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Grandparent Care Advocates Say Removal Of 12-month Rule Can’t Come Soon Enough

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Trust New Zealand is applauding the Minister for Children, Tracey Martin’s announcement today, that the 12-month eligibility rule for the Unsupported Child Benefit and the Orphan’s Benefit is to be removed from the law.

“Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Trust New Zealand has campaigned long and hard for better support for grandparents and other whanau caregivers of children who can’t be raised by their parents. Removing this 1-year rule is something we have been saying for years needs to happen because most children in grandparent care have experienced significant trauma and have the same needs as children in foster care. They need support from day one. ” Says Kate Bundle, the Trust’s Chief Executive.

“Grandparents often have to take on the fulltime care of children at very short notice. They might have to care for the children for weeks or months at a time in circumstances where there has been a traumatic family breakdown or where the parents have died. If Work and Income decides that it looks like it will be less than a year that they will be in care, they get nothing to help with the children’s basic food and living costs, let alone all the extra costs involved in raising a child. This is incredibly unfair to the children and their caregivers at a time when they are especially vulnerable.”

“We spend a lot of time helping grandparents get the benefits they are entitled to, but we have worked with many grandparents who have fallen through the cracks because of this 1-year rule. Some have endured dreadful financial struggles trying to make ends meet on just their superannuation payments. Some have lost their homes and ended up with huge debts. At times the plight of these grandparents is simply unimaginable. This law change can’t come soon enough,” says Bundle.

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Trust New Zealand provides support services, advocacy, information resources and caregiver training programmes to more than 5200-member families throughout New Zealand, representing close to 9,000 caregivers raising around 14,000 children.

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