All of New Zealand is at the COVID-19 orange setting. Please read the guidance.

COVID-19: implications for our practice

Page URL: https://practice.orangatamariki.govt.nz/our-work/interventions/child-support-unsupported-childs-benefit-and-orphans-benefit/
Printed: 28/06/2022
Printed pages may be out of date. Please check this information is current before using it in your practice.

Last updated: 09/06/2022

Child Support, Unsupported Child's Benefit and Orphan's Benefit

We can help people caring for tamariki or rangatahi who are not in the custody of the Oranga Tamariki chief executive to apply for financial support through Child Support, the Unsupported Child’s Benefit and the Orphan's Benefit.

Updates made to this guidance

The sections on Child Support and the Unsupported Child's Benefit have been updated, and some changes were made to the section on supplementary assistance. A general section on how we help caregivers access financial support has been added, along with a section on the Orphan's Benefit.

Upcoming changes for this guidance

We are currently undertaking a more detailed review of our approach to Child Support. All of this content will also 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 shift

Helping caregivers access financial support

Te Manatū Whakahiato Ora (Ministry of Social Development), Te Tari Taake (Inland Revenue) and Te Hiranga Tangata (Work and Income) have a number of benefits or financial supports available to caregivers who are not receiving board payments through Oranga Tamariki. We may need to work with these caregivers to:

  • help them understand the financial impact of caring for te tamaiti or rangatahi and the support they may require
  • encourage them to find out what financial support they or te tamaiti or rangatahi are eligible for
  • support and enable them through advocacy to navigate the systems effectively (for example, we could contact the Ministry of Social Development for them)

The Ministry of Social Development caseworker will be able to help caregivers to identify which financial support is appropriate to their particular circumstances.

Child Support

Child Support is administered through Te Tari Taake (Inland Revenue), which collects money from parents not living with their tamariki or rangatahi and gives it to the person caring for te tamaiti or rangatahi. The Te Tari Taake website details the eligibility criteria for qualifying for Child Support but generally te tamaiti or rangatahi must be:

  • under 19 years of age
  • not married or in a de-facto relationship
  • financially dependent on the caregiver.

As Child Support will affect the parents’ income, we discuss this with the parents early in the process. For whānau or family permanent caregivers, this discussion could occur at a whānau or family hui.

We advise people caring for tamariki or rangatahi not in the care or custody of Oranga Tamariki that, if the parent of te tamaiti or rangatahi is working, they should apply for Child Support before they apply for the Unsupported Child’s Benefit.

Oranga Tamariki as a rule applies for Child Support though Inland Revenue for all tamariki in our custody.

Child Support | Te Tari Taake Inland Revenue

Unsupported Child's Benefit

To be eligible for the Unsupported Child's Benefit, caregivers no longer need to confirm that te tamaiti or rangatahi will be in their care for the next 12 months.

The Unsupported Child's Benefit is a weekly payment made by Te Manatū Whakahiato Ora (Ministry of Social Development) to support the care and oranga (wellbeing) of tamariki or rangatahi who are unable to live with their parents or usual caregiver because there has been a whānau or family breakdown. This benefit is not means tested but adjustments may be made if a rangatahi is earning or financially independent.

The Unsupported Child's Benefit includes:

  • a one-off grant, paid automatically in the first payment, to help buy things like a bed and bedding, or clothes
  • clothing, birthday and holiday allowances – these are paid automatically.

Caregivers can also apply for special payments to support te tamaiti or rangatahi to develop their skills and talents.

Unsupported Child’s Benefit | Work and Income

Income Tax Act 2007: Definitions | legislation.govt.nz

Eligibility

The Unsupported Child's Benefit is paid to the caregiver of a dependent tamaiti or rangatahi who is:

  • 18 years or under or until the end of the calendar year in which they turn 18
  • financially dependent on their caregiver
  • being cared for primarily by the caregiver – this can include when a tamaiti or rangatahi is attending a boarding school or special school, or is overseas on a student exchange programme
  • not receiving payments provided for under section 363 of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989.

