Shared custody and childcare

Guidance for parents, carers and whānau on managing shared custody, childcare and childcare providers.

Essential workers with children aged 0 to 14

Where possible, essential workers need to make their own arrangements for childcare, due to limited capacity.

We know this will not be possible for everyone. Alternative arrangements have been made so essential workers can access childcare and continue to work.

Your employer will tell you if you qualify as an essential worker for these purposes.

If you're making your own childcare arrangements

Making your own arrangements for childcare is the preferred approach. We encourage you to use your existing networks for in-home care, for example, a neighbour, relative, friend or current carer/nanny who can come to your house or provide childcare in their own home. There are Public Health rules you need to comply with:

  • The person providing care for your children essentially becomes an extension of your self-isolating household group.
  • This group must remain the same for the whole Alert Level 4 period.
  • The carer should not care for children from other households/families, other than their own, over the same period.
  • If a child or carer becomes unwell, they must stay at home.

If you don't have access to childcare through your own networks

If you’re unable to access childcare to perform your essential service, the government has agreed that it will fund other licensed childcare providers to provide in-home care to the children aged 0 to 14 of essential workers. Examples of licensed childcare providers are PORSE, OSCAR and Barnados. They would be subject to the same Public Health rules as set out above.

For the purposes of providing care to children of essential workers, the in-home carer will be classified as an essential worker.

This type of care will continue to be funded until 8 May. After this date, parents and caregivers will need to make their own arrangements.

Contact details for providers

List of all available providers (external link)

Some of the key providers include:

Barnados

Barnados website (external link)
Email: covid19enquiries@barnardos.org.nz
Phone: 0800 BARNARDOS (0800 227 627)

Edubase/Home Grown Kids

Email: info@hgk.co.nz
Phone: 0508 44 54 37

PORSE

PORSE website (external link)
Phone: 0800 023 456

Shared parenting at Alert Level 2

At Alert Level 2, parenting arrangements can return to normal.

Household bubbles don't need to be maintained and you can reconnect with friends and family, in a safe way.

It's safe to send you children to schools, early learning services and tertiary education. There will be appropriate measures in place.

Travelling for parenting purposes

Children can travel freely for the purpose of parenting arrangements. There's no restriction on distance for domestic travel.

Children still must not move between households if they show symptoms of COVID-19, are awaiting a test or are required to self-isolate. Make sure you travel in a safe way and follow public health measures.

Public transport is available to anyone at Alert Level 2. Keep in mind that there’s less capacity on public transport because of physical distancing so if you can, consider travelling at off-peak times or walking or cycling. You should not travel on public transport if you’re unwell.

Information on how to stay safe while using public transport (external link)

Legal advice and Family Court

Lawyers and other legal services are available during Alert Level 2 — physical consultations will need to follow public health measures.

You can find a list of legal aid lawyers on the Ministry of Justice website or you may be eligible for assistance from a Community Law Centre.

If you have a dispute on shared parenting the Family Court may be able to assist.

Information about Family Court services under Alert Level 2 (external link)

If you were doing Family Dispute Resolution check with your provider. These services will be available under Alert Level 2 but the way they are delivered may change, including doing some of the programme by phone or online.

Call 0800 COURTS (0800 268 787) if you need other information about Family Court.

Childcare for children aged 0 to 14 at Alert Level 3

If you’re making your own childcare arrangements, you can use your existing networks for in-home care. For example, a neighbour, relative, friend or current carer/nanny who can come to your house or provide childcare in their own home. There are Public Health rules you need to comply with:

  • The person providing care for your children essentially becomes an extended part of your household bubble.
  • This group must remain the same for the whole Alert Level 3 period.
  • The carer should not care for children from other households/families, other than their own, over the same period.
  • If a child or carer becomes unwell, they must stay at home.

Shared custody at Alert Level 3

At Alert Level 3, children may move between households under a shared custody arrangement. Household bubbles can be extended slightly, but must remain exclusive.

Children can move between different regions. However, only travel where you need to. Take a copy of your court order or parenting arrangement with you, to help explain your travel.

Use private vehicles to transport children where possible. You can use public transport if you don't have another option.

Guidance for managing shared parenting during COVID-19 Alert Levels (external link)

Shared custody at Alert Level 4

The best thing everyone can do to stop the spread of COVID-19 is to stay home. This includes parents with shared custody arrangements and their children. The Principal Family Court Judge has released guidance for parents with shared custody arrangements.

Generally, children whose parents live within an hour’s drive of each other can continue to go between 2 homes if you have a shared bubble arrangement. Your shared bubble can include 2 households at most. An arrangement with more than 2 households would risk spreading COVID-19. Simple precautions should be taken to protect the health of parents and children. This includes parents from different households keeping a distance of more than 2 metres.

If parents are more than an hour’s drive away, then the children should stay in one home. Children should also stay in one home if they're feeling unwell, or if someone in their home is unwell or has been overseas in the last 14 days. This will protect the health of parents, caregivers and children.

Make sure children are safe and cared for

If you’re worried that a child or young person you know isn't safe or being cared for, or you know a child who has been separated from their parents or caregivers, contact Oranga Tamariki.

Phone: 0508 326 459, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Email: contact@ot.govt.nz

If you're caring for a child who is immunocompromised there's more information about how you can care for them from the Ministry of Health.

Ministry of Health general health advice (external link)

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