‘Pennies from heaven’ bring tears

NZ Herald 11 Oct 2012
Grandparents raising grandchildren are set to get more financial assistance from the Government as part of sweeping changes within New Zealand’s child protection services.

The announcement brought tears to the eyes of one grandmother who has been caring for her own grandchildren for 15 years.

“Pennies from heaven – that’s what this would be. You’ve got no idea the difference this will make,” said Diane Vivian.

“That’s fantastic, it’s something we’ve been lobbying for for 13 years.”

Mrs Vivian took over the care of her two young and “traumatised” grandchildren in 1997 and after struggling to find help and support, founded the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Trust two years later.

She has been pushing for grandparents in her position to be eligible for the same financial assistance as non-family foster carers ever since.

Foster carers get an allowance and additional funds to cover items such as clothing. Grandparents caring for grandchildren, while doing the same job, have not been entitled to the same.

But that is all set to change with “additional targeted assistance” to be given to carers like Mrs Vivian.

“You get paid the Unsupported Child’s Benefit, but that’s not a lot, considering it’s got to cover everything in that child’s existence. Foster carers get given money quarterly for clothing. All of these children suffer the same. They all have the same issues. Why are ours treated differently? All children deserve all the help they can possibly get.