Child & Family Unit

The Child and Family Unit (CFU) is a supra-regional acute psychiatric child and adolescent mental health inpatient unit hosted by Auckland District Health Board. It is located on level one of Starship Children's Hospital.

CFU admits young people aged from 13 - 18 with significant mental health concerns or suspected mental illness from the upper region of the North Island (north of and including Taranaki through to Cape Reinga). It is also the inpatient facility for children under 13 years for the North Island.

Within the same facility the Child and Family Unit also houses a specialist three-bedded Mother and Baby Unit which provides inpatient care to people living in Waitemata, Auckland, Counties Manukau and Northland.

Acute Inpatient Unit for Young People:

The Child and Family Unit operates utilising a bio-psycho-social model and a strengths approach to support young people and their whanau during an acute period of illness.

There are two separate units where young people experiencing mental distress may be admitted into:

  • There is a 7-bed High Dependency Unit. Each young person has a single room and there is a higher level of nursing care within this ward due to the acute nature of presentations of people admitted.
  • There is a general Open Adolescent Unit which has 11 beds. Some of the bedrooms are shared rooms, for up to 2 people. School is attached to this unit and it is expected that young people engage in the recovery based programme that operates to support their wellbeing. 

CFU has a multidisciplinary team approach to supporting all young people. There are a range of registered and unregistered health practitioners such as nurses, support workers, cultural advisors, social workers, occupational therapists, specialist child and adolescent psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatry registrars and medical staff who will support the care provided. Northern Health Schools also provide a school within the service and teachers are available Monday to Friday to support young people to remain engaged in education. 

The unit provides 24/7 observation and assessment of all young people admitted. Treatment decisions are made in collaboration with young people and whanau/families. There will be close liaison with community specialist teams in order to ensure transitions into and out of the service are managed appropriately. 

Mother and Baby Unit:

The Child and Family Unit also manages the Mother and Baby Unit. Staff are integrated into the overall model of care and have specialised skills in supporting mothers and babies. The outpatient Maternal Mental Health teams act as gatekeepers to the small number of beds. Average length of stay is around 4 weeks. Common presentations are postpartum depression, anxiety and psychosis. 

Each mum has her own bedroom. Partners or supportive other are encouraged to stay overnight if they choose. The service has a paediatrician available to ensure thorough assessment of babies' physical health needs are addressed in a timely manner. Midwife support is available for women up until babies are 6 weeks old. 

There is weekly liaison with all of the Maternal Mental Health teams to ensure continuity of care is maintained.

Referral Expectations

Referrals to the Child and Adolescent inpatient unit are accepted from the specialist CAMHS teams in the region, or private child and adolescent psychiatrists.

In crisis, some young people are seen in Emergency Departments. All after hour admissions are processed through the on call child and adolescent psychiatrist covering CFU.

Referrals for the Mother and Baby Unit (MBU) are from the two metro Auckland Maternal Mental Health teams. These teams work Monday to Friday business hours only. There are no after hours or crisis admissions accepted into the MBU.

This information has been provided by, helping people better understand and use New Zealand health services.