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Family carers can expect a little more in the kitty next month.
Social Development Minister Paula Bennett has announced a round of new funding to support family members who look after children, including grandparents who take on the care of grandchildren.
"Some of these children have suffered abuse or neglect or the death of a parent, and other family members who step in often find it both emotionally and financially challenging," Mrs Bennett said.
The grants include a one-off payment of $350 for a carer who applies for the Orphan's benefit or the Unsupported Child's benefit, and from between $250 to $400 to assist with school costs.
There are 261 people who receive the Orphan's and Unsupported Child's benefits in the Taranaki region, with 127 of those living in New Plymouth and 72 in Hawera.
The extra support for carers was originally signalled in the 2012 White Paper on Vulnerable Children and recognises the role they play in the lives of their youngest family members.
"Many carers are doing a tough job on limited incomes and these cash injections will make a huge difference to them managing," said Mrs Bennett.
Fostering Kids chief executive Linda Surtees said she was happy with the announcement as family carers had been badly neglected in the past.
"They're a major step forward really," she said.
Fostering Kids is a nationwide service offering support and training to foster carers and their families, with a regional co-ordinator available for people living in Taranaki.
Mrs Surtees said the lack of preparedness was an issue for some caregivers, which often meant they struggled.
"Quite often carers will go along to a meeting and come back with a child," she said.
The additional funding will provide them with a way to get the basics in place.
"It's going to make life and the transition into these homes [of the children] a lot easier," Mrs Surtees said.
Another initiative is the Extraordinary Care fund, which will be available from July 2014.
This is a discretionary fund which families can use to access specialist help such as therapy.
For more information on the payments go to www.workandincome.govt.nz.
For more information about Fostering Kids go to www.fosteringkids.org.nz.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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