Kiwisaver for kids in care

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett is proposing to sign up children in care to Kiwisaver.

“While on my U.S Eisenhower fellowship, I was impressed with savings accounts set up for children in care and saw an opportunity with KiwiSaver.”

“New Zealand children in care generally don’t have family who can sign them up to Kiwisaver, but being enrolled will help them later in life and send a message that their future matters,” says Mrs Bennett.

We’ve been working on a range of supports for young people leaving care, called Set for Life to help them as they move into adulthood.

“I’m proposing we sign all children in care up to KiwiSaver, so they leave the care system with a solid financial foundation,” says Mrs Bennett.

“New Zealanders wanting to help children who’ve been abused and through the worst in life, would be able to contribute financially through payroll giving.”

Each young person would get the Government $1000 kick start payment and a community organisation would distribute any donated funds evenly.

The Vulnerable Children Bill, includes a proposed amendment to the KiwiSaver Act 2006 allowing the Chief Executive of the Ministry of Social Development to enrol the young person in KiwiSaver, act as guardian and manage the account.

The current KiwiSaver rules require both parents, or guardians to sign when a young person under 18 years old enrols in KiwiSaver.

This will provide vulnerable children with a financial foundation for their futures and provide a vehicle for charitable donations which goes to those in need.

The proposal is part of a wider care strategy aimed at improving the transition experience for young people who legally leave care at 17 years old.

“Part of that strategy is to provide more support for those who need and want it when they leave care, up to the age of 20 years,” says Mrs Bennett.

“Only some will want to stay involved with Child, Youth and Family for that long, but the option should be there for those who need it.”

This provides an option for those who don’t have the family support available to most young people when they leave home.

Other changes to be introduced include better support for Grandparents Raising Grandchildren and other caregivers, more transparency for Family Group Conferences and better support for disabled children in care.

‘We’re increasing efforts to get all available health supports for families who’re considering putting a disabled child into care, so that child can stay at home.

If a disabled child is in care, a review of their living arrangements will be held every year instead of every two years, but the focus will be on staying in the family home, with more support as the best option. 

Family Group Conferences are currently run by a CYF co-ordinator. A review found many people would support external co-ordinators, including iwi as well.

Child, Youth and Family is working with iwi on this idea alongside a range of cultural improvements that draw from tikanga Māori.

The Children, Young Persons and Their Families Act will be amended to clarify the intended prominence of section 13(a) that children must be protected from harm, their rights upheld and their welfare promoted.

In his 2010 report into the serious abuse of a nine year old girl, Mel Smith noted section 5 of the CYPF Act (which says where possible the relationship to family should be maintained) often takes precedence over section 13.

“Mel Smith said this is possibly to the detriment of the safety, welfare and interests of the child, so I think we need to strengthen the core purpose of the Act which is to put the needs of the child first,” says Mrs Bennett.

 Families aren’t always the best and safest place for children.

The welfare of the child should always come first even if it means the relationship with his or her family is weakened or undermined.

12 Responses to Kiwisaver for kids in care

  1. Dave Kennedy says:

    I think the Kiwisaver for kids idea has merit.

    I also like the idea of providing more support for families caring for a disabled member. Children with severe disabilities can put huge stresses on their families and institutionalising care is actually very expensive. Humanitarian and economic outcomes are better when funding and support is targeted at families.

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  2. Andrei says:

    Families aren’t always the best and safest place for children.

    WRONG!!!!!

    The family as it was conventionally understood is almost universally the best and safest place for children

    i.e. the Mum, Dad, three kids and a dog sort of thing.

    But the cultural elites have pretty much smashed this concept and so now a “family” is mum, three kids from three duffrent fathers and latest boy friend type of thing and these arrangements are the ones that are not safe.

    It is almost amazing how fricken stupid our politicians are in this regard, stupid or perhaps evil, maybe even both but they have encouraged the pathological “families” while actively discouraging the wholesome ones with their policies and continue to do so, their latest depredation in this area coming into force yesterday to the great joy of the decadent wastrel classes.

    The party is coming to an end though, the population is getting older and probably the stupidest thing a young man could do in this brave new world you have created would be to woo and marry a young woman and create a real family with her so the aging population is not going to be fixed anytime soon and the kids raised in pathological circumstance will despite their fancy kiwi saver accounts most likely grow to be pathological adults as we all know only too well

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  3. Dave Kennedy says:

    Andrei, heaps of dangerous supposition in your argument. I think perhaps that “dysfunctional” may also be a more useful adjective than “pathological”.

