Lead Professionals and Child's Action Network

Children and all who care for them are supported to make courageous decisions.

This page contains information on the roles and responsibilities of the Child’s Action Network and Lead Professionals, and sets out how we work together better outcomes for children, their family and whānau.


Working together differently

We know from practice that a child and their family and whānau who require support from a number of service sectors and professionals often receive fragmented and sometimes contradictory services such as:

  • Children and their family/whānau being overwhelmed by the number of agencies involved with them.
  • Children falling below a key agency’s threshold for support and not getting the help they need
  • Children not receiving an effective, joined-up approach or integrated service response.
  • Services delivered in a way that creates difficulties for families; for example, transport or childcare required to meet appointments.
  • Children receiving short-term, inconsistent or conflicting support.

This fragmentation causes confusion for everyone involved. It can cause a delay in children and families/whānau receiving the support they need, and lead to poorer outcomes for children.

Within Children’s Teams, Child’s Action Network members and Lead Professionals play a significant role in providing a child-centred, coordinated and integrated response.

Lead Professional

The Lead Professional is the main contact for the child and their family/whānau throughout the journey of being supported by the Children’s Team. Lead Professionals ensure the child and their family and whānau receive coordinated services and supports, involves them in all decisions and acts as the point of contact for them, the CAN and other supports and services.

The Lead Professional:

  • acts as a single point of contact that the child and their family and whānau can trust, and who is able to support them in making choices and in navigating their way through the system
  • ensures the child is at the centre of everything and the child’s voice is heard
  • coordinates the CAN and the completion of the common assessment, Child’s Plans and reviews
  • ensures the child receives appropriate interventions which are well-planned, regularly reviewed and effectively delivered
  • reduces overlap and inconsistency from other practitioners.

Who can be a Lead Professional?

Many professionals and practitioners in the children’s workforce, both government and non-government, can take on the Lead Professional role. The base skills, competence and knowledge required to carry it out are similar regardless of professional background. The role has been defined by the functions and skills rather than by particular professional or practitioner groupings.

It is expected that the person carrying out this role will be drawn from the range of practitioners who are currently delivering support and services. This could include (but is not limited to) family social workers, youth workers, health professionals, social services in schools and education roles. The person who takes on the role will vary according to the specific needs of the child.

Assignment of a Lead Professional

Lead Professionals are part of the Children’s Team but continue to be employed by their home agency or organisation.

When a child is accepted into the Children’s Team, the next step is to assign a Lead Professional. They become the main contact for the child and their family/whānau throughout the journey of being supported by the Children’s Team.

The Children’s Team Panel assigns a Lead Professional based on the best fit for meeting a child’s needs. Where possible, consideration is given to professionals who have an existing relationship with and/or a preference of the child and family/whānau. The Children’s Team Director will then approach the service provider manager to confirm their employee’s availability and assignment. The Lead Professional’s own manager stays involved, providing supervision and oversight.

When there is more than one child from a family/whānau being supported, the preference is for the same Lead Professional to be assigned to all siblings, to enable a whole of family approach whilst recognising the uniqueness of each child.

Child’s Action Network

The Child’s Action Network (CAN) is made up of the child, their parents/caregiver’s and those practitioners and professionals involved with providing care, support and services. Membership of the CAN is flexible and will change as services working with the child and their family and whānau are needed.

Children’s Teams are not a new service; they bring together existing services and resources and work differently to get better results. The Children’s Team approach means that each CAN member will continue to provide the support their agency or service is set up to deliver. However, being a member of a CAN provides them with access to greater resources and allows them to coordinate more effective services with other professionals and practitioners who are all working to support the same children and family/whānau.

One member of the CAN takes the role of Lead Professional. Together the CAN delivers a co-ordinated assessment and response to ensure intensive, timely and effective support to meet the needs of a child and family/whānau.

Child’s Action Network Responsibilities

The members of the CAN are jointly responsible for developing and delivering a package of solution-focused support to meet the needs of the child and achieve the intended outcomes identified through the assessment.

The Lead Professional facilitates the CAN to ensure that these activities are well coordinated and communicated to the child, family and whānau.

For each child, CAN members are responsible for:

  • providing evidence and analysis to support their contribution to the common assessment
  • contributing actively to solving problems or resolving difficulties
  • delivering the activities they agreed to carry out as part of the Child’s Plan
  • keeping the other members of the team informed about progress in their area of responsibility
  • supporting the Lead Professional by keeping them informed, providing updates promptly when requested and attending meetings
  • supporting the Lead Professional by sharing information, offering guidance and advice.

Support available for CAN members and Lead Professionals

Practitioners and professionals working as part of the Children’s Teams will be supported to understand the practice framework, key tools and processes. This will include a mixture of eLearning modules, the Children’s Team Operations Manual and guides, and training workshops.

In addition, each home agency manager will need to review their staff member’s development plan and identify any training needs as well as determine appropriate supervision arrangements.


How to get involved

Have a talk with your manager about getting involved with your local Children’s Team.  Managers and Supervisors play a significant role in supporting their staff to work with a Children’s Team.

You can also contact your local Children’s Team.