We have become aware that if you are providing transitional care to a young person leaving care and as caregivers decide you would like to continue to emotionally support them, you, as transitional caregivers can be subject to ‘income testing’, if the young person is applying to Studylink and in particular the Independent Circumstances Allowance.
Under the current policy it is assumed that caregivers are ‘acting in place of a parent’ of that student, if you regard that young person as a member of your family, or if you were providing personal guidance, advice or direction. Your young person can be declined for the Independent Circumstances Allowance through Studylink because of your emotional ‘parental role’ in supporting them.
We are currently working with Oranga Tamariki and will begin to lobby the Minister concerning the effect this can have on the young person’s ability to be supported with study once they officially leave care. We understand this is a policy that will require changes within Work and Income NZ and Ministry of Education.
Fostering Kids NZ would like a clause in the policy that states ‘young people under the guardianship of the state when they leave care are eligible for Studylink allowances’. It is important that a loving home and family like environment is still available for young people leaving care, but they should not be penalised by Work and Income because the caregivers still want to support them emotionally into adulthood. Thus, creating another barrier for the young people that have gone through the care sector. If they are choosing better outcomes for their lives by accessing tertiary study, you and they may be penalised through this current policy.
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