'Absolutely crazy' for Oranga Tamariki to oppose Bill making KiwiSaver for foster children easier - provider

Oranga Tamariki is tipped to oppose a Bill making access to KiwiSaver easier for foster children, a move labelled "absolutely crazy" by a provider of the savings scheme.

A private member's Bill introduced last year by National Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker would allow any foster parent or kin carer to "approach a KiwiSaver provider to open an account for a foster child in their care".

While the Bill passed its first reading in Parliament in September and will go before a select committee on Wednesday, Oranga Tamariki, the Ministry for Children, may oppose it, Newshub understands.

Simplicity founder Sam Stubbs said not allowing foster parents to sign children in their care up to the scheme was "absolutely crazy".

"You have got 6500 foster kids and it is virtually impossible for them to have a KiwiSaver account because the current law says that either the natural parents or the guardians have to sign them up," Mr Stubbs told The AM Show.

"The natural parents obviously aren't there [while] the guardian becomes the state, and what the state does is take an impossibly long time to do things."

Mr Stubbs said it takes five minutes for most parents in New Zealand to sign their kids up to the scheme, but he has heard cases where for some foster parents it has taken up to five years to have children in their care signed up.

He said no one had provided any "convincing argument" about why the Bill shouldn't be put into law, but he suspects they were concerned because the idea was new and wasn't that of Oranga Tamirki.

"The state is supposed to be the guardian of these kids, they are acting like they are the Grinches," he said.

"It is just about being fair, it is about giving these kids the same chance as every other kid... If you want a caring, fair society, and I think we all do, you got to do this."

Oranga Tamariki's chief executive wouldn't appear on The AM Show this morning, while a spokesperson said the Ministry wouldn't comment on advice they had given the select committee.

Mr Stubbs said the scheme was in many ways far more suited for foster children because the children often go through many sets of homes, meaning their money should be protected as KiwiSaver does.

"In one instance we spoke to a grandparent that said 'we want to give this child some money, but I want to know it won't be stolen by someone I don't know about'," he said.

"[Money in KiwiSaver] is only there for their benefit, and only in instances of hardship, or the first home, or retirement, can they take it out."


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