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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.

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