Friday, August 16, 2013

Lindsay Mitchell: 90 percent of teenage parents on welfare haven't met obligations

From August 20, 2012 teenage parents requiring financial assistance were put on the Young Parent Payment (YPP).

At the end of March 2013 there were 1,346 YPP recipients:

56 percent were Maori.
6 percent were male.
87 percent were living in the North Island.

Each YPP recipient has a Youth Service provider who manages their benefit. Up to $50 a week is paid as a personal allowance.  This is a relatively small amount of cash compared to the previous system whereby the beneficiary would receive all of their benefit in cash.

The parent can earn up to $200 weekly without it affecting their benefit however.

As well, they can earn incentive payments to increase their weekly benefit.

For the sake of clarity the following is the OIA information MSD provided:

Parenting incentive payment
A young person can earn the parenting incentive payment after three months of engaging with a service provider if:

- they are receiving the Young Parent Payment
- they have participated in and completed a parenting education programme
- their dependent child/ren are enrolled with a primary health organisation
- their dependent child/ren aged 5 years or under are up-to-date with their Well Child/Tamariki Ora checks
- their child/ren under 5 years attends an approved early childhood education programme or is placed in other suitable childcare while the young person is in education, training, work-based learning or part-time work.
This poses the question, do they need to meet all these requirements to get the incentive payment? Here's the information provided at the youth service website:

Incentives

You can get a further $10 a week if you meet all your parenting requirements and have regular talks with your Youth Service provider for three months. Once you are getting the extra payments you need to keep up the good work. You will lose the incentive payments if you don’t.
So all requirements must be met. (There are two other distinct incentives as well - Education and Budgeting.)

At the end of March only 139 people on the YPP were receiving incentive payments. One in ten.

Interpreted another way, 90 percent of teenage parents receiving YPP are not meeting basic parenting obligations.

Additionally, I understood these obligations had to be met to avoid sanctions. Here's the youth service advice:

Parenting

To help you as a parent, you have to complete a parenting course. Your Youth Service provider will find a suitable course for you. 
It is important that your child can get medical care when they need it so you have to enrol them at a Primary Health Organisation medical centre or doctor. 
You also have to register your child (or children) under five with a Well Child provider, like Plunket, and make sure they have regular check-ups with this provider until they are five years old. 
While you are in education, training or doing part time work your child has to go to an early childhood education programme or be in suitable childcare.

What happens if you don’t meet your obligations?

The first and second time you don’t meet your obligations your weekly allowance will be suspended and any extra incentive payments you have earned will be stopped. You have four weeks to put it right. If you still have not done what is required your ongoing access to the Young Parent Payment will be looked at.
Which leads to a further question (as my OIA requests inevitably do). How many people on YPP have been sanctioned?

(If you are wondering why my data is months old, I requested it on 26 April 2013 and finally received a reply on 12 August, 2013).

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