Support and assistance for permanent caregivers
Updated: 01 July 2016
What's Important To Us
Caregivers have told us that effective support is crucial. Research tells us that effective support can help reduce caregiver strain, reduce placement disruption, and is a predictor of a positive placement outcome. In New Zealand, it has been found that although financial pressures are not a barrier to stability, they can contribute to high stress experienced by caregivers leading to placement breakdown.
Support for Permanent Caregivers is critical because:
- mokopuna transitioning from care are particularly vulnerable and require ongoing support.
- Permanent Caregivers need effective, responsive, and individualised support. This includes specialist assistance that is available both now and in the future.
- adequate support for caregivers can help reduce carer strain and reduce placement disruption and is a predictor of a positive placement outcome.
- Pro-active planning supports placement stability.
Decisions regarding the provision of support must be responsive to individual need, fair, consistent and based on the best interests of mokopuna.
This key information outlines the support available to permanent caregivers for the immediate and future needs of mokopuna in their care.
The Permanent Caregiver support package
The Permanent Caregiver support package consists of:
- reasonable legal costs for the proposed Permanent Caregivers
- a $2,500 upfront payment to contribute to the individual needs of the mokopuna (after legal orders are granted)
- access to the National Fostercare Training Programme
- an individualised support plan for up to 12 months
- a referral to the Permanent Caregiver Support Service which will administer, monitor and review the support plan
- linking the proposed Permanent Caregivers to Work and Income NZ to discuss their financial entitlements
- ability to access financial and other assistance from the Permanent Caregiver Support Service until the mokopuna reaches 18 years.
This package is available to two distinct groups of Permanent Caregivers, those who:
- are defined as Permanent Caregivers by the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989
- are whānau caregivers providing a permanent living arrangement for a mokopuna without taking legal orders when the custody orders in favour of the chief executive have been discharged.
Payment of legal costs when seeking orders
We will pay agreed reasonable legal fees for caregivers who are seeking orders to support the stability and security of mokopuna.
We will pay reasonable costs (usually no more than 10 hours) for the filing applications to obtain orders in a non-contested case. The solicitor responsible for your site can provide more information about the rates and total amount that can be paid for legal costs.
If a case is complex and requires more funding or ongoing work, obtain an estimate from the lawyer and seek your site managers' approval for additional funding. A prompt response to such requests from the site manager will ensure that the legal process is not unnecessarily delayed.
For Permanent Caregivers defending any subsequent proceedings brought by birth parents, or seeking variations to their legal orders, funding is provided at the discretion of the site manager and approval should be sought first.
If the application is not in the best interests of mokopuna then this will not be supported.
The $2,500 grant and baby-starter set up package
The $2,500 is a payment for all Permanent Caregivers to provide for the individual needs of the mokopuna. The payment recognises that there may be increased costs of additional mokopuna in the home but is not calculated to reflect or replace any sum of money that would otherwise have been paid.
A payment will be made for each mokopuna when parenting or guardianship orders have been made to the Permanent Caregivers, or in agreed circumstances where a permanent care arrangement has been secured with a family/whānau caregiver without legal orders in place.
Caregivers with mokopuna under two years old will be offered a baby starter financial package to purchase baby items such as a high chair, cot, clothing and other things needed to start caring for a baby. These items can be provided as soon as caregivers start caring for a baby.
Information should be provided to caregivers regarding entitlements and supports. Mokopuna may be entitled to supports that their caregivers do not know about. It is our responsibility to provide information and advocate on behalf of caregivers.
Individualised support plan for up to 12 months.
Good planning is integral to achieving enduring living arrangements which support mokopuna wellbeing. Before permanent living arrangements have been formalised, and orders in favour of the chief executive have been discharged, support and services required by the caregiver and mokopuna will be outlined in a permanent care support plan.
For Permanent Caregivers who require it, an individualised support plan for up to 12 months, based on the needs of the mokopuna, will be negotiated and agreed to by all parties involved. The plan will be implemented, monitored and reviewed by the Permanent Caregiver Support Service after permanent living arrangements have been formalised.
Permanent Caregiver Support Service
The Permanent Caregiver Support Service is responsible for administering post permanency support for Permanent Caregivers (as defined by Oranga Tamariki and/or Legal definition).
How does the Permanent Caregiver Support Service provide post permanency support?
The Permanent Caregiver Support Service administer two distinct processes – overseeing and reviewing permanent care support plans and responding to permanent caregiver requests for financial and other assistance which arise in the future.
If a new need arises, or an existing support plan is not adequately meeting the needs of the mokopuna, a Permanent Caregiver can approach the Permanent Caregiver Support Service directly for financial and other assistance. Caregivers who seek assistance through an Oranga Tamariki site or the National Contact Centre will be advised to contact the Permanent Caregiver Support Service.
It is important that decisions regarding financial and other assistance for Permanent Caregivers are streamlined, efficient, and consistent to support the stability and security of mokopuna with their Permanent Caregivers.
The Permanent Caregiver Support Service is responsible for :
- deciding whether the request for financial and other assistance meets the legislative criteria (s388A Oranga Tamariki Act 1989)
- assessing and agreeing the level and nature of support to be provided
- implementing and co-ordinating the support - this may include a financial payment and/or referral to an approved service provider such as an NGO/Iwi Provider or a local social service/agency in the community.
If a Permanent Caregiver is dissatisfied with the decision of the Permanent Caregiver Support Service in response to their request for financial and other assistance, they can request a review of the decision.
Referring to the Permanent Caregiver Support Service - when and why?
A referral to the Permanent Caregiver Support Service will be made in every case where a caregiver has confirmed their intention to become and Permanent Caregiver and provide a permanent living arrangement for mokopuna. We want caregivers and mokopuna to experience a smooth transition to post-care support so the timing of your referral and planning is crucial.
Talk to the caregiver about the referral and the role of the Permanent Caregiver Support Service. It is important they understand the process and how it can support them.
There may be some Permanent Caregivers who do not need support or do not want to engage with the Permanent Caregiver Support Service. Ensure that Permanent Caregivers are aware that they can make a request for assistance at any time in the future if support is required for the mokopuna. Advise them it is in their best interests to have their details registered with the Permanent Caregiver Support Service through a referral, to prevent any delays in processing any future requests.
Keeping the Permanent Caregiver Support Service updated
Advise the Permanent Caregiver Support Service if there are any delays in the court proceedings (for example, due to the birthparents or usual guardians defending the application or delays in hearing dates).
Liaise with the Permanent Caregiver Support Service if support plans are amended due to a change in needs before orders are finalised.
Financial support through Work and Income
Permanent Caregivers are eligible to receive the Unsupported Child's Benefit after the legal orders have been made in their favour. This benefit is administered through Work and Income. Other supplementary assistance, such as the Child Disability Allowance and Child Care Subsidy, may also be available.
You need to assist caregivers in accessing supports through Work and Income.
Work and Income will require the following information:
- the child or young person's birth certificate
- the caregivers passport or birth certificate, their IRD number and a full bank statement
- a copy of the parenting or guardianship order
- details of any income the mokopuna receives.
We will help caregivers to make applications for Child Support.