Child protection policies

Child protection policies encourage early identification and referral of vulnerable children and help build a strong culture of child protection across a workplace.

This page contains information on the child protection policy changes in the Vulnerable Children Act 2014 and how to write high quality child protection policies.



New requirements under the Vulnerable Children Act 2014

Sometimes children’s vulnerability to abuse or neglect goes unrecognised. Under the Vulnerable Children Act 2014, the following organisations must have child protection policies, review them every three years, and make them available on their websites:

  • Seven prescribed government agencies – the Ministries of Education; Health; Justice; Social Development; Business, Innovation and Employment; Te Puni Kōkiri; and New Zealand Police.
  • District health boards (DHBs).
  • Schools – including private schools, and Partnership Schools | Kura Hourua – from 30 June 2016.

These organisations must also require that all providers of children’s services they contract or fund have child protection policies as well.

The requirement for child protection policies applies “as soon as is practicable”. State services will breach their statutory obligations if they don’t meet the requirements and contracted or funded providers could be held to account.

If you’re one of these organisations, or contracted or funded by them to provide services to children, you need to either review your existing child protection policy or write a new one.

If you are unsure about your obligations we suggest contacting your funding or regulating body for advice.

Organisations that don’t receive government funding should also consider following the same guidance and advice on this website to meet the same high standards.

The requirements above are summarised on a poster [PDF, 157 KB].

Guidelines on writing high quality policies

As a minimum, child protection policies need to contain provisions on identifying and reporting child abuse and neglect. [PDF, 3.1 MB]

The child protection policy guidelines Safer Organisations, Safer Children [PDF, 1.1 MB] contain advice to support organisations in the children’s workforce to write high quality policies.

This document also contains templates and example policies, as well as practical advice on implementing and reviewing policies.

High quality policies include:

  • A purpose statement about why the policy is needed.
  • Clarity about who the policy applies to – workers, visitors, clients etc.
  • Clearly stated principles for making decisions concerning child protection.
  • Definitions of key terms and concepts.
  • Detailed guidance on identifying possible abuse or neglect.
  • Specific instructions on how to respond to suspected abuse or neglect.
  • Guidelines on how to respond to disclosures made by children.
  • Guidelines on what to do if concerns are raised about workers.
  • Guidance for workers about confidentiality and information sharing.
  • On-going commitment to appropriate training, development and supervision in child protection.

We also suggest asking around your professional networks as some may have helpful advice to share with you, or have example policies.

The Vulnerable Children’s Hub

When writing a policy, you should keep in mind that pathways for referring a vulnerable child are changing.

The Vulnerable Children’s Hub is a contact point for frontline professionals and practitioners in some New Zealand communities to raise concerns about vulnerable children whose needs are not serious enough to contact Child, Youth and Family or the Police.

Learn more about the Vulnerable Children’s Hub.


If you would like to know more about child protection, you can access free training and e-learning here; (external link) . Safeguarding Children Initiative is a registered charitable organisation based in Nelson which aims to reduce child abuse in New Zealand by delivering free evidence-based seminars for participants.

Children's Teams Child Protection Policies

All Children’s Teams sites are required to develop a child protection policy.

This living document will describe the policies and processes that ensure the children involved in the Children’s Team are kept safe.

Once in place, the Child Protection Polices are subject to regular reviews, to ensure that they remain up to date and practical to use, and that an evolving understanding of best practice is incorporated into them.

Below you can find copies of each Children’s Team’s child protection policy: