Review of financial assistance for caregivers

Caregivers have told us that people who look after children do it because they want to make a difference in a child’s life. To support this we provide financial help to meet the day-to-day expenses that looking after a child involves.

In 2019 Oranga Tamariki carried out a review into the financial assistance provided to caregivers. The findings of this review have now been released and Government has agreed that changes need to be made. We’re pleased this has resulted in some immediate additional support for caregivers, and that we can continue to work towards creating a more simplified and equitable caregiver payment system.

What is the review about?

We wanted to take a thorough look at the financial assistance caregivers receive to make sure it meets the needs of children and their caregivers.

Changes to payments to caregivers have taken place over the years, but there has not been a fundamental review and adjustments have not always kept pace with societal changes.

The review considered the Foster Care Allowance (including the Higher Foster Care Allowance), Orphan’s Benefit, Unsupported Child’s Benefit and their associated payments. It considered the level and consistency of these payments and the appropriateness of the eligibility criteria.

Read Minister Martin’s press release announcement

Who did we consult with?

We wanted to hear what caregivers had to say on issues that affect them and the children in their care, including the financial support they receive. We also wanted to hear from care-experienced young people as well as Oranga Tamariki staff, NGOs and iwi/Māori and Pacific organisations.

We completed a series of consultation sessions with caregivers across the country throughout June and July. We also heard from many caregivers through our online questionnaire.

We also consulted with care-experienced young people as well as Oranga Tamariki staff, NGOs and iwi/Māori and Pacific organisations.

The engagement findings

The engagement with caregivers found that although most caregivers receive a lot of enjoyment from the role, they would like to feel more valued. 

Most caregivers said the payment did not adequately cover the costs of having a child in their care, and for many, becoming a caregiver had impacted on them financially.

We also heard about the unique challenges faced by Māori and Pacific caregivers, and the need for caregivers to access a wide range of support for their wellbeing, along with appropriate training to help them meet the needs of the children they care for.

The Summary of Engagement Findings provides further detail of what was heard during the consultation period.

The review findings

Following the consultation period, the voices of caregivers, care-experienced young people, and a range of stakeholders guided the policy proposals developed for the Minister for Children.

Several issues with caregiver payments were identified. There were inconsistencies between payments which had led to inequities, and the system was overly complex and difficult for caregivers to navigate. 

In December 2019 the Minister for Children took the Cabinet paper and the Summary of Engagement Findings to Cabinet to be considered.

The Government response to the review

The Government has agreed to address the findings of the review, including:

  • making some initial changes to address some of the immediate issues
  • a multi-year programme of work to simplify and unify the payment system for all caregiver payments, and ensure that it is equitable
  • an overarching framework to set the direction for the development of an improved system, through a set of objectives and principles.

The Cabinet paper and associated minute provides the full scope of the work programmes.

Read the cabinet paper and minute regarding financial assistance for caregivers

What's happening now?

The Government response to the review, informed by the views and experiences gathered through consultation, will be outlined in 2020.

Cabinet paper and minute

We have proactively published the paper agreed to by the Cabinet Social Wellbeing Committee on 1 May 2019.

Read the cabinet paper and minute regarding financial assistance for caregivers

Published: June 14, 2019 · Updated: July 6, 2020