Core competencies

This page contains information on work to develop a national Children’s Workforce Core Competency Framework.

 Fundamental to achieving better outcomes for vulnerable children is changing how we work. The children’s workforce needs to work together in partnership with families and whānau of children who are vulnerable, so that these children thrive, belong and achieve.

The Children’s Action Plan contains a number of initiatives to build workforce capability. One of these is the development of national Children’s Workforce Core Competency Framework.

The Core Competency Framework won’t replace existing specialist and professional standards and frameworks. Instead it will sit alongside and complement these in a way that unifies and reinforces common understandings and ways of working.

It will contain descriptors of competency for practitioners, managers and leaders within the children’s workforce, and will create a supportive and enabling environment for effective children’s service.

The Core Competency Framework will be implemented as part of a comprehensive children’s workforce action plan, recognising the key roles and responsibilities of employers, government agencies, and local and national leaders.

Feedback from the first phase of consultation, which was carried out in 2015, has informed a draft Framework. A second phase of consultation, using this draft Framework as a starting point, is being done in early 2016, and will inform further framework development. Read more about the wide consultation.

Benefits of having a Core Competency Framework

We have identified a number of ways the Core Competency Framework could benefit the children’s workforce and deliver better outcomes for vulnerable children:

  • Identifying the fundamental competencies necessary for a safe and competent children’s workforce, so we have increased confidence that every children’s worker has the basic skills, knowledge and values they need to address the needs of vulnerable children.
  • Creating a shared foundation upon which specialist knowledge and expertise is built, helping workers to more easily change roles, work in a range of contexts, and share skills, knowledge and values across different parts of the children’s workforce.
  • Identifying what is common across the workforce, so that we can use the same language, build trust, and appreciate diverse contributions when working together.
  • Providing a common framework to use when discussing the capability of the workforce (at an individual, organisation and system-level) to respond effectively to need.
  • Enabling on-going changes in the child and family protection and support system (e.g., changes to Child, Youth and Family; the introduction of Children’s Teams) by supporting children’s workers to contribute to these initiatives (e.g., by making effective referrals, or contributing to a whole of child assessment).

Implementation of the Core Competency Framework

To realise its value, the Core Competency Framework will need to be implemented in partnership with our key sector agencies and stakeholders from across the children’s workforce.

The draft Core Competency Framework contains a number of competencies which represent significant change for parts of the workforce. For this reason, we are taking time to assess our options for implementing the Framework, and no decisions have been made at this point.

The Children’s Action Plan describes a multi-faceted implementation approach that includes qualifications, minimum standards, professional development, and legislation, and we will be exploring each of these options as we develop and test the competencies

However, we also recognise that diversity in practices and behaviours is necessary and desirable, and the Core Competency Framework must be flexible enough to translate to different practice environments.

Who the Children’s Workforce Core Competencies might be relevant for

The White Paper for Vulnerable Children defines the children’s workforce as “everyone in organisations working with and for children and young people – that is, those who plan, manage, and deliver services (including volunteers who have charge of children)”.

This definition includes more people than are traditionally thought of as ‘working with children’ as it also includes volunteers, managers and organisational leaders.

Developing the Framework for a wider audience means that the core competencies can better support a ‘whole of system’ approach to building capability. For example, competencies for managers and leaders can build organisational capability to enable and support frontline practitioners, and drive the development cultures that put children at the centre.

The draft framework, developed to support the second phase of consultation, takes an expansive approach to scoping the competencies, using five tiers to capture the breadth of the White Paper definition:

  • A foundational tier for all members of the children’s workforce who may have the opportunity to identify and respond to the needs of children through their work, or to support or enable others to do so.
  • A practitioner tier for all members of the children’s workforce who have regular direct contact with children.
  • An advanced practitioner tier, for those with senior practice positions in organisations providing services to children.
  • A management tier.
  • An organisational leadership and governance tier.