to Child, Youth and Family or the Police immediately. The Hub will also immediately escalate such cases.
The Hub gathers information from the conversation with the frontline practitioner(s) who have a relationship with the child or their family/whānau. The conversations, plus any relevant information available from government agencies help evaluate the nature of the risk and make an informed and prompt referral to the right service.
It is best practice for anyone that wishes to make a referral to The Hub to have a conversation with the family first, however, families are more likely to engage with a service if they have been made aware of the referral. The law, however, recognises that information can be shared without consent.
The Hub aims to help ensure that a vulnerable child receives the support that they need, and should not be seen as threatening. The aim is to help children who have complex needs and are at risk of harm, before things become more serious. Therefore we expect that a front-line practitioner talks with the family about their concerns and options that may be available to help reduce the risk to the child and meet their needs.
If the frontline professional does not feel able to have this conversation with the family, they should still get in touch with The Hub if they have concerns about a child. Section 15 of the Children, Young Persons, and Their Families Act 1989 enables information to be shared in this situation.
Hamilton, Canterbury and Counties Manukau provide the opportunity to bring together all the supporting components of the Children’s Action Plan needed to support a Children’s Team. This includes The Hub, the AISA and the Vulnerable Kids Information System (ViKI), a web-based information sharing and case management system.
We are continuously monitoring and improving The Hub and a formal, independent evaluation is currently underway.