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Significant funding for carers of children

Paula Bennett

15 December, 2013

Significant funding for carers of children

The National Government is providing significant extra funds for extended family members caring for children, in recognition of the difficult job they do.

Around 12,400 children are cared for by extended family and other carers.

“Some of these children have suffered abuse or neglect or the death of a parent and other family members who step in often find it both emotionally and financially challenging.

“I said this Government was committed to providing more support to grandparents and family carers and today I am announcing that support.”

Funding package for carers includes:

• A one-off establishment grant of $350 when a carer receiving Orphan’s Benefit or Unsupported Child’s Benefit takes a child into their home

• A Start of Year payment ranging from $400 for under five year olds, to $550 for children over 14, for things like school uniforms and fees

• A discretionary Extraordinary Care Fund of up to $2000 a year, for children with significant difficulties or who are showing promise.

Mrs Bennett says many carers are doing a tough job on limited incomes and these cash injections will make a huge difference to them managing.

The establishment grant recognises that when they take on a child there can be some one-off costs like buying a bed or cot.

“Every year carers have to buy things like school uniforms and pay for sport and school fees, so we’re giving carers several hundred dollars up front to relieve the pressure,” says Mrs Bennett.

In the first transitional year, the January payment will range from $250-400 and when the full funding is available payments will rise to $400-550.

The Extraordinary Care Fund, available from July 2014, is a discretionary fund for those families caring for children who need extra help and support.

“For example, where a child has been seriously abused by their own parents, their grandparents may need specialist help to support that child to overcome the trauma.”

“Other children may be showing real promise in something like sports or music and this funding could be used to support them furthering that interest.”

As part of the White Paper on Vulnerable Children, Mrs Bennett signalled additional financial assistance would be made available for carers receiving Unsupported Child Benefit and Orphan’s Benefit.

A Ministerial Reference Group was established to advise the Minister of Social Development on how that extra $35 million should be used.

“I have drawn heavily on that advice in designing this package and I thank the Reference Group for their valuable input,” says Mrs Bennett.

Applications for the Start of Year Payment will open from 13 January 2014.

For more detail on the package go to: www.workandincome.govt.nz

ENDS


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