New Zealand's 14,000 caregivers are being given a $210 million boost in the Government's latest Budget.
Announcing the increase, Minister for Children Tracey Martin says caregivers do a "hugely important job" that needs to be "recognised and supported".
"We started the first-ever fundamental review of financial assistance for caregivers in 2019 and the clear message was that more help was needed," Martin says in a statement on Sunday.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has made addressing this issue more urgent as caregivers face the same financial pressures as other New Zealanders and the Government is responding with a significant funding increase."
The Government will spend an additional $210 million over four years, which will go to caregivers caring for children both in and outside of the state care system. Altogether, these caregivers look after more than 22,000 children.
Broken down, this money is being spent on:
Increasing the Unsupported Child's Benefit (UCB), Orphan's Benefit (OB) and Foster Care Allowance (FCA) by $25 a week per child ($143.1 million over 4 years)
Allowing caregivers who may provide care for less than 12 months to access the Orphan's Benefit and Unsupported Child's Benefit ($46.6 million)
Extending Birthday and Christmas Allowances, which are currently only available to caregivers caring for children in state care, to those receiving the UCB and OB ($16.8 million)
Continuing payments of the FCA to caregivers of children in state care for up to 20 days while the child they care for is in respite care ($3.2 million)
"This financial commitment will help to ensure that children and young people being cared for by extended family and whānau or non-kin carers can have the same opportunities we want for all kids in New Zealand," Martin says.
"It's also really important to recognise that not all care is for an extended period and that caregivers sometimes need a break.
"Some caregivers provide homes for children with complex and challenging needs. Their role is 24/7 and while rewarding, both they and the child they care for deserve to be able to have some time off."