Families missing out on child disability allowance, survey finds

Alan Johnson, of the Child Poverty Action Group, is calling for government agencies to make it easier for eligible families to obtain the child disability allowance. Photo / Glenn Jeffrey.
Alan Johnson, of the Child Poverty Action Group, is calling for government agencies to make it easier for eligible families to obtain the child disability allowance. Photo / Glenn Jeffrey.

Most families which may be entitled to the child disability allowance don't even know it exists, according to a study by child poverty campaigners.

The study by the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) and its associates involved a survey of 1000 households in Otara, South Auckland to establish the prevalence of children's disabilities and chronic illnesses in the suburb - and the extent to which eligible families are accessing the child disability allowance (CDA).

"... only a small proportion of households who were possibly eligible for the CDA were receiving it, and ... most people did not know about the CDA or found the process of applying for it too difficult to negotiate," said the action group.

"Others may have had their applications declined and were put off from reapplying."

The difficulties encountered included being unable to understand the application procedure, unpleasant interactions with Work and Income staff, and difficulties in getting supporting documents for an application.

The action group said the findings show more advocacy is needed for those in financial need, especially for families with children who have disabilities and chronic illnesses.

To improve access to the allowance, CPAG's recommendations include that government agencies:
• Increase promotion of the allowance and its eligibility criteria to families and doctors,
• Simplify the application procedure, and
• Provide more funding for culturally-appropriate advocacy services.

A report on the study, by CPAG co-convener Alan Johnson and researcher Jessica Suri, of Otara health, will be released on tomorrow.

- NZ Herald

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