This report presents the findings from a survey of around 1,300 caregivers receiving the Orphan’s Benefit (OB) or the Unsupported Child’s Benefit (UCB) with the aim of understanding children and their caregivers, and the extra help that they might need.
Overview: Caregivers receiving the OB and UCB were invited to take part in a telephone survey. The contact details were drawn by the Ministry of Social Development from their operational database in July 2021. All recipients of the OB and a stratified sample of UCB recipients were invited to take part
in the survey. In total there were 1,300 responses, 120 for the OB and 1,180 for the UCB, with an
overall response rate of 55% and an average interview length of 19 minutes.
Target population: The population of caregivers receiving the OB was approximately 270. Māori made up about 45% of all the caregivers in this population. The population of caregivers receiving the UCB was approximately 13,000. Nearly half of this caregiver population are Māori.
Questionnaire development process
The questionnaire largely followed the final survey designed for the 2019 study.
New areas covered in the 2021 study include:
- Reasons why the nominated child came into the care of their caregiver (for OB caregivers)
- The costs caregivers applied for under the Extraordinary Care FundWhether the School and Year Start-up Payment is perceived to be enough to meet schoolrelated costs
- The costs the School and Year Start-up Payment is used to cover
- Additional school-related costs not covered by the School and Year Start-up Payment
- Whether caregivers received support in any non-financial areas, and where they went to get this support
- Awareness of the Permanent Caregiver Support Service.
The following questions were removed in the 2021 study:
- Household composition
- Where the nominated child lived before they came to live with the caregiver
- Awareness of the clothing allowance
- Perceived effort to apply for the Extraordinary Care Fund
- Perceived effort to apply for the School and Year Start-up Payment
- To what extent the caregiver agrees they have enough money to care for the child(ren) in their home
- Whether the caregiver is in paid work
- The impacts of the child (on caregiver work situation and living situation).
The Oranga Tamariki team highlighted new areas of interest for the 2021 study, and Kantar Public (formerly Colmar Brunton) worked in consultation with the team to finalise the questionnaire design.
This was followed up with a telephone pilot of 30 caregivers.
Overview of interview method
The research process involved two steps:
- Step One: Pre-notification letter and information sheet from Oranga Tamariki advising caregivers about the upcoming phone survey and giving them the option to opt-out of the survey. These were mailed to caregivers on 5 August 2021.
- Step Two: Phone interviews. Trained interviewers phoned caregivers who had been sent a pre-notification letter that sought their agreement to take part in the survey.
- The interviewer team included interviewers who were fluent in te reo Māori, Tongan, Samoan and Cook Island Māori.
- Where needed, call-backs were made to conduct the interview at an appropriate time. Up to 10 calls were made to a telephone number to secure the interview.
- Caregivers were given the opportunity to opt-out at any point during the interview. No incentive to encourage participation was used for the phone survey.
The response rate for the telephone survey with caregivers receiving the OB and UCB was 55% using a base of all attempted phone contacts made, excluding invalid numbers and non-qualifiers. This is lower than 2019 (60%).
A total of 120 caregivers receiving the OB completed the telephone interview. A response rate of 51%
was achieved for the total population, excluding invalid numbers and those who no longer had an eligible child living with them. When this base was further adjusted7 to an estimated number of eligible caregivers receiving the OB, the response rate increased to 52%.
A total of 1,180 caregivers receiving the UCB completed the telephone interview, a response rate of 56% was achieved for the total population. When this base was further adjusted to an estimated number of eligible caregivers receiving the UCB the response rate increased to 57%.
The survey responses were weighted at the analysis stage to ensure that the survey responses represented each population of caregivers.
The demographic profile of the 2021 survey sample is similar to the 2019 profile. Around half (52%) of OB caregivers identified as Māori, one in nine (11%) identified as Pacific, and two in five (42%) identified as NZ European. Around half (52%) of UCB caregivers identified as Māori, half (50%) identified as NZ European, and one in ten (10%) identified as Pacific.
Key changes in survey results since 2019
Orphan Benefit Caregivers (120 caregivers responded)
- Engagement in community activities for OB children has declined over the last 12 months (possibly in response to COVID-19 and lockdowns)
- OB caregivers were less likely to need support in the last 12 months than in 2019
- Perceived adequacy of the OB has improved since the $25 rate increase in 2020
- Awareness of the Extraordinary Care Fund has dropped, but application rates remain steady
- Awareness of the School and Year Start-up payment has declined
- The strongest predictors of OB caregiver stress include the caregiver needing help with the nominated child’s intellectual difficulties, the caregiver needing to contribute their own money to help cover the costs of the nominated child, and the caregiver needing help with responding to the nominated child’s behaviour
Unsupported Child’s Benefit Caregivers (1180 caregivers responded)
- UCB caregivers’ views of the nominated child’s wellbeing has worsened slightly reflecting the older age profile of children
- UCB children are less engaged in some activities than in 2019 (possibly in response to COVID-19 and lockdowns)
- The UCB caregiver demographic profile in 2021 is older and skewed towards those receiving a main benefit
- More support is needed for the child’s mental and emotional health in 2021
- Income adequacy has improved for UCB caregivers receiving a main benefit, but remains unchanged for other caregivers
- Awareness of the Extraordinary Care Fund has dropped, but application rates remain unaffected
- Over a third of caregivers aware of the School and Year Start-up payment feel the payment is not enough
- Awareness of the Permanent Caregiver Support Service is low
- Māori and Pacific caregivers had lower levels of awareness of the financial support that is available
The strongest predictors of caregiver stress include support needed for the nominated child’s mental and emotional health, the caregiver identifying as Māori, support needed for whānau visits, and caregivers caring for multiple children