Major boost in support for caregivers and children

Hon Tracey Martin, Minister for Children

A major increase in funding and availability of support will improve the incomes and reduce the pressure on 14,000 caregivers looking after more than 22,000 children.

Children’s Minister Tracey Martin says that caregivers – all those looking after someone else’s children both in and outside the state care system – do a hugely important job that needs to be recognised and supported.

“We started the first ever fundamental review of financial assistance for caregivers in 2019 and the clear message was that more help was needed,” Tracey Martin said.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has made addressing this issue more urgent as caregivers face the same financial pressures as other New Zealanders and the Government is responding with a significant funding increase.”   

An additional $210 million over four years will be provided to caregivers caring for children both in and outside of the state care system who are unable to be cared for by their parents. This is being done by:

  • increasing the Unsupported Child’s Benefit (UCB), Orphan’s Benefit (OB) and Foster Care Allowance (FCA) by $25 a week per child ($143.1 million over 4 years)
  • allowing caregivers who may provide care for less than 12 months to access the Orphan's Benefit and Unsupported Child's Benefit ($46.6 million)extending Birthday and Christmas Allowances, which are currently only available to caregivers caring for children in state care, to those receiving the UCB and OB ($16.8 million)
  • continuing payments of the FCA to caregivers of children in state care for up to 20 days while the child they care for is in respite care ($3.2 million).

“This financial commitment will help to ensure that children and young people being cared for by extended family and whānau or non-kin carers can have the same opportunities we want for all kids in New Zealand,” Mrs Martin says.

“It’s also really important to recognise that not all care is for an extended period and that caregivers sometimes need a break.

“Some caregivers provide homes for children with complex and challenging needs. Their role is 24/7 and while rewarding, both they and the child they care for deserve to be able to have some time off.”

Changing the rules around respite care will benefit more than 2,800 caregivers who care for about 4,700 children in state care.

Minister Martin said that Budget 2020 also included an extra $229.9 million over four years for Oranga Tamariki to continue improving services to children in care.  

“Part of this, $57.7 million, is extra funding to relieve pressures on the Ministry’s iwi, Māori and NGO social service partners.

“Budget 2020 puts money right where it’s needed, directly into the hands of those in our communities keeping those children who need it safe and supported in loving homes.”

 

tracey.martin@parliament.govt.nz

 

Notes for editors:

The Foster Care Allowance is for Oranga Tamariki caregivers who care for children in State care, while the Orphan’s Benefit and Unsupported Child’s Benefit are for eligible caregivers outside of the statutory care system and are administered by the Ministry of Social Development.

The FCA, OB and UCB are non-taxable. The current rates (which will each increase by $25) are:

  • 0-4 years - $175.71
  • 5-9 years - $200.55
  • 10-13 years - $219.11
  • 14+ years - $237.59

Implementation:

  •  The rates of OB, UCB and FCA will all increase from July 6.
  • The increase in paid respite care days from 2 days to 20 days per child for the next year will be implemented from June 2020
  • Legislative change is required to allow caregivers who take on the care of a child for less than 12 months to access the OB and UCB, and to extend the payment of Christmas and Birthday Allowances. It is planned that a Bill will be introduced in this parliamentary term.
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