Applications for the Unsupported Child's Benefit and Child Support
Updated: 10 November 2013
Raising children is expensive and financial stress can have a big impact on families. Financial support for those families/whānau caring for children and young people who are not in the custody of the chief executive is available through Work and Income or Inland Revenue.
Applying for the right financial support can be confusing for families/whānau and the support of the child or caregiver's social worker to help them through the process is often appreciated.
Financial support through Work and Income
Most families are eligible to receive the Unsupported Child's Benefit which is administered through Work and Income. The website details the eligibility criteria for the benefit, but generally the child or young person has to be 18 years old or younger, financially dependent on the person looking after them, and not able to be cared for by their parents. Examples of families/whānau who would be eligible for this benefit are ones who are looking after a child in a home for life, through a family group conference plan, or a family/whānau agreement.
The applicant has to be over 18 years of age, expect the child or young person to live with them for more than 12 months, be a New Zealand citizen or resident, and not be a parent (including adoptive or step parent) to the child. The child or young person's parents will be consulted as part of this process, unless a family group conference plan or court order have determined this arrangement.
The rate of the Unsupported Child's Benefit is the same as the Oranga Tamariki foster care allowance. Other supplementary assistance may also be available, for example a Child Disability Allowance and Child Care Subsidy.
If the adult caring for the child is working, they may also qualify for Inland Revenue's In-work Tax Credit.
The social worker is to ensure that prospective home for life parents have met with a Work and Income case manager to clarify their entitlements and have made any applications prior to the discharge of orders against the chief executive. An application for the Unsupported Child's Benefit can be made up to 20 days before the custody order to the chief executive is discharged.
When making an application, Work and Income will require the following information:
- the child or young person's birth certificate
- the passport or birth certificate of the adult caring for the child, their Inland Revenue number and a full bank statement
- a copy of the parenting or guardianship order, or a letter from Oranga Tamariki confirming which orders have been made
- details of any income the child or young person receives.
The applicant will also be expected to make an application to Inland Revenue for Child Support as part of their application for the Unsupported Child's Benefit, which may affect the birth parents’ income. If a home for life parent is a family/whānau member, this expectation could be discussed at a family/whānau hui. Ensure this has been discussed with the birth parents early in the process and that the home for life parent is aware of how to keep their personal details confidential if this is required.
Financial support through Inland Revenue
Rather than claim the Unsupported Child's Benefit, some adults caring for children and young people not in the custody of the chief executive may wish to only claim Child Support. Child Support can be considered as an alternative to the Unsupported Child's Benefit, especially if the child or young person's parent is working.
Child Support is administered through Inland Revenue who collect money from parents not living with their children to help financially support them. This money is then passed on to the person caring for the child. Their website details the eligibility criteria for qualifying for Child Support but generally the child or young person has to be under 19 years of age, not married or in a de-facto relationship, and financially dependent.
Families/whānau may also be able to claim other financial support through Inland Revenue such as the Working for Families Tax Credit.
Non-disclosure of caregiver details
When a Child Support application is made (including when it is part of an Unsupported Child's Benefit application), it is standard practice for the details of the adult caring for the child to be entered on the application form (IR101) to be passed on to the child or young person's parents.
In some cases however, safety concerns may mean it is inappropriate to disclose these details to the parents of the child or young person (which includes birth parents, step parents and adoptive parents) as part of the IR101 application.
In these cases, the adult caring for the child or young person should be advised to answer section 5 of the IR101 “What name does the custodian want the paying parent to know them by?” by using their first name only (or an alias first name) and writing the words ‘surname withheld’.
Social workers are to supply the adult caring for the child with a letter to Work and Income supporting the use of their first name only (or an alias first name). Work and Income will attach this letter to the Child Support application form (IR101) when submitted to Inland Revenue.
When it is considered unsafe for the adult caring for the child or young person to disclose their full name, the social worker is to discuss with them whether it is also appropriate for them to remove their name from other publicly available databases (e.g. New Zealand phone directory and electoral roll).
If Inland Revenue receives an Official Information Act request for the adult caring for the child or young person, they will transfer the request to Oranga Tamariki to respond. Please forward these requests directly to Ministerial and Executive Services National Office.