A survey of Oranga Tamariki caregivers Published: September 11, 2019

At a glance caregiver survey
11 Sep 2019
11 Sep 2019
Regression analysis based on Caregiver Survey data
11 Sep 2019


To make sure our caregivers have what they need to provide safe, stable, loving homes for tamariki and rangatahi, we ran a survey for 4,000 Oranga Tamariki caregivers and respite caregivers who provide care to children.



The Oranga Tamariki Caregiver Recruitment and Support Service commissioned this survey in November 2018. The Caregiver Service worked collaboratively with the Oranga Tamariki Evidence Centre and Nielsen to ensure the survey focussed on areas where the findings would provide the most valuable insights into how Oranga Tamariki can improve the caregiver experience and journey with the Ministry.

We used a census approach for the survey, contacting all eligible caregivers using a mixed methodology. If Oranga Tamariki had an email address for a caregiver then the caregiver received a pre notification letter, followed by an invitation to an online survey and two reminders. Those caregivers without an email address received a hard copy survey in the mail and one reminder letter. A total of 3,848 caregivers received a survey; with 1,283 completing it (85% of these completed it online). This resulted in an overall response rate of 32.5%, however when ineligible caregivers (incorrect addresses etc.) are excluded from the calculations the response rate increases to 34.5%. Whānau caregivers represent nearly two thirds of the caregiver population on the Oranga Tamariki database. The overall response rate for whānau caregivers was 26.2% and for non-whānau it was 44.0%.

The survey data was weighted to ensure that the sample was representative of the population of caregivers in the Oranga Tamariki caregiver database in terms of their relationship to their Oranga Tamariki child (whānau/non-whānau) and ethnicity (Māori/non-Māori/not recorded).

An Australian survey commissioned by the Australian Government Department of Social Services provided the starting point for the questionnaire. Nielsen worked through the project objectives and the Australian questionnaire in consultation with the Oranga Tamariki Evidence Centre team.

Nielsen also interviewed two caregivers by telephone and conducted five cognitive face-to-face pre-tests, to ensure the questionnaire encompassed all relevant issues from the New Zealand caregiver perspective. The questionnaire took an average of 31 minutes to complete online.

Regression Analysis:

To understand the drivers of satisfaction we undertook regression analyses. Regression analysis is a statistical process for analysing the relationship between two or more variables. It helps to understand the importance or impact of a ‘driver’ (the independent variable) by measuring its contribution to explaining variance in another variable (the dependent variable). Each independent variable is assigned a score ranging from zero to one - the closer to one, the more important/larger impact it has on the dependent variable.

The first dependent variable was Q8: Overall, how satisfied are you with the support Oranga Tamariki provides you as a caregiver when you are caring for children through Oranga Tamariki. The independent variables came from the other questions in the survey (approximately 60 used in total). For this project we used multiple linear regression with a stepwise approach. The initial models that were created had a number of variables which were correlated. Therefore, the models were refined by removing predictors with high correlations and re-running the stepwise regression.

This resulted in a number of attributes being removed and replaced with an overall measure of a similar theme. The same group of attributes was used for the Q8 regressions for each of the subgroups. We then undertook separate regression models to explain the overall satisfaction with the child’s social worker, the handling by Oranga Tamariki of the process to become a caregiver and the overall satisfaction with the caregiver’s social worker. We used these  overall’ metrics as the dependent variables and the related ‘sub-attributes’ as the independent variables, for caregivers overall and for each of the subgroups.

The quadrant charts that follow represent the impact of each attribute/driver on a respondent’s satisfaction with that aspect of support from Oranga Tamariki. The importance or impact of a driver on satisfaction is shown on the vertical axis (from the regression model). Respondents’ satisfaction ratings with each driver are shown on the horizontal axis. The chart is then divided into four quadrants; Priority for Improvement, Secondary Priority, Strengths and Maintenance.

This allows us to see which aspects are more important but rated lower (Priority for Improvement) i.e. this is where Oranga Tamariki should focus, in order to improve satisfaction. It also shows which aspects are relatively less important and rated lower (i.e. secondary priorities - the next areas to focus on), which are strengths (should be kept at a high level) and which aspects should be maintained (i.e. currently performing well on but are relatively less important so need to keep doing at the current level).

Key Results

We used a census approach for the survey, contacting a total of 3,848 caregivers of which 1,283 responded. The survey data was weighted to ensure the sample was representative of our caregivers in terms of their relationship to the child in their care (whānau or non-whānau) and their ethnicity (Māori/non-Māori/not recorded).

The results show that we need to do better for many of our caregivers. Mixed feelings are common throughout the measures in the survey, suggesting inconsistency of support or that the caregiver’s satisfaction often depends on specific situations and team members.

Five key pieces of feedback gained from the survey findings are:

  • Many caregivers told us they don’t feel valued or listened to
  • Caregivers’ experiences with social workers make a big difference to them
  • Caregivers often feel they don’t have enough information or communication from us
  • Many caregivers were satisfied with the process of becoming a caregiver, but some found it frustrating
  • Some caregivers are struggling financially as a result of being a caregiver and improvements should be made to the support they receive.

We already have a significant amount of work underway to better support our caregivers.

  • In March our new Caregiver Recruitment & Support Service got up and running. This means we now have a team of people who are solely dedicated to working with and supporting our caregivers. We recently welcomed the first group of new Caregiver Social Workers to the team which means we have more people on hand to support our caregivers when they need it. We also have a Caregiver Experience and Insights Manager to keep us focused on what we can do better to meet caregiver needs. 
  • Tamariki Māori are disproportionately represented in care, and our Care Teams are working closely with our iwi partners and kaupapa Māori providers to find and support caregivers from the child’s whānau, hapū or iwi.
  • With the National Care Standards now in effect, we’re working hard to make sure caregiver assessments and support plans are up to date and useful for caregivers and the children they care for.
  • We’re leading a review into the financial assistance provided to caregivers, and have started to make improvements to the caregiver journey from the application process right through to ongoing training and support.
Page last modified: 10 Nov 2023