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Essential social services

The latest guidance and information for all social services

What social services are considered essential?

For social services, five categories of essential services have been identified.

  • Category 1: Where the social service is the only way for people to access food and other goods they need to live day-to-day (e.g. money management services (where an organisation manages living expenses on a client’s behalf), food banks, and delivery of essential goods).
  • Category 2: A social service that provides and supports a place for someone to live (e.g. Supported Accommodation, Housing First, Residences, Bail Hostels, Night Shelters, Family Homes, Remand Homes, foster carers of children in state care, resettlement services for recent migrants and refugees).
  • Category 3: A social service that supports disabled people to maintain critical wellbeing (e.g. disability services for those with high needs or very high needs – excluding disability employment services).
  • Category 4: Crisis support for people who are unsafe (e.g. helplines, refuges and family violence crisis services including those funded by the Ministry of Justice, elder abuse services, foster carer support services, sexual violence crisis services, services for youth and their families who have statutory involvement with Youth Justice, other social services for people and families in crisis, including youth)
  • Category 5: Childcare provision for children of essential workers by a licensed childcare provider

These categories are subject to review.

Non-essential social services

Please note that social service organisations can continue to operate as long as they can do so within the Government’s guidelines. It is essential that you operate within these guidelines to maintain the health and safety of the people within your organisations and the people you work with.

You can find information for organisations, employers and employees on the COVID-19 and Ministry of Health websites.

If you are a social service provider and believe that you need to be on the register, let us know by email at Community_information@msd.govt.nz. Please tell us:

  • how you provide ‘essential social services’ in your communities during this time
  • that you understand and can operate within the significant restrictions on how essential services need to be delivered at Alert Level 4
  • about your current capacity and how you propose to operate the service
  • where you propose to deliver the services so we can make sure all parts of the country are covered and avoid duplication
  • the government agency or agencies you receive funding from.

Keeping you updated

If you have any specific questions, please contact your contract or relationship manager in the first instance. You can also email us at community_information@msd.govt.nz. We will try to get back to you as soon as we are able.

The Government’s COVID-19 website is constantly being updated with information on New Zealand’s response to the pandemic and is the first place to go for information you may need.

This website provides information on the COVID-19 Alert Levels and what we need to do in response. Please note that alert levels will change over time and may be different in different parts of the country.

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