The rise and fall of the Child Disability Allowance2 min read
Today, we take a look at the Child Disability Allowance. The Child Disability Allowance is an allowance of around $45 dollars a week paid to the caregivers of children and young people that require substantially more supervision and support than other children and young people.
The number of children and young people receiving the Child Disability Allowances has been falling.
Between 2008 and 2012, the number of children receiving the Child Disability Allowance fell by 6,291; an almost 20 per cent drop. The drop was due to both families losing their existing allowances during reassessments, and reduced numbers of new allowances being granted.
The Ministry of Social Development was concerned about the sharp rise in the number of children being granted the allowance. The children and young people on the Allowance were also increasingly having more diverse types of impairments. Children with challenging behaviour, health conditions and Autism Spectrum Disorder were making up a large number of children on the Allowance.
For the review, the Ministry consulted with medical professionals and the New Zealand Medical Association, but not, it appears, with the disability community.
Following the review several changes were made:
- The medical certificate was redesigned.
- A new guide was published for doctors.
- Case managers were issued new guidelines.
- Case managers were allowed to consult with Regional Health Advisors when making decisions about eligibility.
These changes focused on telling doctors and case managers that the level of additional care required to qualify for the Child Disability Allowance is high.
These changes had a large impact. Thousands of children and their families no longer receive the Child Disability Allowance. The Ministry of Social Development succeeded in their goal of reversing the rise in the number of Child Disability Allowances being granted.
Was the Ministry of Social Development right to make these changes? Before we can address that question, we need to take a step back and look at the purpose of the Child Disability Allowance. We can do that next week.