Financial support for foster carers to be reviewed

Oranga Tamariki will conduct the first ever full review of the financial assistance provided to foster and other caregivers, Children’s Minister Tracey Martin announced today.

“This Government wants all children and young people to be cared for in safe, stable, loving homes,” the Minister said.

“I know that foster carers don’t do the job for money, but they do need a range of support to help them fulfil their role and financial assistance is part of this.

“That is why Cabinet has agreed that the Ministry should do this review.”

The review will look at the three main benefits paid to caregivers – the Foster Care Allowance, Orphan’s Benefit, and Unsupported Child’s Benefit – and their associated payments. It will consider the level and consistency of payments and the appropriateness of the eligibility criteria.

The Minister said that changes to these payments have taken place over the years, but there had not been a fundamental review and adjustments had not always kept pace with societal changes.

“Our understanding of the needs of children and young people who cannot live with their parents has evolved significantly,” Minister Martin said. “As a society, we want more for them.”

“I think there is also a greater appreciation of the role of carers and the challenges facing people doing foster care or caring for children in their family or whānau.”

Oranga Tamariki has in the last year introduced a range of new supports for caregivers, including a 24-hour phone helpline, regional teams which support caregivers and a new Caregiver Recruitment and Support Manager role, and training for caregivers.

“This Government has also increased each of these three benefits by $20.31 a week under the Families Package and as part of last year’s Budget provided $100 million in funding so that caregivers, such as grandparents, became entitled to a clothing allowance of up to $1,500 a year for the children they’re looking after,” Mrs Martin said.

“However we want to take a thorough look at the financial assistance settings to determine if they are still fit for purpose and meet the needs of children and their caregivers.”

Oranga Tamariki will lead the review, which will include consultation throughout June and early July. As part of the review it will talk to caregivers, care experienced young people and NGOs operating in the care system.

The Minister will report back to Cabinet on the review later this year.

ENDS

Media contact: Richard Ninness 021 892 536

Note to Editors:

Foster Care Allowance – available to caregivers who are caring for a child or young person in state care. The Foster Care Allowance is paid to over 2,700 caregivers in relation to around 5,000 children and young people.

Unsupported Child’s Benefit – available to caregivers who are looking after a child or young person whose parents are unable to care for them or provide fully for that child or young person’s support and where there has been a family breakdown. This group includes caregivers who are caring for a child or young person who:

  • is not in need of care or protection
  • or has been placed with them following a Family Group Conference, but has not been taken into state care
  • or is in a permanent care arrangement with them following a period in state care.

It is paid to around 11,000 caregivers in relation to around 17,000 children and young people.

Orphan’s Benefit – available to caregivers who are looking after a child or young person whose parents have died, are missing, or have a long-term serious disability. The Orphans Benefit is paid to around 300 caregivers in relation to around 400 children and young people.

The payment base rates are the same for Foster Care Allowance, Orphans Benefit and Unsupported Child’s Benefit, ranging from $172.84 to $233.71 per child per week, depending on the age of the child. For example, for a child 5-9 years old the allowance is $197.27 per week. For those 14 and over the payment is $233.71 a week.

Other assistance is also provided. For example, in addition to the Foster Care Allowance Oranga Tamariki caregivers can also receive the clothing allowance, and allowances for Christmas and birthday presents. These payments vary depending on the age of the child. New caregivers qualify for a $350 set-up grant. People caring for a child who needs nappies receive a $20 weekly payment. There is also a $10 standard payment for small items.

Further details can be found here:

https://www.orangatamariki.govt.nz/caring-for-someone/financial-help/

https://www.workandincome.govt.nz/map/deskfile/main-benefits-rates/orphans-benefit-and-unsupported-childs-benefit-cur.html

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