Budget 2020 caregiver initiatives
Like many New Zealanders during the COVID-19 pandemic, caregivers have faced an increase in household costs. Many are also facing reduced income, and we know this financial pressure is likely to continue as New Zealand moves into the recovery phase.
Caregivers have the critical role of providing safe, stable, loving homes for children who are unable to be cared for by their parents. The need for stability for these children is more important than ever due to the impacts of COVID-19.
This is why the Government’s Budget 2020 is investing additional funding to ensure caregivers have the support they need to care for children and young people during the recovery phase of this pandemic.
We know that extra support will help to keep placements stable, and ensure our caregivers are better placed to meet the reasonable costs of caring for a child.
Support for caregivers
A suite of initiatives will be introduced to help alleviate the significant pressure on caregiving households. These initiatives support caregivers receiving the Foster Care Allowance (FCA), the Unsupported Child’s Benefit (UCB) and the Orphans Benefit (OB).
The four funding initiatives for caregivers are:
- Increase the base rate of the Orphan’s Benefit, Unsupported Child’s Benefit and Foster Care Allowance by $25 per week per child.
- Entitle Foster Care Allowance caregivers to 20 days of paid respite over the next year.
- Amend legislation to enable short-term caregivers to access the Orphan’s Benefit or Unsupported Child’s Benefit, provided they meet the other eligibility criteria.
- Extend Birthday and Christmas Allowances to those receiving the Orphan’s Benefit and Unsupported Child’s Benefit.
We’re also continuing our longer-term policy work to reform the system of financial assistance for caregivers, in response to the review we carried out last year. We have prioritised these four funding initiatives to help address the immediate challenges caregivers are facing as a result of COVID-19.
We have a report-back to Cabinet on this work due in November 2020, and we’ll share more information about this with our caregivers soon.
Message from Trish Langridge
Kia ora koutou,
Our caregivers are at the heart of what we do. The aroha and support they give to children and young people in their care makes an incredible difference, every day.
We’ve been working really hard to support our caregivers through the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring they have support plans in place every step of the way.
The majority of caregivers have provided continuous care for children and young people through Alert Levels 4 and 3, with very limited access to respite care or their wider support networks.
COVID-19 has put additional financial pressures on many caregiving households, with increased costs for power, internet, groceries and entertainment. They've also told us through our pulse surveys that they need need extra support.
I’m really pleased this Budget is putting money right where it’s needed - directly into the hands of those in our communities keeping New Zealand’s most at risk children safe.
The increase in the Foster Care Allowance will support caregivers to meet increased costs of caring for children through the recovery phase and beyond.
We also want our caregivers to be able to take a break if they need it, without any loss of financial security. With the additional funding, caregivers will be able to continue to receive the Foster Care Allowance for longer while their child is in respite care.
Alongside these financial boosts, our teams will continue to support caregivers closely over the coming weeks and months. This will include making sure every caregiver has a support plan in place to help them meet the needs of children and young people in their care.
Ngā mihi nui,
Deputy Chief Executive
Key things caregivers need to know
- The increase to the base rate of the Foster Care Allowance will be implemented from 6 July 2020.
- The increase to the base rate will be $25 per week per child.
- Funding will also be provided to our Care partners, like Barnardos and Open Home Foundation, to meet this increase to the Foster Care Allowance. The timing for this implementation will be similar to Oranga Tamariki.
- As the Birthday and Christmas Allowances are set at half the weekly rate of the Foster Care Allowance, caregivers will also see an increase to these allowances after 6 July 2020.
- Caregivers who receive the Foster Care Allowance will be entitled to continue to receive the Foster Care Allowance for up to 20 days per child, while that child is in respite care with an approved caregiver. This will take effect from 1 June 2020 for the next year.
- This entitlement has risen from the previous two days paid respite per child.
- We will be working with our caregivers individually on how this respite can be applied.