MP’s first bill focuses on foster children

Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker has lodged his first Member's Bill since taking office last year, which aims to improve the financial security of children in foster care.

The lodged KiwiSaver (Foster Parent Opting in for Children in their Care) Amendment Bill will make it possible for any foster parent to open a KiwiSaver account for a foster child in their care. 

Mr Walker said the idea for the bill came after a Clutha-Southland constituent, who was also a foster parent, approached him about how difficult it was for foster parents to open a KiwiSaver account for foster children.

"Under the current model it's basically impossible to do because you have to go through a social worker and then they have to get sign-off higher up. Because social workers are so busy with so many different issues, this is always really low on their priority list."

Under the new bill, all foster parents would have to do was provide proof of their foster responsibility, he said.

Mr Walker said thus far the bill got positive feedback from across the political spectrum, and also from people who had gone through the process of opening a KiwiSaver account for a foster child and not had much luck.

The next step was for the bill to be pulled from the ballot. Mr Walker said there were roughly 60 bills in the ballot at the moment, with around three to four bills usually pulled each month.

A KiwiSaver account is the only financial instrument that no-one except the owner of the account itself can access. KiwiSaver has offered not to charge for the accounts of foster children until there is a significant sum in the account.


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