Orphan’s Benefit & Unsupported Child’s Benefit: Caregiver Engagement Report
Published: March 2, 2023
This report is based on an online engagement survey we conducted in June 2021 with caregivers receiving the Orphan’s Benefit or Unsupported Child’s Benefit. Over 2,000 caregivers responded to the engagement survey. In addition, in July and August 2021, NielsenIQ conducted 5 focus groups with caregivers receiving the Unsupported Child's Benefit.
The Review of Financial Assistance for Caregivers
In 2019, Oranga Tamariki began a review of financial assistance for caregivers receiving the Foster Care Allowance, Orphan’s Benefit, or the Unsupported Child’s Benefit. Those caring for tamariki outside of the State care system (receiving Orphan's Benefit or Unsupported Child's Benefit) are a key cohort of this review.
The review was intended to address issues with financial assistance for caregivers. This resulted in some immediate additional support, including:
- a $25 increase to the weekly rates of these benefits (July 2020)
- extending eligibility for the Orphan's Benefit/Unsupported Child's Benefit to caregivers who provide care to a tamaiti for less than 12 months (July 2021)
- extending holiday and birthday allowances to Orphan's Benefit and Unsupported Child's Benefit caregivers.
The Orphan's Benefit/Unsupported Child's Benefit Caregivers
Around 13,000 caregivers receive the Unsupported Child's Benefit where a tamaiti has experienced events that have led to a family breakdown, or where the natural or adopted parent(s) or step-parent can’t care for them.
There are around 350 caregivers receiving the Orphan's Benefit. They are caring for a tamaiti who has experienced one of the following:
- natural or adopted parent(s) or stepparent have died
- parent(s) can’t be found, or
- parent(s) can’t look after them because of a long-term health condition or incapacity.
The engagement with caregivers showed that:
- caregivers wanted better access to information about available support and entitlements
- the process for applying for the benefits should be simpler and easier with more support provided and greater understanding shown for the circumstances and needs of applicants
- caregivers often felt under-prepared and needed help from agencies, both financial and non-financial, along with better access to mental health and respite services
- caregivers also wanted more opportunities to learn new skills to support their caregiving role, such as how to deal with emotional/behavioural issues and trauma in tamariki.
Insights from the engagement report have improved our understanding of the financial and non-financial needs of caregivers outside of State care and helped to inform the ongoing work to reform the assistance and support provided to caregivers. A new model of support has been developed for these caregivers and the children that they care for.
This work continues to inform ongoing work in this area. Oranga Tamariki are now engaging with partners on the new model of care.