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Page URL: https://practice.orangatamariki.govt.nz/our-work/care/caregivers/support-for-caregivers/higher-fostercare-allowance/
Printed: 19/05/2024
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Last updated: 07/12/2020

Higher fostercare allowance

The higher fostercare allowance (HFCA) is used when a caregiver requires additional and specific financial support to meet the needs of te tamaiti in their care that is most effectively and efficiently provided through a regular higher rate of payment.

Upcoming changes for this guidance

This content will be strengthened so it more completely reflects our commitment to practice framed by te Tiriti o Waitangi, based on a mana-enhancing paradigm for practice, and drawing from ​Te Ao Māori principles of oranga to support mana tamaiti, whakapapa and whanaungatanga. We each need to consider how we can apply these principles to our practice when reading this guidance. The following resources provide support:
Practice for working effectively with Māori
Our practice approach

What the higher fostercare allowance is

The higher fostercare allowance is a payment that is added to the standard caregiver allowance paid to the caregiver. The higher fostercare allowance can only be used if the caregiver already receives the caregiver allowance.

Allowances to support tamariki and rangatahi in care or custody and their caregivers

For most tamariki and rangatahi, the standard allowance meets the cost of their care-related needs. Where te tamaiti or rangatahi has additional needs, the higher fostercare allowance can be used to cover the extra cost associated with caring for them.

The higher fostercare allowance is a specific dollar amount that directly relates to actual and demonstrable costs with a timeframe for review.

When we use it

As soon as the social worker for te tamaiti identifies through the assessment any additional needs (such as when we are developing the All About Me plan), they work with the caregiver social worker to explore options for supporting the caregiver to meet those needs.

If the higher fostercare allowance is approved as the most effective and efficient means of providing some aspects of additional financial support, the caregiver social worker writes it into the caregiver support plan. The higher fostercare allowance is reviewed when the caregiver support plan is reviewed (at least every 6 months).

We also respond quickly if a caregiver asks for help at any other time. We will assess the circumstances, and options for resolution. The higher fostercare allowance may be applied for and included in the caregiver support plan at any time after the care arrangement has started.

What are additional needs

Tamariki and rangatahi may have a range of additional needs to ensure their mana is enhanced and that require additional support from their caregivers.

Examples include:

  • If te tamaiti or rangatahi is extremely withdrawn or aggressive, at risk of self-harming, or displaying concerning or harmful sexual behaviour, they may require more intensive support, or focused attention or care.
  • Te tamaiti or rangatahi may have a physical or medical condition that requires extra care such as home nursing, or support, a special diet or being taken to regular appointments for assessment or treatment.
  • There may be extra tasks or additional help required to meet the needs of te tamaiti or rangatahi if they have significant development delays.
  • Te tamaiti or rangatahi may require access to additional therapeutic services, recreation, hobbies, creative pursuits, or skills building to support stability.
  • The caregiver may need to spend considerable effort or provide more intense emotional and psychological support to ensure positive connections to whānau (such as coordinating sibling contact, or attendance at whānau hui/gatherings), and to meet the needs of te tamaiti or rangatahi, especially to address whakapapa and whanaungatanga. (For further advice consult your kairaranga ā-whānau or get other Māori cultural advice. Possible examples: koha for a regular marae stay, korero to learn whakapapa.
    Practice for working effectively with Māori
    Working with Pacific peoples: Va'aifetū

How we use it

1 Identify additional needs, and the support required to meet them

The social worker for te tamaiti develops the All About Me plan and the caregiver social worker develops the caregiver support plan. Both are completed with te tamaiti, their whānau or family, others relevant to the plan, and their caregiver.

The social workers discuss the needs identified in the All About Me plan that may require additional support for the caregiver.

The caregiver social worker discusses those needs with the caregiver to better understand what is needed to support te tamaiti or rangatahi and how the caregiver might see themselves doing that.

Both social workers generate creative and sustainable solutions and options using caregiver and whānau or family strengths and local networks, as well as services and programmes.

If the higher fostercare allowance is identified, they determine the dollar amount. This needs to be done in conjunction with other relevant policy and guidance – for example, if it’s used to meet the cost of regular travel, the relevant rate per kilometre should be applied.

Policy: Caregiver support – financial support

2 Complete the higher fostercare allowance application form

The social worker for te tamaiti completes the CYRAS template application form. They specify the need identified in the All About Me plan, the support required to address the need and how much it will cost.

3 Application is endorsed and then approved

The social worker for te tamaiti asks their supervisor to endorse (or otherwise comment on) the application.

They then ask the delegated manager to approve or decline the application.

If the manager requires any changes in the application (such as a shorter review time or a change to the dollar amount), they send the social worker a CYRAS reminder requesting the further work. Any altered application is re-submitted to the manager for approval. The caregiver social worker will be consulted in the final request process.

4 Inform caregivers

When approval is given, the caregiver must be advised in writing. A letter signed by the approving manager is appropriate for this. The caregiver social worker asks the caregiver to sign off the caregiver support plan so they’re fully aware of the details of the higher fostercare allowance, including the rate, purpose and timeframe covering the start date and the review date.  

5 Review the higher fostercare allowance

The allowance is reviewed at the same time as the caregiver support plan – at least every 6 months.

The higher fostercare allowance can also be reviewed whenever circumstances change. The social worker for te tamaiti and the caregiver social worker will consult about the higher fostercare allowance in the review process. Any changes are approved by the delegated manager. The two social workers must work together to ensure the process is completed, transparent and aligned to this guidance. The caregiver is informed of any change.

Exemplar: appropriate use of the higher fostercare allowance

Mary is the mother of 3 primary school children and is an approved Oranga Tamariki caregiver for her nephew, Tom, aged 12. Tom has recently been stood down from school and, as part of his transition back into education, is now attending only in the mornings. In the afternoons he is at home with Mary, who has been able to adjust her working hours to accommodate this in the short term by working night shift. Mary's mum, Sally, is approved as a respite caregiver for Tom and sleeps at Mary's house when Mary is at work.

On Wednesday afternoons Tom now goes to an equine therapy facility, which is a 40-minute drive from his home. This is identified in his All About Me plan as being something that is beneficial for Tom and something he engages in well. Mary drives him there and brings him back. By the time they get home it is 5pm and Mary's other children have finished school, dinner needs to be cooked and Mary still needs to tend to her other children and get ready for work later in the evening.

Mary has identified with her caregiver social worker that she is struggling to get everything done on a Wednesday evening and that more generally she is finding it hard to keep up with the housework.

The higher fostercare allowance could be used to:

  • provide a regular koha to the equine therapy facility or individual for additional attention for Tom
  • pay for the travel required for the equine therapy (caregiver regular travel policy applies)
  • pay for Mary's other children to attend after-school care on Wednesdays
  • pay for a pre-prepared meal on Wednesday nights
  • pay for someone to clean the house once a week.