Outcomes of the Reconnect Care & Therapy Programme

The Reconnect Care & Therapy Programme assists 11-16 year-old young people with severe behavioural and emotional issues. Providing residential, educational and psychological services, the programme works to reunite rangatahi and whanau under a system of care that provides positive pathways to reintegrate the family unit.

Boasting a 96% education placement rate by graduation, Reconnect Care & Therapy clients are guided along the programme by their caregiver and clinical case manager. Referred from Child, Youth and Family (CY&F) via hub operations throughout New Zealand, the 3-to-12 month placement begins with a considered pairing of client caregiver and clinical case manager.

Options for long-term accommodation for the young person can range from one of the programme’s 21 permanent caregiver households provided through the Reconnect Caregiver Service, through to a suitable member of the whanau as determined by CY&F. Alternatively, the programme offers placements in one of two group homes in Manurewa and Takanini, which are operated by a combination of house parents and agency staff. These placements are reserved for young men on the programme who present a higher risk to community safety.

After a goal-setting meeting between the young person, their family, crucial stakeholders and CY&F, a number of goals are discussed and agreed upon for the young person and their family. To achieve these, young people on the programme are fully assessed by the treatment team to determine the level and type of assistance they need.

The Child and Adolescent Functional Assessment Scale (CAFAS) tests young people in eight of their life domains to show the level of functioning they possess at home, school, in the community, and in behaviour towards others, as well as identifying any substance abuse or self-harming tendencies.

Family functional assessment scales undertaken for both single and dual-parent families determine the family dynamic, while a daily point system, rewards the young person’s good behaviour at home and school. These tools track the progress of the young person in everyday life.

A clinical scorecard developed for the young person from these assessments helps keep them on track based on a Results-Based Accountability (RBA) framework. Regular tracking of the scorecard provides a way to collect, report, and articulate the young person’s progress, offering a solid tool for determining discharge dates with CY&F, the Reconnect Board, and whanau stakeholders.

Improving the family dynamic for the young person’s future home is a crucial part of the Reconnect Care & Therapy programme. After developing the young person’s scorecard, fortnightly sessions with the client’s family are coordinated by a clinical case manager, who records any progress and future goals. Family situations involving parents in prison, care, remote locations or with disabilities can be managed by phone or video conferencing by the clinical case manager, while Reconnect’s whanau resource specialist can help teach the basics of budgeting, advocacy and small steps towards family life goals.

For whanau with cultural needs, the programme’s cultural advisor can also offer Tikanga-based support and guidance. The strengthening of the family unit, especially for young people on a residential programme, is crucial to their future success.

Along with improving family dynamics, the Reconnect Care & Therapy programme offers care and protection and youth justice support.

All Reconnect Caregiver Service’s 21 caregivers are specifically trained for the young person’s needs, having completed Specialist Caregiving, Fostering Kids New Zealand, First Aid and Non-Violent Crisis Intervention training.

In the two group homes in Manurewa and Takanini, round-the-clock care and protection for young men within certain bail conditions can be provided. The programme also assists with the completion of court orders and Family Group Conferencing (FGC) plans, in consultation with CY&F and other stakeholders.

Clinical case managers on the programme act as the central point of contact for this process, sharing incidents of significance, monthly service and discharge reports, and financial statements from funds received. As required for the young person’s progress, the clinical case manager also attends meetings with CY&F, the courts and FGC, keeping all parties informed and the RBA-led goals of the young person and their family on track.

Reintegration into education is a key part of Reconnect’s holistic Care & Therapy programme. Working with the Ministry of Education and the Northern Health School’s Te Kahu Toi unit in Auckland, the client is reintroduced to mainstream schooling as soon as possible, with the help of wrap-around support. To ensure the young person is kept on a positive track outside of school hours, the Reconnect Care & Therapy activities coordinator assists the young person in pro-social community activities after school, during the weekend and on school holidays. The young person’s daily point system also helps them stay focused on their goals whilst tracking their behaviour.

Typically spanning 13 months, the Reconnect Care & Therapy programme offers a comprehensive support system to families struggling with their young person and whanau dynamic. Guiding the young person and their family through their goals with the help of a clinical case manager, caregiver, psychologist, cultural advisor, education provider, activities coordinator and whanau resource specialist, the young person is given the best chances for success in partnership with their family, school and CY&F.

Case Example 1

Hemi* was referred to the Reconnect Care & Therapy programme due to re-offending in the community, school truancy and care concerns in regards to his parents. He stayed with the programme for 18 months, first in the Tuakua residential home and then with the Sen family, on a one-to-one caregiver placement. His whanau became involved in the programme, which really helped his progress. When he first started the programme, he attended a specialist school before transitioning into a Youth Guarantee programme for Future Skills with Carpentry. Since graduating from the programme, he has completed a course in carpentry from the Manukau Institute of Technology. He is currently gaining work experience and was featured in the Manukau Courier for his progress.

Case Example 2

One young man entered the programme due to disruptive behaviour at school, which led to his exclusion and disruptive behaviour in the family home with his mother, including aggression towards his siblings. He was engaged in school and was placed in the specialist school and transitioned to mainstream schooling. Intensive work with his mother and father started, and on graduating from the programme, the parents were able to discuss and talk with their children in regard to behaviour expectations, moving to a shared care arrangement the young man was able to maintain a school placement and has since developed good relationships with his parents and siblings.

Case Example 3

Twins John* and Joseph* entered the programme due to behavioural concerns which included aggressive and disruptive behaviour in the home which meant they were unable to attend school. Academically, the twins were well under their age group or expected level of functioning.

The twins first lived in a residential home, before quickly transitioning to a one-to-one-caregiver home with Mrs Crooke. During the programme, they were provided with good boundaries, one-to-one therapy, and family therapy with their mother and wider family. They were supported to move from the specialist school to a mainstream school environment in which they thrived. An assessment during their placement showed they had a learning disability, which allowed appropriate supports to be implemented to support their learning. On graduating, the twins went back to their family and have continued to obtain and work towards their Level 4 NZCEA qualifications in Hospitality/Cheffing and diploma in Youth Work respectively.

*Names have been changed

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