Building stronger families
Budget 2002 provides $23 million in new spending for children and families, says Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey.
Extra support is provided for foster parents, students with children, family violence treatment programmes and additional social workers in schools. Steve Maharey said it is important that children get the best possible start in safe and secure families.
“Ensuring young people grow up in a supportive family environment is the best investment we can make in their future. Budget 2002 provides additional resources for services to help children experiencing difficulties and supports parents to build a better future for themselves and their families [all figures over four years unless specified].
Support for student parents
“A $7 million package supports student parents by:
- Removing for student parents with dependent children or spouses the one-week gap in payment between student allowances and benefits to prevent them experiencing hardship;
- increasing by 50 per cent the student accommodation benefit paid to sole parent students with children. The dollar value of the benefit will rise in most regions and the maximum rate increases from $40 to $60 per week.
Social Workers in Schools
“Extra funding worth $4 million is provided for the social workers in schools programme. Six additional social workers will be employed and exisiting social worker positions will receive a boost in resources to address the issues identified in evaluation of the pilot programmes.
Support for foster parents
“A $3.49 million package of initiatives provides better support for foster parents and young people exiting care by:
- removing the current anomaly in eligibility to the Care Supplement (an enhanced form of the Unsupported Childs/Orphan Benefit) so that all foster parents of children discharged from the care of state and non-government organisations receive the same rate;
- providing funding to assist the New Zealand Family and Foster Care Federation, Grandparents Raising Grandchildren and the Child and Family Support Service Association in their work to assist families;
- establishing a new payment to encourage foster parents to recruit others; and,
- trialing transition services for young people exiting care during 2002-03.
Family violence prevention
“A further $8.696 million is also being invested to enable the three community based sex offender treatment programmes to meet increasing demand for their services, boost the number of self-referral places available in family violence prevention programmes and improve the effectiveness of Child, Youth and Family’s youth justice services,” Steve Maharey said.