In this section:
For most grandparents and whanau caregivers who take on the full-time care of children it involves significant financial challenges and readjustments to their lives.
Apart from having extra mouths to feed each day, it seems like there are endless extra costs and expenses involved from the simple day-to-day clothing and bedding needs, to paying for school and extra-curricular activities, doctors, dental and medical costs, counselling, therapy… and the list goes on.
Over many years GRG has built up extensive expertise and knowledge of the financial support available from the State for grandparents and other kin carers raising their grandchildren on a full-time basis. For most grandparents and whanau/kin caregivers raising someone else's child, they are eligible for support from either the Orphan's Benefit or the Unsupported Child Benefit. Or they may be an approved caregiver receiving the Foster Care Allowance.
If you are a GRG member you can also access our free Advocacy support and advice for your particular situation. If you are not a member and you are a full-time grandparent/whanau caregiver, membership is free and takes just a few minutes to join up here.
Below is helpful information about the Orphan's Benefit and the Unsupported Child Benefit, the process to apply for them and the support payments you will receive for the child in your care if you are eligible for this support.
If you need assistance to apply for this support, or you have tried and had difficulty applying for a grant or been turned down, please contact us on 0800 472 637 for a referral to one of our Advocates who can advise you on your particular circumstances. In some cases the decision from Work and Income is reviewable and may benefit from the presentation of further evidence to justify a grant in your case.
The Orphan's Benefit
The Orphan's Benefit (OB) is a weekly payment authorised under sections 43-45 of the Social Security Act 2018 which helps carers supporting a child or young person whose parents can't care for them because each of their parents is dead, missing or has a long-term serious disablement. The payments outlined below for the Unsupported Child Benefit are also paid at the same rates for children receiving the Orphan's Benefit. The application form to apply for the Orphan's Benefit is the same as for the Unsupported Child Benefit and can be accessed here.
The Unsupported Child’s Benefit (UCB) is a weekly payment authorised under sections 46-48 of the Social Security Act 2018 which helps carers supporting a child or young person whose parents can't care for them because of a family breakdown.
An important part of establishing eligibility for the UCB is satisfying the requirement that there has in fact been a family breakdown leading to the situation where the child or children are in your care.
As each case is different, it is important that before you make an application to your local Work and Income office that you are prepared and can clearly explain the nature of the family breakdown, why the child/ren are in your care, and why they can’t be cared for by their parents.
For help and advice on these matters please call our 0800 GRANDS (0800 472637) helpline.
The following information sets out the main eligibility criteria for the UCB in accordance with the law.
You may be able to get the Unsupported Child’s Benefit if the child or young person you care for is:
18 years old or younger
financially dependent on you
not able to be cared for by their parents because of a breakdown in the child’s family.
You or the child or young person must normally live in New Zealand. If you are working and you are granted the UCB, you may also qualify for the In-work tax credit from Inland Revenue
You will need to print the document out and then fill it in.
You will have to arrange a meeting with Work and Income.
You will need to take the completed application form and other supporting documents to the meeting.
When you apply for an Unsupported Child’s Benefit for a child, the parent/caregiver will be invited to discuss the situation. There are some circumstances where this won’t happen, for example, when a recent Oranga Tamariki Group Conference has been held.
Contact Work and Income to talk about your circumstances and they'll explain how to apply. They'll normally arrange a meeting with you and will tell you what you need to bring.
Orphan’s/Unsupported Child’s Benefit Application Form (PDF 731.4KB)
You have 20 working days from when you first contacted Work and Income. You'll need to provide them with any supporting documentation required for your application within this time. If you don't do this, you may have to reapply.
If you can't complete your application within 20 working days for any reason, please contact Work and Income.
This depends on the child or young person’s age and any income they have. Some payments are automatic and paid weekly and other payments require you to make an application for them. Please see below.
1. UCB weekly allowance
2. Establishment grant
3. Clothing allowance
4. Holidays and Birthdays allowance
You must apply for these:
5. School and Year Start-up payment
6. Extraordinary Care Fund
1. Weekly rates paid: View the current weekly rates
From 13 January 2014, when you get the Unsupported Child’s Benefit or Orphan’s Benefit, you will automatically receive a one-off grant of $350 for each child. This is to help you with the costs involved when a child first comes into your care, such as a bed, bedding and clothing.
From 1 July 2018 weekly payments of Clothing Allowance for Orphans and Unsupported children are paid to all caregivers who receive Orphans Benefit or Unsupported Childs Benefit. This allowance is paid automatically at the same time as your weekly payment of the UCB or Orphan's Benefit is paid.
From 1 December 2021 children receiving the Orphans and Unsupported Child Benefit will receive the Holidays Allowance which is paid two weeks before Christmas.
From 1 January 2022 the Birthdays allowance is paid around two weeks before the child’s birthday.
The payment for the Holidays and Birthday's allowance is based on the age of the child and the current weekly rate you receive for the child. It is equivalent to half the weekly rate you receive. This weekly rate does not include the Clothing Allowance payment.
For example if the weekly rate for the child you are raising is $203.03 you will automatically receive the Holidays Allowance of $101.52 two weeks before Christmas and again, you will receive this payment around two weeks before the child's next birthday.
From 13 January 2014, if you get the Unsupported Child’s Benefit or Orphan’s Benefit you can apply for the School and Year Start-up Payment to help with the costs that mostly happen at the beginning of the year, in particular pre-school and school-related costs such as clothing, school fees and stationery.
Applications open in mid-January and close in mid-February each year.
Applications must be made online via the Work and Income website. Dates and links will be posted when they are available each January. Please check our website or Facebook page for publication of these dates.
2022 Link to Form to Apply for School and Year Start-up Payment: Applications close end of February 2022
If you do not have a computer you can visit a WINZ office and they will assist you or alternatively call GRG's office on 0800 472 637 or 09 4183753 between 9am and 2pm weekdays and we will help do this for you. Please have your WINZ Client ID number handy.
It is very simple and will only take a few minutes. Payment is usually in your bank a/c within 3 days.
If you get the Unsupported Child’s Benefit or Orphan’s Benefit you can also apply for additional financial assistance in special circumstances from the Extraordinary Care Fund. The fund is designed to assist with costs for children who are either experiencing difficulties that impact on their development or who are showing promise.
For more information about these payments