Investing in our children

Budget 2018 reinforces the Coalition Government’s commitment to improving care and assistance for the children and young people most in need, says Minister for Children Tracey Martin.

“We know there’s nothing more important to New Zealand than the wellbeing of its children. The investments we are announcing today will better support caregivers, fund increased demand for child services and represent another step in the change required to transform New Zealand’s system of care and protection for children and young people,” says Tracey Martin.

“Oranga Tamariki–Ministry for Children was established last year and some of its funding was time-limited. There are a number of areas with current funding pressures or where extra money is required to expand what it does.

“This Budget provides Oranga Tamariki $269.9 million over the next four years to expand its services.

“This includes Oranga Tamariki receiving $141.6 million over the next four years so more children and young people receive the care they need. This extra funding will provide for additional care placements, allow for pay increases for social workers and upgrade tools such as IT systems that help social workers do their jobs.

“Over four years, a total of $139.5 million in operating funds will also be provided for changes that allow 17-year-olds to be included in the youth justice system. This funding – of which $13.4 million goes to Vote Courts – will provide for more Family Group Conferences and community responses, including extra remand beds.

“Oranga Tamariki also receives $2.2 million for one year for a trial to improve the Family Group Conference process for tamariki Māori.

In addition to the extra funding for Ministry services, Budget 2018 extra support for people caring for children who aren’t their own, no matter what their relationship is with the child, says Tracey Martin.

“Carers, such as grandparents, have had to cover too much of the extra costs associated with raising children.

“Three years ago, Parliament unanimously supported the private member’s bill I took on the issue, the Social Security (Clothing Allowances for Orphans and Unsupported Children) Amendment Act 2015). The Coalition Government’s first Budget puts the required money behind it.

“We are providing $104.9 million of new operating funding over the next four years to provide a clothing allowance for children on the Orphan’s Benefit or Unsupported Child’s Benefit, paid at the same rate as the clothing allowance provided for children in foster care.

“The new funding will ensure that carers, such as grandparents, are entitled to a clothing allowance of up to $1,500 a year for the children they’re looking after. The new allowance comes into effect on 1 July 2018.

“This Government has committed to putting the wellbeing of children at the heart of what we do and Budget 2018 represents a significant step forward in this,” Tracey Martin says.