We advocate for the interests, rights and wellbeing of children and young people

Office of the Children's Commissioner FAQs - COVID-19 Alert Level 2

Last updated 14 May 2020

We are now in Alert Level 2. Cabinet will review Alert Level 2 restrictions on Monday 25 May.

1. Can children in shared custody go between households?

2. Can children go to school?

3. Access meetings with biological parents (information for foster caregivers)

4. Women’s Refuge information

5. I’m feeling stressed, who can I talk to?

6. Where can I look if I need emotional support?

7. What financial support am I entitled to?

8. What are my rights?

If you are concerned about the safety of a child or children please phone the Police on 111.

If you would like to speak to someone about a non-urgent issue related to the rights of children and young people, our Child Rights Line is available on 0800 224 453 Monday to Wednesday 9am-5pm and Thursday 9am – 4pm.

1. Can children in shared custody go between households?

(Accessed from Advice for parents, whanau, caregivers and teachershttps://covid19.govt.nz/individuals-and-households/parents-caregivers-whanau-and-teachers/ 13/05/2020)

At Alert Level 2, parenting arrangements can return to normal.

Household bubbles don’t need to be maintained and you can reconnect with friends and family, in a safe way.

Children can travel freely for the purpose of parenting arrangements. There's no restriction on distance for domestic travel.

Children still must not move between households if they show symptoms of COVID-19, are awaiting a test, or are required to self-isolate. Make sure you travel in a safe way and follow public health measures.

If you have a dispute on shared parenting the Family Court may be able to assist.

Information about Family Court services under Alert Level 2.

If you were doing Family Dispute Resolution check with your provider. These services will be available under Alert Level 2 but the way they are delivered may change, including doing some of the programme by phone or online.

Call 0800 COURTS (0800 268 787) if you need other information about Family Court.

2. Can children go to school?

Early learning services, schools and tertiary education facilities will be open for all students and young people from 18 May.

On the advice of public health officials, any educational facilities connected to a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19 must close on an individual or group basis to allow contact tracing, and then potentially for a further 14 days.

All early learning centres and schools will be physically open including years 11 to 13. Distance learning will be available for those unable to attend school, for example where people are self-isolating.

Early learning services and schools are safe environments for children, young people and staff. Additional public health control measures are in place to prevent the spread of disease and to support contact tracing.


Alert Level 2 FAQs for schools and Early Learning Centres

3. Access meetings with biological parents (information for foster caregivers)

(Accessed from https://www.orangatamariki.govt.nz/caring-for-someone/covid-19-information-for-caregivers/)

Any decisions about the children in your care physically attending school at Level 3 will be considered in the context of your specific situation. At Level 3, whānau contact and home visits from your caregiver social worker will still be managed through phone and online contact in most cases.

4. Women’s Refuge information

(https://womensrefuge.org.nz/ 26/3/2020)

Women’s Refuge services might look different and you may be asked some questions about your health. This will not prevent you from getting help.

If you feel unsafe you can call 111 at any time. You can also call 0800 REFUGE – services will remain open 24/7.

If you are concerned about somebody else, you can support them by keeping in touch with them. Some people may find it difficult to talk while in isolation if the abusive person is monitoring their devices. You can:
• Agree on a ‘code word’ in advance with your friend. If they message you that word, you can call the police and ask them to check on them.
• Ask them if they have the essential things they need (such as food, medication, and sanitary items) and help them to get them. Some abusive people will withhold these items.
• Help them to feel less isolated by setting up regular times to talk to you and to others.
• Encourage them to get in touch with Women’s Refuge if they feel unsafe.

5. I’m feeling stressed, who can I talk to?

(Accessed from Looking after your mental wellbeinghttps://covid19.govt.nz/individuals-and-households/health-and-wellbeing/looking-after-your-mental-wellbeing/ 17/4/2020)

If over the following days and weeks you feel you are not coping, it’s important to seek help and professional support. ​Your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. It is normal to feel stressed or lonely when self-isolating, but there are some things you can do to feel better.

For support with grief, anxiety, distress or mental wellbeing, you can call or text the 'Need to talk?' service on 1737. This service is free, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and gives you the chance to talk it through with a trained counsellor.   

6. Where else can I look if you need help for stress

(Accessed from https://www.mentalhealth.org.nz/get-help/in-crisis/helplines/ 31/3/2020)

Helplines for children and young people

Youthline – 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email talk@youthline.co.nz or online chat

thelowdown.co.nz – or email team@thelowdown.co.nz or free text 5626 

What's Up – 0800 942 8787 (for 5–18 year olds). Phone counselling is available Monday to Friday, 12noon–11pm and weekends, 3pm–11pm. Online chat is available from 3pm–10pm 7 days a week, including all public holidays. 

Kidsline – 0800 54 37 54 (0800 kidsline) for young people up to 18 years of age. Open 24/7.

OUTLine - 0800 OUTLINE (688 5463) between 6-9pm for LGBTIQ+ affirming support.

Support for parents, family and friends experiencing stress

EDANZ – improving outcomes for people with eating disorders and their families. Freephone 0800 2 EDANZ or 0800 233 269, or in Auckland 09 522 2679. Or email info@ed.org.nz

Parent Help – 0800 568 856 for parents/whānau seeking support, advice and practical strategies on all parenting concerns. Anonymous, non-judgemental and confidential.

Family Services 211 Helpline –  0800 211 211 for help finding (and direct transfer to) community based health and social support services in your area.

7. What financial support am I entitled to?

Information about financial support is available on the COVID19 website and the Work and Income website:



8. What are my rights?

Everyone, including children and young people, has human rights at all times, including during Covid-19. Rights which are particularly relevant to children and young people at the moment include:

The right to access a quality education and get the support they need to learn, by distance or onsite at school

The right to be in a physically and emotionally safe school environment when learning onsite

For students who have been excluded from school, the right to be provided with education from their excluding school until they are enrolled with another school, enrolled with Te Kura, or progressed through another suitable education pathway

The right to healthcare, within available resources, in a non-discriminatory way

For young people who are working, the right to safe working conditions and to be free from discrimination at work

The right to be free from violence and abuse

The right to be informed of their rights before being questioned by a police officer, charged with an offence, or arrested, in a way that is appropriate to the age and level of understanding of the child or young person.

For more information or advice, you can:

Contact our dedicated Child Rights Line on 0800 224 453 or advice@occ.org.nz or visit our children’s rights and advice page https://www.occ.org.nz/childrens-rights-and-advice/

Contact YouthLaw for free, specialist legal advice about issues involving children and young people on 0800 UTHLAW (0800 884529) or email info@youthlaw.co.nz

Visit the Human Rights Commission’s dedicated Covid-19 website https://covid19.hrc.co.nz/

Report your human rights and Covid-19 issues to the Human Rights Commission https://covid19.hrc.co.nz/report-an-issue