Family Assistance 

I am still at work when my child finishes school, and don't have enough money to hire a babysitter. Can I get financial support for child-care?

If you are in this situation, you may be able to claim the Out of School Care and Recreation Subsidy (OSCAR). The OSCAR subsidy is for children aged 5-13, and helps with child-care costs before and after school, and during school holidays.

To get an OSCAR subsidy you and your spouse must earn under a certain amount and both have to work or study during hours when your child requires care. You cannot receive the subsidy if the child's other caregiver is able to take care of them during the times you are working or studying unless your child is disabled. The subsidy is paid directly by WINZ to the care provider.

You may also be able to claim a Childcare Subsidy for up to nine hours of pre-school childcare a week, and in certain cases you could get up to 50 hours a week. The early childhood programme must be licensed and/or chartered to qualify.

To get the Childcare subsidy, your child must be aged five or under (six or under if you are receiving a disability allowance for them). You can't receive more than nine hours if the child's other caregiver is able to look after them unless you are receiving a disability allowance for that child. This subsidy is paid directly by Work and Income (WINZ) to the care provider.

If your child is three or four years old, you can get up to 20 hours a week of early childhood education provided by the Ministry of Education. This is known as 20 hours ECE.

Families cannot receive both the 20 hours ECE and childcare subsidy for the same hours. If your early childhood education service is part of the 20 hours ECE program, you should ask them for an application form. If they are not, you could use the ECE directory to find one that does. More information about 20 Hours ECE is on the Ministry of Education website.

You can apply for Childcare and OSCAR subsidies online or ask to have an application form sent to you by calling Work and Income on 0800 559 009. 

To find out more, visit the Work and Income website.

I'm having a baby and I'm still in school. Is there any extra support for me?

If you are age 16- 18, are responsible for the day to day care of your child, and are a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident, you may be able to get the Young Parent Payment.

The Young Parent Payment comes with a number of conditions, for example you will have to :

  • be in, or available for, full-time education or work-based training,
  • be in a teen parent unit (a school for teen parents) when your child turns one (or six months, if a place is available),
  • work with the Youth Service provider assigned to you, who will help you manage your money, and
  • attend a budgeting course and a parenting course.

More details are on the Work and Income website.

The amount of the payment will depend on your circumstances.

You can use this online tool to check your eligibility and also apply online.

For more assistance that might be available to you, see below.

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I'm just about to have a baby, and I'm worried I won't be able to pay the bills while I'm off work looking after my baby. Is there any support for me over the first few months?

Paid Parental Leave is a government funded payment from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), for working mothers and adoptive parents while they take parental leave from their job(s) to care for their newborn or adopted child (under the age of six).

The payment goes towards the loss of income that working mothers experience when they take parental leave to care for a newborn baby or an adopted child. Mothers may also be able to transfer all or part of their entitlement to their partner. Currently you can claim Paid Parental Leave for up to 14 weeks.

You have to apply to the Inland Revenue for Paid Parental Leave. The forms for employees and self-employed people are on the MBIE’s Employment Relations website.
For more information about paid parental leave, you can call the MBIE Labour Contact Centre on 0800 800 863 or visit their Employment Relations website.

Parental tax credit is part of the Working for Families package, and you can either receive parental tax credit or Paid Parental Leave, but not both. If you apply within three months of your baby's birth, you can get weekly or fortnightly payments for eight weeks. Otherwise, the parental tax credit is paid in a lump sum at the end of the tax year. Parental tax credits provide up to $1200 in a year, and the amount you get depends on your income, and the number of days your baby was in your care during its first eight weeks. To find out more, see the IRD webpage on parental tax credit.

If you are thinking of applying for the Working for Families package, the IRD offers a calculator to assist you to work out how much you are entitled to. You can apply online or by completing a Working for Families Tax Credits registration (FS1) form. Also see our answer to the next question.

WINZ also has a downloadable brochure about the types of assistance that may be available when you're having a baby.

Work and Income Home Help is a payment towards the cost of help in the home if you have had multiple births, a domestic emergency such as your partner being taken ill, or just need someone to help with the housework. This is available to Community Service Card holders who meet an asset test.

This could help cover the costs of housework or courses in parenting skills. How much you can get depends on your circumstances. To find out more, contact WINZ on 0800 559 009 or visit the Work and Income website.

You can contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau for information or assistance with your application.

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I don't feel like I'm making enough money to properly support my children. Is there any support for low-income families?

The Working for Families package offers help for low-income families with the following tax credits

  • the in-work tax credit is given to couples who work more than 30 hours per week between them (or 20 hours if they are solo parents). It also depends on income and the number of children you have
  • the minimum family tax credit is given to qualifying couples who work more than 30 hours per week between them (or 20 hours if they are solo parents) if their total income falls belowa minimum amount
  • the family tax credit depends on your income and is given for each dependent child aged 18 or younger

To find out more about the Working for Families package, see the WINZ website, or the Working for Families homepage. If you want to apply online, visit the IRD website.

You may also be eligible for assistance from Work and Income. Try their online tool to find out what you might get.

I need help with the costs of sending my child to school. Are there benefits set up to help with this?

There are no specific benefits to help with this, but you may be able to get special assistance to help with school costs from WINZ. Benefits that can help may be temporary additional support or a special needs grant.

For more information, see the WINZ webpage on financial assistance or give them a call on 0800 559 009 to discuss your circumstances.