Children’s Act 2014 – requirements for schools and kura

Schools, kura and their contracted providers must safety check all their children's workers and must have a child protection policy. These are requirements of the Children’s Act (CA).

Renaming of the Act

As of December 2018, the Vulnerable Children Act 2014 was renamed the Children’s Act 2014. All guidance and resources on this page should be read as Children’s Act still and provides current information. 

Vulnerable Children's Act Guide

The Vulnerable Children's Act Guide ('the Guide') helps you navigate the requirements of the Act. It brings together information and resources already published and complements the advice and guidelines produced by the Children’s Action Plan.

The VCA Guide in full [PDF, 5.2 MB]

Quick guide to resources within the VCA Guide

Overview of the Planning Tool — page 12 (external link)

VCA Scope of the Standard Safety Checking Environment — page 16 (external link)

Relieving teachers — page 20 (external link)

Trainees on practicum — page 23 (external link)

What checks do I need to undertake for adults coming onto my school? — page 27 (external link)

Safety checking for new and existing employees — page 35 (external link)

Child protection policies

From 1 July 2016 all schools and kura need to have a child protection policy in place.

Child protection policies encourage early identification and referral of suspected child abuse or neglect. They also help build a strong culture of child protection in your school or kura.

Key requirements of a child protection policy

  • It needs to be written down and in use.
  • Say how suspected neglect and abuse will be identified and reported.
  • Be reviewed every 3 years.
  • Available on school websites or on request.

Child Protection Policies — VCA Guide (external link)

Safety checking

All children’s workers need to be safety checked every 3 years. This includes both staff employed and staff engaged in your school or kura, whose work involves regular or overnight contact with children. They're classified as either core workers or non core workers.

Core workers

Core workers are either in sole charge or have primary responsibility or authority over the child or children in their care. Schools and kura are now unable to employ a core worker who has a specified criminal conviction unless they hold a Core Worker Exemption (CWE).

Workforce restriction and the core worker exemption — page 36, VCA Guide (external link)

TimeframesKey requirements
From 1 July 2015 Safety checking of all new core workers (even if they are not new to the employer but are newly appointed to a children’s worker role) must be safety checked before they start in the role.
By 1 July 2018 Safety checking of all existing core workers

Visit the Oranga Tamariki website for more information about the:

  • Workforce Restriction, and
  • Core Worker Exemption.

Children's Act requirements - Oranga Tamariki (external link)

Non-core workers

Non-core workers have regular but limited child contact and are never alone with children. 

TimeframesKey requirements
From 1 July 2016 Safety checking of all new non-core workers before they are appointed to the role
By 1 July 2019 Safety checking of all existing non- core workers

Safety checking people in your service or school

What checks you need to do on people in your service or school (external link)

Safety checking steps

Identity confirmation

  • What do you need to do to ensure that someone is who they say they are?

Information about previous criminal convictions (if any) (external link)

  • A police vet will identify any criminal convictions that would prevent them working at your school.

Police vetting for schools and kura Māori

Other information (external link)

 

  • Is there anything in their previous work history that identifies any concerns (if new employee)?
  • Information from organisation with which they have a professional membership, licensing or registration authority
  • Referee checks (if new employee)
  • Interview (if a new employee)

Risk assessment (external link)

 

  • Does the person pose any risk to the safety of children?
  • What do we need to do to make sure they are safe to work with children?

Periodic safety checks (external link)

 

  • How do we ensure ongoing commitment to child safety?
  • page 33

Volunteers don't need to be safety checked under the Vulnerable Children Act 2014 or the Education Act 1989.

Your school and kura can choose whether to safety check their volunteers (or complete components of a safety check). This may be guided by your own child protection and/or health and safety policies. 

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