Foster carers face $214 cut
SOME of the most giving and community-conscious people in the Clarence Valley who take local foster children into their homes could be at a financial disadvantage after the State Government cuts payments to foster carers of 16- and 17-year-olds.
In most cases households will be $214 a fortnight worse off.
In a letter to the carers in December, the department said the government "had to take some tough decisions" to return Family and Community Services to financial sustainability.
The decisions "have been made reluctantly" and the measure will save $7 million a year.
The foster care allowance, worth $622, will be cut when the child turns 16, as they will have access to Youth Allowance, which is worth approximately $220.40 a fortnight.
Carers have been told to "negotiate with the young person in your care" to contribute to household expenses.
Regional co-ordinator northern of Connecting Carers NSW Kim Hawken says that they are just as disappointed with the decision as everyone else.
"This decision will impact on the ability of carers to take on children of that age," Ms Hawken said
"We fought long and hard to have this decision overturned."
She also thinks that heading down the road of Youth Allowance is not always the right way to go.
"Carers also feel that they would prefer to not encourage their young people to go down the path of being dependant on government welfare payments like Youth Allowance.
"We are disappointed that the government chose to move in this direction, however now that the decision has been made it is very much our role to support, look at options that are available for individual families," Ms Hawken said.
In that forward movement, she has a few recommendations for any foster carer in the Clarence Valley:
If a carer is not entitled to Family Tax Benefit then the young person should claim for Youth Allowance if they are still studying.
Young people still studying and working a part-time job can still earn $236 a fortnight before their Youth Allowance is reduced.
When the young person claims Youth Allowance the carer will lose his/her Family Tax Benefits both A & B.
The carer does not have to give up their Family Tax Benefits unless the young person applies directly to Centrelink for the Youth Allowance. However the increased rate of Family Tax Benefits Part A may be a better option for your family and it is worth doing the maths to explore this.
To receive Family Tax Benefits Part A the young person needs to stop their Youth Allowance and a claim for Family Tax Benefits must be lodged by the carer.
Please note that whatever you decide for your family, the Supported Care Allowance and Foster Care Allowance will be reduced by $212.70 per fortnight.
In order to make an informed decision and to understand your individual family situation, we encourage you to make an appointment with the Centrelink social worker in your area.
Please do not hesitate to contact CCNSW 24-hour support line with any queries on 1300 794 653.