If te tamaiti or rangatahi is transitioning out of our custody into the custody of whānau or family, the whānau or family can apply for the Unsupported Child's Benefit up to 20 days before the custody order to the chief executive is discharged.

To be eligible to receive the Unsupported Child’s Benefit, the caregiver must:

  • be aged 18 or over
  • be a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident
  • have the primary responsibility for the day-to-day care of te tamaiti or rangatahi
  • not be the natural or adoptive parent or step-parent of te tamaiti or rangatahi.

To support caregivers to apply for the Unsupported Child’s Benefit, we can:

  • discuss what support they need to apply for the Unsupported Child’s Benefit – this may include helping them to talk directly with Te Manatū Whakahiato Ora (Ministry of Social Development)
  • ensure they have a letter to support their application that confirms they are caring for te tamaiti or rangatahi who is unable to live at home
  • help the caregiver provide any other documents requested by Te Manatū Whakahiato Ora (Ministry of Social Development), such as:
    • a full birth certificate for te tamaiti or rangatahi
    • a copy of the custody or guardianship agreement if there is one
    • details about any income te tamaiti or rangatahi may be receiving
    • family group conference outcomes, court orders or court-approved plans if these have occurred
    • names, addresses, phone numbers, and details about places of work of the parents of te tamaiti or rangatahi.

Care and protection family group conference

Policy: Ensuring a safe, stable and loving home for tamariki in care

Any information shared will need to be done in line with the information sharing provisions of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989.

Policy: Sharing information

Where a report of concern in relation to another tamaiti in the home results in a rangatahi having to move from a placement where the caregiver has been receiving the Unsupported Child's Benefit, we need to consider what financial support the rangatahi may be eligible to receive – for example, Youth Payment.

Youth Payment

A rangatahi is not automatically entitled to this payment and confirmation of the breakdown of the living arrangement with the caregiver receiving the Unsupported Child's Benefit, not the parent or legal guardian, will be required for this entitlement to be established.

Role of the independent assessor

Before granting the Unsupported Child’s Benefit, the Ministry of Social Development caseworker may ask the whānau or family, te tamaiti or rangatahi and the caregiver to work with an independent assessor to better understand why te tamaiti or rangatahi cannot live at home.

The independent assessor has 10 working days to complete the assessment. They meet with the person applying for the benefit and with rangatahi if they’re over 14 years. They may contact the parents or previous legal caregivers of te tamaiti or rangatahi. They may also ask Oranga Tamariki for more information. We support the independent assessor by:

  • communicating with them in a timely way
  • sharing relevant information that helps them to understand why te tamaiti or rangatahi is unable to live at home, in line with the Oranga Tamariki Act information sharing provisions.

Policy: Sharing information

Orphan's Benefit

Some caregivers may be eligible for the Orphan's Benefit. This is a weekly payment for caregivers supporting tamariki or rangatahi whose parents have died, cannot be found, or cannot look after them because they have a serious long-term health condition or incapacity that prevents them being able to care for their tamaiti or rangatahi.

The Orphan's Benefit includes:

  • a one-off grant, paid automatically in the first payment, to help buy things like a bed and bedding, or clothes 
  • clothing, birthday and holiday allowances these are paid automatically.

Caregivers can also apply for special payments to support te tamaiti or rangatahi develop their skills and talents. 

Orphan's Benefit | Work and Income

Supplementary assistance available

Caregivers not receiving payments under section 363 of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 may be eligible for other financial assistance through Te Hiranga Tangata (Work and Income), including:

  • Child Disability Allowance – a fortnightly payment made to the main carer of a tamaiti or rangatahi with a serious disability
    Child Disability Allowance
  • Childcare Subsidy – a payment for low- or middle-income whānau or families to support with the cost of pre-school childcare
    Childcare Subsidy
  • Working for Families – a tax credit to support low-income whānau or family caring for tamariki or rangatahi aged 18 and under.
    Working for Families: In-work tax credit