Newsroom can reveal the state’s child protection agency has been placing children with an unapproved caregiver who previously assaulted a child in her care.

An approved Oranga Tamariki caregiver who assaulted a child in her care last year and had her caregiver status revoked is still looking after children through the state agency on a regular basis.

Newsroom understands an Oranga Tamariki social worker, who attends the same church as the caregiver and her husband, has placed two siblings with the couple as respite care for two nights approximately every three weeks.

Because they are no longer approved caregivers the couple cannot be paid the caregiver allowance.

A person with close knowledge of the children involved told Newsroom the social worker’s manager and supervisor support the regular respite placement by way of providing grocery vouchers, and that the placement is not officially recorded.

Oranga Tamariki guidelines are clear that children should not be placed in the care of someone who has confirmed allegations of abuse, neglect or harm against them and whose status as a caregiver has been revoked as a result.

The incident of harm against the child in their care happened in 2020, when one of the caregiver couple slapped the child across the face.

The woman admitted to the assault, an internal investigation was completed and the assault was confirmed by both the caregiver couple and the child.

Her caregiver status was then cancelled and has not been renewed.

The woman was also found to have previously restrained the child by holding the child down.

It is understood the couple had originally sought to have the child on a permanent Home for Life placement.

Newsroom has also been told the same social worker has a number of children on her caseload placed with other members from the same church.

Newsroom gave Oranga Tamariki specific details of the case and asked why its staff at a regional office were still placing children in the care of unapproved caregivers who had previously been found to have assaulted a child.

Glynis Sandland, Oranga Tamariki’s deputy chief executive services for children and families, told Newsroom the agency was taking the “allegations and concerns” seriously, and that a “thorough investigation” would be conducted.

Melanie Reid is Newsroom's lead investigations editor.

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