    It has been shown through research and even via this Government’s flawed National Standards that the socio-economic background of a family is the most obvious predictor of a child’s future success.

    A “wholesome” family is one that cares for a child and provides for their material and emotional needs. Whether the parents are separated, gay, elderly or very young are not reliable predictors of a child’s future and it is unreasonable to suggest that.

    In many situations the wider whanau have a positive input in supporting a child of a young single parent and in other cases a mother and father may struggle to meet their responsibilities entirely.

    The cycle of dysfunction will indeed continue unless there is appropriate intervention and support. High quality education, vocational training, good jobs and wages and an appropriate level of financial support in times of need are important. Some individuals may not use their Kiwisaver money well, but there will be many for whom it may be a life line.

    As the recent research on benefit fraud and tax evasion has revealed, we seem to have double standards. It is deemed appropriate to give handouts to the already wealthy (often involving tens of millions of dollars) and turn a blind eye to tax fraud (involving billions) but god forbid giving anything to the poor and struggling. Around 250,000 children are currently living in substandard environments because a few bad eggs are used as examples to deny tens of thousands of families the support that would break the cycle of poverty and dysfunction.

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  4. Andrei says:

    I don’t know, David Kennedy, I just don’t know.

    I suspect that anybody who seriously believes that an increase taxes on the wealthy to pay for an army of women armed with social work degrees to provide “intervention and support” will break “the cycle of dysfunction” is probably beyond reasoning with.

    Never mind I expect the fairy godmother will come and sprinkle her fairy dust over all our houses and all will be transformed overnight into princes and princesses living in a land of milk and honey

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  5. TraceyS says:

    “tax fraud (involving billions)” – aren’t we also talking about “a few bad eggs” here too Dave?

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  6. Dave Kennedy says:

    Quite true, Tracey, however those who defraud the most (tax) are more likely to get off and those who are the most vulnerable are more likely to endure the closest scrutiny. Neither fraud is to be condoned but one group gets treated as guilty before proved otherwise (even over-payments that are not the fault of the recipient are called ‘fraud’).

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  7. Dave Kennedy says:

    Dysfunctional families who struggle financially and have difficulty managing their children find themselves in their situation for a variety of reasons and there would be a range of possible solutions. No intervention will allow a cycle of dysfunction and we will all suffer the consequences. I would be interested in your solutions given that qualified social workers and financial support are out.

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  8. Andrei says:

    There is no solution Dave Kennedy – we’re too far gone and have dismantled all the cultural and legal fences that existed to keep these social pathologies to a minimum.

    All anybody talks about in these decaying, decadent days is their “rights”.

    Duties and responsibilities phtttt

    And if something goes wrong because of poor life choices you become a victim – nobody is ever the author of their own misfortune and should never have to face the consequences.

    We have sold our souls for a quiet life, copious material goods, and mummy Government to wipe away our tears and make it better when we have a boo boo.

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  9. Dave Kennedy says:

    So everyone’s circumstances are because of poor life choices?

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  10. Andrei says:

    Of course not Dave Kennedy.

    This world is ruled by unfairness and injustice.

    We all have to treat each other with compassion and kindness, while addressing those problems we can.

    But there is no Big Government program that can fix the underlying inequalities of life and make us all equal, it aint gonna happen and using a big stick to try and make it happen has always just made things worse

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  11. homepaddock says:

    Chester Borrows said claims of being tougher on benefit fraud than tax fraud are misleading http://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/welfare-fraud-comparisons-misleading

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  12. Dave Kennedy says:

    The fact that over payments of benefits are called fraud even if they are paid back displays a concerning culture within the department.

    We also have the situation with Novopay where overpayments have been passed onto debt collectors (often small sums) when those who were overpaid were actually not able to pay the money back, despite trying. Meanwhile thousands are still waiting for money owed.

    The biggest fraudsters of all are actually our Australian owned banks who owed $2.2 billion in tax and cost the IRD a considerable amount to take legal action. The banks only paid 80% of what they owed, leaving $440 million unpaid (over ten times the total supposedly owed through benefit fraud). There was no penalty imposed on the banks either.

    http://www.newzealandtaxation.com/2009/12/ird-settles-2-2-billion-evasion-case-with-banks/

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