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Minister for Children Anne Tolley says a new after-hours support service is being piloted to provide advice and support to caregivers of children and young people in care.

“Caregivers have said they want more targeted help to support them in their role of caring for children and young people in care,” says Mrs Tolley.

“Budget 2017 invests $26.4 million to support around 4,500 caregivers of children in care, as well as help for those caring for higher needs children.

“A new after-hours phoneline is being launched tomorrow which will connect caregivers to a social worker who is able to provide advice and guidance.

“The 0508 line will be run out of the Ministry’s National Contact Centre and will be piloted at six sites which cover a mix of areas from around the country - Kaitaia, Rangiora, Porirua, Levin, Waitakere and Palmerston North.

“The phoneline will be staffed from 5pm to midnight on weekdays and 24 hours on weekends for eight weeks before being scaled up to a 24/7 service.

“The pilot will run for at least six months, and it will then be evaluated to ensure that caregivers are getting the support that they need.”

A three-month peer support trial is also underway in Palmerston North to provide caregivers with an opportunity to connect with other caregivers and build peer support networks.

Peer support guidelines have been co-designed with caregivers to support the trial and these will be evaluated once the trial is complete. The first of several Caregiver Connection events successfully took place last month.

“There are a number of initiatives which will provide further targeted help to caregivers,” says Mrs Tolley.

“A new support handbook for caregivers will be available, and there is also work underway on targeted training for caregivers, and more effective recruitment and retention strategies.”

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