Budget 2020 caregiver initiatives

Published: May 17, 2020

Like many New Zealanders during the COVID-19 pandemic, caregivers have faced an increase in household costs. Many are also facing reduced income, and we know this financial pressure is likely to continue as New Zealand moves into the recovery phase.

Caregivers have the critical role of providing safe, stable, loving homes for children who are unable to be cared for by their parents. The need for stability for these children is more important than ever due to the impacts of COVID-19.

This is why the Government’s Budget 2020 is investing additional funding to ensure caregivers have the support they need to care for children and young people during the recovery phase of this pandemic.

We know that extra support will help to keep placements stable, and ensure our caregivers are better placed to meet the reasonable costs of caring for a child.

Read the announcement from the Minister for Children Tracey Martin about financial assistance for caregivers

Support for caregivers through Budget 2020

A suite of initiatives will be introduced to help alleviate the significant pressure on caregiving households. These initiatives support caregivers receiving the Foster Care Allowance (FCA), the Unsupported Child’s Benefit (UCB) and the Orphans Benefit (OB).

We’re also continuing our longer-term policy work to reform the system of financial assistance for caregivers, in response to the review we carried out last year. We have prioritised these four funding initiatives to help address the immediate challenges caregivers are facing as a result of COVID-19. We have a report-back to Cabinet on this work due in November 2020, and we’ll share more information about this with our caregivers soon.

The four funding initiatives for caregivers are:

  • Increase the base rate of the Orphan’s Benefit, Unsupported Child’s Benefit and Foster Care Allowance by $25 per week per child.
  • Entitle Foster Care Allowance caregivers to 20 days of paid respite over the next year.
  • Amend legislation to enable short-term caregivers to access the Orphan’s Benefit or Unsupported Child’s Benefit, provided they meet the other legislative criteria.
  • Extend Birthday and Christmas allowances to those receiving the Orphan’s Benefit and Unsupported Child’s Benefit.

Read the full set of Budget 2020 funding in relation to Oranga Tamariki

Message from Trish Langridge

Kia ora koutou,

Our caregivers are at the heart of what we do. The aroha and support they give to children and young people in their care makes an incredible difference, every day.

We’ve been working really hard to support our caregivers through the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring they have support plans in place every step of the way. 

The majority of caregivers have provided continuous care for children and young people through Alert Levels 4 and 3, with very limited access to respite care or their wider support networks.

COVID-19 has also put additional financial pressures on many caregiving households, with increased costs for power, internet, groceries and entertainment.

I’m really pleased this Budget is putting money right where it’s needed - directly into the hands of those in our communities keeping New Zealand’s most at risk children safe.

The increase in the Foster Care Allowance will support caregivers to meet their increased costs through recovery phase and beyond.

We also want our caregivers to be able to take a break if they need it, and with the additional funding they can now do this without any loss of financial security.

Alongside these financial boosts, our teams will continue to support caregivers closely over the coming weeks and months. This will include making sure every caregiver has a support plan in place to help them meet the needs of children and young people in their care.  

Ngā mihi nui,

Trish Langridge
Deputy Chief Executive
Care Services

Key things to know

  • The increase to the base rate of the Foster Care Allowance will be implemented from 6 July 2020.
  • The increase to the base rate will be $25 per week per child.
  • Funding will also be provided to our Care partners, like Barnardos or Open Home Foundation, to meet this increase to the Foster Care Allowance. The timing for this implementation will be similar to Oranga Tamariki.
  • As the Birthday and Christmas Allowances are set at half the weekly Foster Care Allowance, caregivers will also see an increase to these payments after 6 July 2020.
  • Caregivers who receive the Foster Care Allowance will be entitled to 20 days paid respite care per child from 1 June 2020 for the next year. 
  • This entitlement has risen from the previous two days paid respite per child per year.
  • We will be working with our caregivers individually on how this respite can be applied.