[Sitting date: 28 June 2012. Volume:681;Page:3498. Text is incorporated into the Bound Volume.]
CHRIS AUCHINVOLE (National) to the
Minister for Social Development: What parenting support has the Government recently made available to grandparents who are raising grandchildren?
Hon PAULA BENNETT (Minister for Social Development)
: Grandparents raising their grandchildren do a truly remarkable job. To support them in their parenting role we asked Parents Centres to tailor a version of their Toolbox parenting programme. The resource includes 9 hours of practical parenting advice on DVD, with a manual that carers can work their own way through at home. [Interruption] Well, I know that the other side did not do much with them, so I am trying to catch up. Parents Centres in partnership with the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Trust will be sending the material out to over 5,000 grandparents.
Chris Auchinvole: How else has the Government supported grandparents who are raising their grandchildren?
Hon PAULA BENNETT: The majority of grandparents raising grandchildren do so without the involvement of Child, Youth and Family. For these families, this Government has taken a number of small but significant steps to provide further support. We have raised the main payment that grandparents can receive to match the rate of those made to Child, Youth and Family carers—matching the unsupported child benefit and the orphans benefit to the foster care allowance—and we have provided 500 respite care places a year for grandchildren in week-long holiday health camps.
Jacinda Ardern: Given that many grandparents are raising grandchildren on their pension alone, will she consider treating them as full foster carers, as is Labour’s policy, which would provide them with greater support than classifying them as carers of unsupported children; if not, why not?
Hon PAULA BENNETT: Most of those grandparents are not raising them on superannuation alone. They are eligible, as I stated, for the unsupported child benefit or the orphans benefit.
Hon Annette King: No. That’s not the question.
Hon PAULA BENNETT: No, the member did actually say that they were raising grandchildren on just their superannuation, whereas actually they are generally eligible for the unsupported child benefit, which this Government has actually matched to the foster-carer rate.
Jacinda Ardern: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I just wanted to clarify that I did not—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I heard the question very clearly, and the member started her question with “Given that many grandparents are raising children on their benefit alone”. I know my hearing is not good, but I heard that, and the Minister heard that. If
the member wanted to ask a question about the payment made to normal foster parents, or whatever, going to those grandparents, she should have asked that question.
Jacinda Ardern: I did.
Mr SPEAKER: Forgive me, the Minister and I both heard the same question, and I clearly heard the member start her question that way.
Chris Auchinvole: Can the Minister update the House on the other parenting initiatives developed as part of the 2011 Budget?
Hon PAULA BENNETT: Budget 2011 supported investment in a number of parenting initiatives in conjunction with Parents Centres. Funding has been provided to deliver and enhance the Toolbox programme specifically to Child, Youth and Family caregivers, whānau, Pasifika, grandparents, and kin carers, progressively delivering the Toolbox to 3,700 extra parents and caregivers for free for them over the next 3 years; also to research and evaluation, and to increase the number of volunteers and facilitators to deliver and coordinate the programme.