Children are sleeping in motels because there aren't enough caregivers in the community.

Over the past four weeks, the average number of children sleeping in motels in Rotorua is sitting at about two, but that number fluctuates daily.

As at March 31 there were 105 Rotorua children living in an "out of home" placement.

Oranga Tamariki Bay of Plenty regional manager Tayelva Petley said every tamariki who came into its care was placed in a home where they would be "safe, loved, valued and where they had a sense of belonging".


"In emergency situations or where a placement is needed but no suitable placement is available, Oranga Tamariki may place a child or young person in temporary accommodation.

"Temporary accommodation such as a motel is only used for young people in extraordinary circumstances and as a temporary measure."

She said, in most cases, placements were with a member of a child's extended whānau, hapu or iwi or with a family they were not born into.

"Caregivers provide a range of different types of care."

In some situations, tamariki might be placed in group home settings or care and protection residences, according to their range of needs.

Some children have been staying in motels due to a shortage of foster carers,. Photo / Getty Images
Some children have been staying in motels due to a shortage of foster carers,. Photo / Getty Images

Petley said while Oranga Tamariki acknowledged placing children in a motel wasn't ideal it was "sadly for some the safest temporary placement while it finds them a more permanent loving home".

"If we need to use a motel temporarily, we try to ensure it is in the child's community, so schooling, sport and whānau (if appropriate) are nearby.

"We work hard to explore every other possible safe avenue or option for our tamariki before considering temporary accommodation."


The process to place a young person in a motel involved an assigned social worker and supervisor and required manager approval, she said.

"If a child is not being cared for by a relief caregiver or whānau member they will have a support person with them who will monitor and supervise their safety, security and well-being.

"We are working hard to reduce the need for temporary accommodation options, such as motels."

Every child and young person in the care of Oranga Tamariki had a care plan which was specific to their needs.

Petley said this took into consideration schooling arrangements, their likes and dislikes and other relevant information to ensure whoever was providing their care was aware of what they needed and how these needs would be met.

"Any change in placement can be challenging for a child or young person as they adjust to the new home environment."

Petley said Oranga Tamariki had a "team of people solely focused on establishing more homes for young people who need it most".

"Every week some children and young people need emergency care because a crisis has resulted in an end to their current living situation or placement.

Earlier this year the organisation received an additional $15.7 million of funding.

This enabled more short-term crisis care options, as well as longer-term placements to provide stability, a digital solution to enable real-time, nationwide information on care demand and supply and more resources at a regional level.

Oranga Tamariki was "working hard" to increase the number of "safe and loving places" available for tamariki when home wasn't working, Petley said.

Nationally the number of caregivers had grown by 150 since the organisation was established in April last year.

"It is an on-going and dedicated process to attract more caregivers throughout the country.

"We are continually recruiting caregivers, but it's not just a question of numbers. It's about matching the right caregiver to the right child, so the wider the range of caregivers we have, the better."

What children and young people have told Oranga Tamariki they need in a caregiver
• Make them feel welcome and loved
• Provide more than just food, shelter and supervision by helping them feel part of a family
• Meet a range of needs and help them to learn, grow and heal
• Persevere and be patient – no matter what
• Support them to maintain relationships with their family and friends
• Help them develop skills, knowledge and experiences to prepare for young adulthood.
• A first step inquiry line has been created for people who want to become caregivers, it is 0508 227 377.