Maori Council update on changes to financial benefits and allowances for children in care


Maori Council update on changes to financial benefits and allowances for children in care

There are an estimated 14,000 caregivers in New Zealand that look after 22,000 children. There are 10,000 caregivers caring for children outside of the state care system. Many receive either the unsupported children’s benefit or the orphans benefit while many others receive the foster care allowance. The vast majority of children are cared for in a direct whanau or extended whanau model. A number of changes are coming info force to address inequities in the payments and allowances system. Some short history:

The first was when the Clothing Allowance was made available for children on the Orphan’s Benefit and Unsupported Children’s Benefit at the same rate as the Foster Care Allowance.

Then in 2018, the Orphan’s Benefit, Unsupported Children’s Benefit and Foster Care Allowance increased by $20.31 a week as part of the Families Package. Many caregivers also benefited from the Winter Energy Payment, Best Start tax credit, and changes to Working for Families tax credits.”

The Government made further changes following a comprehensive review of the caregiver payment system in 2019.

In the 2020 Budget some important funding initiatives were announced. The first was that the Unsupported Child’s Benefit, Orphan’s Benefit and Foster Care Allowance increased by $25 a week per child to help with the financial impacts of COVID-19.

Two of the other initiatives were designed especially for caregivers receiving the Unsupported Child’s Benefit and Orphan’s Benefit.

A legislative process was started to make the Birthday and Christmas Allowances available to all caregivers receiving the Unsupported Children’s Benefit and Orphan’s Benefit, and to extend eligibility for the two benefits to caregivers who provide care for less than 12 months.

Caregivers often take on the care of a child in difficult or uncertain situations where there is little other choice, and until now they were not able to access financial support unless they were likely to be the child’s caregiver for at least 12 months.

The Birthday and Christmas Allowances are really important for making sure children feel they are part of the family and have the same experiences as other children. Until this year only caregivers receiving the Foster Care Allowance were entitled to them.

  • Unsupported Child’s Benefit, Orphan’s Benefit and Foster Care Allowance increased by $25 a week per child.

  • Process initiated to:

  • Extend Birthday and Christmas Allowances to the Orphan’s Benefit and Unsupported Child’s Benefit.

  • Extend eligibility for the Orphan's Benefit and Unsupported Child's Benefit to caregivers who provide care for less than 12 months.

  • Paid respite extended to 20 days for caregivers receiving the Foster Care Allowance.

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