Transition needs survey

2018 Transitions Cohort Needs Assessment
08 Nov 2018


In 2018 we sought to better understand the needs of young people in care who are at risk of not making a successful transition to independence. The purpose of this was to help us design new services.



We designed the survey to find out more about the 40% of 15–17 year olds currently in the care of Oranga Tamariki identified as at particular risk once after leaving care. We captured detailed information on their needs and circumstances to help us develop or improve services to meet those needs.

Stage One

We assessed the level of need of 948 young persons aged 15–17 years old:

  • who were currently in the Custody of the Chief Executive of Oranga Tamariki, and
  • who had been (or were likely to remain) in care for three months or more.

Stage Two (this report)

  • We collected information from social workers who were personally familiar with a sample of the young people assessed as high or very high needs.
  • We gathered detailed information on their individual circumstances, specific needs and gaps in the services for these young people.

Key Results

We gathered a wide range of valuable insights on these young people identified as having high or very high needs. 

  • Over a third were not in regular education, training or employment.
  • Four in five have a trusted (non-professional) adult in their lives but only 3 in 5 have a trusted adult in their lives who is seen as a positive influence.
  • Over half exhibit behaviours that put themselves or others at risk of harm at least once a week.
  • Four in five had diagnosed or suspected mental health needs – with half the young people suffering from trauma related stress disorders. Half of these young people had a disability and half of them had substance abuse issues. Two out of three of these young people had multiple health related needs.
  • Services to meet the needs these young people were not always available and there were indications that young people living in rural areas may be disadvantaged by their location, especially when compared to young people in major urban centres.
  • A third of  the young people were thought likely to want to remain with their current caregiver, or to be supported with an alternative caregiver once they aged out of care.
  • Over half the young people were thought to have whānau or family with ongoing complex dynamics, which may present a further barrier to the young person transitioning to independence.
Page last modified: 20 Nov 2023