Acknowledging caregiving whānau this Caregiver Awareness Week

Published: March 9, 2023

This week is Caregiver Awareness Week (Monday 6 March to Sunday 12 March), and Oranga Tamariki Chief Executive Chappie Te Kani is recognising caregiving whānau across Aoteroa – and encouraging New Zealanders to join him in saying, 'Thank you for the dedication and aroha you show to those in your care every day.'

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Join us in celebrating caregiving whānau across Aotearoa this Caregiver Awareness Week.

Chappie acknowledges, on behalf of Oranga Tamariki and all of Aotearoa, the commitment and support caregiving whānau show tamariki and rangatahi when they need it the most.

'All caregivers have made a wonderful and selfless choice to care for tamariki and rangatahi when – for whatever reason – they are no longer able to live at home with their parents,' he says.

'I encourage caregiving whānau across Aotearoa to take some time for themselves this week to recognise and reflect on all they do, and the massive difference they’re making to the lives of those in their care.'

'It is important to recognise that being a caregiver can be as complex as it is rewarding. These are the people who spend hour after hour, day after day, month after month, caring for tamariki and rangatahi who cannot currently live at home,' Chappie says.

Who are caregiving whānau?

There are over 15,000 caregivers across the motu who are looking after tamariki and rangatahi who cannot stay at home and be cared for by their parents. At Oranga Tamariki, we support over 2600 of these caregiving whānau through our Caregiver Recruitment and Support (CGRS) service.

'These caregivers are all making a difference, not just to tamariki and whānau, but to Aotearoa as a whole. Because of them, these tamariki and rangatahi have a safe home and are being supported to have the best opportunity to thrive,' Chappie says.

Caregivers have all had unique experiences, and come from a wide range of backgrounds and cultures – just like the tamariki and rangatahi in their care. What connects them is their willingness to help when it is needed most, and the aroha they show tamariki and rangatahi.

Around 40% of caregivers with Oranga Tamariki are now Māori or Pacific, and around two-thirds of tamariki and rangatahi in the custody of the Oranga Tamariki are being cared for by whānau.

'Our vision is that tamariki live safely with whānau, hapū, iwi supported by communities – and I’m pleased to say we’re on the right path, with increasingly higher numbers of Māori caregivers looking after tamariki and rangatahi Māori in care.'

Supporting caregivers to care

We’ve heard directly from tamariki and rangatahi that they need caregivers who make them feel loved and part of the family, and help them learn, heal and grow.

'These tamariki and young people haven’t always had the best start to life and, at this time, need caregiving whānau to be there for them – and it’s essential caregivers are supported and empowered to best provide the aroha, support and care that these tamariki need,' Chappie says.

CGRS offers caregiving whānau support like a Caregiver Social Worker, a dedicated 24/7 Caregiver Support Line (0508 CARERS) run by our Caregiver Enquires Team, free counselling support and advice, and learning and development opportunities. This mahi is all informed by what caregivers told us helps them to best support the tamariki and rangatahi in their care.

Caregiver social workers also work with caregiving whānau to develop Caregiver Support Plans, which outline how caregivers will be supported, as outlined in the National Care Standards.

Celebrating Caregiver Awareness Week 2023

Caring Families Aoteraoa has more information about Caregiver Awareness Week (also known as Foster Care Awareness Week) on their website, including events around Aotearoa that are being held to celebrate the week.

'I encourage anyone who knows or has caregivers in their life to take some time to reach out this week and thank them for all they do for our tamariki and rangatahi when they need it the most,' Chappie says.

'Caregiving can take a lot of time and energy, and have an impact on caregiving whānau. It’s important we recognise and show our appreciation for the opportunity they are creating for our tamariki and rangatahi.'