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Supporting providers through COVID-19

We know the COVID-19 situation is having widespread implications and we’re working together with providers so services can continue wherever possible.

Provider contracts

To provide some certainty over the next six months, the Ministry of Social Development will treat all providers fairly if their contracted delivery of services is impacted by COVID-19.

If affected providers have to reduce services temporarily due to COVID-19, we will seek to maintain current funding levels for the period of the contract.

We understand it may be possible for some services to be delivered in different ways. For example, using digital or virtual technologies. Your Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plans should help with this, also.

Please contact your relationship manager to discuss any issues you are experiencing as a result of COVID-19.

Essential Social Services

On 23 March 2020, the Prime Minister announced that New Zealand has moved to COVID-19 Alert System Level 3 and will move to Level 4 within 48 hours. We recognise that our non-government organisation partners will be changing how they deliver services in response to this. We recognise and support the innovation shown by our partners as they continue to get support to people who need it while staying safe and healthy themselves.

What is an essential social service?

For social services, four categories of essential services have been identified. The updated list below provides more detail on which contracted services fit within each of the four categories of essential services.

  1. 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).
  2. 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).
  3. 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).
  4. Category 4: Crisis support for people who are unsafe (e.g. funded helplines, refuges and family violence crisis services, elder abuse services, foster carer support services, sexual violence crisis services, other social services for people and families in crisis, including youth).

These categories are subject to review.

We will continue working with organisations to ensure that these essential services are available and delivered in a way that maintains everyone’s health and safety, and continues to be culturally responsive.

For those services not covered above you will need to work within your Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plans to determine what services will stop and what services your staff can continue to deliver from home.

List of ‘essential social services’ for the national response to COVID-19

List of social sector organisations providing essential services

A list of current social service providers of essential services has been compiled.

What does it mean if I provide an ‘essential social service’?

The expectation is that, to the extent possible and without compromising the safety and wellbeing of those you are working with, you will deliver these essential services in keeping with the restrictions that come with Alert Level 4.

What flexibility and security do I have around my funding from government agencies?

Government agencies that fund the provision of social services have been meeting to align how they will support and work with their provider partners. This has included representatives from MSD, Oranga Tamariki, ACC, the Ministry of Justice, Corrections, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education and others.

What does this mean for other providers?

As a sector, we have a shared commitment to meeting the needs of vulnerable tamariki and their whānau. We want to collaborate with you to ensure the people we work with get through COVID-19.

We want to facilitate the sharing of resources to ensure the needs of the most vulnerable are met.

We ask that you let your contract relationship manager know about staff in non-essential services that could be made available to meet the needs of other priority tamariki and whānau. We will then facilitate connections with other service providers in your area who may need to call on this capacity, including Oranga Tamariki service teams. You may already be sharing resources in this way and you should continue to do this without involving us if it is not necessary.

We want to ensure capacity is retained within the sector for when the alert levels drop.

It is essential that we sustain the capacity of the social sector workforce during this time so that we can reactivate existing services, and provide responses to the emerging needs, as the alert levels drop. If you have capacity after considering the opportunities to share resources, please remember that non-essential services should continue to be provided where they can be done safely and in keeping with the requirements of each alert level.

COVID-19 Community Awareness and Preparedness Grant Fund

As part of the Government’s response to COVID-19, new funding is being prioritised to support community efforts on the ground. We recognise there are community groups doing critical work in the fight against COVID-19. This funding will allow them to continue to support their communities and help them through challenges they may face in the coming months.

COVID-19 business support

On 17 March 2020 the Government announced a COVID-19 business support package.

Findout more on the Employment NZ website

The package includes a wage subsidy and leave payment scheme. You may be able to get some support if you are being affected by the COVID-19 situation in some way.

Findout more about COVID-19 employer support

Ongoing support for your clients

If someone you work with is experiencing hardship we have a lot of different types of support that can help. An information sheet is available that explains what help people may be able to receive.

Health information

It is important that you and your teams continue to follow basic precautions outlined by the Ministry of Health to protect against the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds and dry them thoroughly.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or clothing.
  • Stay home if you feel unwell.

You can call the Government helpline for information and advice on 0800 779 997 (9am – 1am every day). If people have a question about their health, they should call Healthline directly on 0800 358 5453.

Keeping you updated

If you have any specific questions, please contact us at community_information@msd.govt.nz. We will try to get back to you as soon as we are able.

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