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Time for equity for grandparents

Joint Media Release

Grandparents Raising GrandchildrenT Trust / Age Concern New Zealand / Grey Power New Zealand Federation / National Council of Women of New Zealand

16 October 2006

Time for equity for grandparents

The announcement of the Government's budget surplus has increased the frustration of four groups working towards recognition of grandparents raising grandchildren. The raising of grandchildren by grandparents deserves the same equitable payment as foster parents, the groups say.

Grandparents Raising GrandchildrenT Trust, Age Concern New Zealand, Grey Power New Zealand Federation and the National Council of Women of New Zealand (NCWNZ) - organisations with a collective representative membership of over 750,000 - call upon the Government to honour the election promise to address the longstanding anomaly that grandparents receive $3000 a year less than other foster parents to care for children.

Further, these groups urge the Government to broaden the eligibility criteria of their original promise to ensure the inclusion of grandparents not in employment, or receiving superannuation. "Thirteen months after the promise was made the Grandparents caring for Grandchildren are still waiting," states Grandparents Raising GrandchildrenT Trust National Convenor Diane Vivian. "We would like to see all Grandparents who are raising their grandchildren under difficult and stressful situations get exactly the same as foster care people."

"Grey Power has many members that after having raised their children have now had to take responsibility for their grandchildren," said Graham Stairmand, President, Grey Power New Zealand Federation.

"Apart from the additional stress that accrues there is the financial burden that has to be met. There is absolutely no reason why the payment to grandparents raising grandchildren should be any less than that paid to foster parents".

"It's only fair - relatives and foster parents should receive the same allowance for looking after children. The current disparity is disadvantaging grandparents and the children in their care," Age Concern New Zealand's Chief Executive Ann Martin said. David Benson-Pope has stated that the Working for Families package will help.

This fails to recognise the real issues, or pressures faced by grandparents caring for children. These carers often have health issues due to their age and their employment opportunities are particularly limited. Many elderly are caring for some of New Zealand's most traumatised children, many with psychological and special needs. These children need stability in their home life, which is best served by stay-at-home grandparents.

"Raising a five-year-old costs the same whether you are a grandparent, or a foster parent. The difference lies in ability each of these groups has to meet the financial costs of raising children. Currently, grandparents are unfairly disadvantaged by government policy," said Christine Low, National President NCWNZ. In response to questions put to the Minister of Women's Affairs, Hon Lianne Dalziel, at the NCWNZ Conference on 30 September 2006, on the funding of entitlements to grandparents raising grandchildren, the Minister stated that there was a proposal that the allowance be asset tested.

"NCWNZ members were dismayed by the talk of an asset test," said Christine Low, NCWNZ. "No foster parent is currently asset tested when they are granted the foster care allowance." "To suggest that the payment for this should be asset tested just illustrates how little concern is held for both the elderly and the young by the current government," said Graham Stairmand, Grey Power.

Grandparents Raising GrandchildrenT Trust, Age Concern New Zealand, Grey Power New Zealand Federation and the National Council of Women of New Zealand (NCWNZ) urge the Government to use the budget surplus towards funding grandparents caring for grandchildren.


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