COVID-19 response

If you are looking for the latest legal information relating current Coronavirus laws in New Zealand, check out our new section: Coronavirus and the Law.

Communtity Law Manual | Work & Income | You’re caring for someone else’s child

Types of benefits

You’re caring for someone else’s child

People (other than foster parents) who are caring for someone else’s child may qualify for:

  • the Unsupported Child’s Benefit, if the parents can’t support the child because of a family breakdown, or
  • the Orphan’s Benefit, if the parents are dead or can’t be found or have a long-term illness.

Alternatively, if you’re single and caring for someone else’s child who is under 14, you may qualify for your own benefit: Sole Parent Support (see “Adult parents with younger children (Sole Parent Support)” above in this section).

Rates for the Unsupported Child’s Benefit and Orphan’s Benefit vary according to the age of the child.

Note: Foster parents of children who are in the care of Oranga Tamariki / Ministry for Children (which has replaced Child, Youth and Family) qualify for financial assistance from the Oranga Tamariki, in the form of the Foster Care Allowance, rather than from Work and Income. For information, go to: www.orangatamariki.govt.nz/caring-for-someone/financial-help

There’s been a family breakdown: Unsupported Child’s Benefit

Social Security Act 2018, ss 46, 47

The Unsupported Child’s Benefit is paid to the caregiver of a child if:

  • because of a breakdown in the child’s family, no parent or step-parent is able to care for the child or fully support them, and
  • this situation is likely to last for at least 12 months.

The caregiver must be at least 18, and the child must be under 18.

There are also specific residency requirements:

  • the child must be both resident and present in New Zealand, or
  • the caregiver must have been resident and present continuously for at least 12 months.

To assess whether there has been a family breakdown, the caregiver and the natural parents will be interviewed, as will others such as teachers or social workers. If the child is under 13, the assessment will be carried out by Work and Income. If the child is 13 or older, the assessment will be carried out by an independent organisation, which will then make a recommendation to Work and Income.

Parents are dead or disabled: Orphan’s Benefit

Social Security Act 2018, ss 43, 44

An Orphan’s Benefit is paid to the caregiver of a child if:

  • each of the child’s parents is dead, or can’t be found, or has a serious long-term disability so that they are unable to care for the child, and
  • the caregiver is likely to be the main caregiver for at least 12 months.

The caregiver must be at least 18, and the child must be under 18.

There are also specific residency requirements:

  • the child must be both resident and present in New Zealand, or
  • the caregiver must have been resident and present continuously for at least 12 months.

Income-testing

Neither the Unsupported Child Benefit nor the Orphan’s Benefit is income-tested.

However, if you’re receiving one of those benefits, Work and Income will take this into account if you also apply for ongoing hardship assistance (that is, Temporary Additional Support: see “Temporary Additional Support: Extra ongoing help with hardship” under “Other benefits and allowances”).

Challenging decisions about the Unsupported Child’s Benefit or Orphan’s Benefit

You can challenge a Work and Income decision not to grant the Unsupported Child’s Benefit or the Orphan’s Benefit by applying for a review by a Benefit Review Committee (see “Challenging Work and Income decisions: Reviews and appeals” in this chapter).

School and Year Start-up Payment

If you get the Unsupported Child’s Benefit or Orphan’s Benefit, you can also apply for the School and Year Start-up Payment, to help with costs that mostly come up at the beginning of the year, in particular pre-school and school-related costs such as clothing, school fees and stationery.

To receive the payment, you need to apply every year between mid-January and the end of February. You should be paid within 10 days.

Establishment Grant

When you get the Unsupported Child’s Benefit or Orphan’s Benefit, you will usually receive a one-off grant of $350 for each child. This is to help you with the costs when a child first comes into your care, such as a bed, bedding and clothing.

Extraordinary Care Fund

In special circumstances, those who get the Unsupported Child’s Benefit or Orphan’s Benefit can apply for additional financial assistance from the Extraordinary Care Fund. The fund helps with costs for children who are showing promise or who are having difficulties that are affecting their development. Contact Work and Income for more information.

back to top
Page Reader Press Enter to Read Page Content Out LoudPress Enter to Pause or Restart Reading Page Content Out LoudPress Enter to Stop Reading Page Content Out LoudScreen Reader Support