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What is Best Start?

Best Start helps families with the costs of caring for young children. It's a weekly payment for families with a child under 1 year old.

It's part of Working for Families, but the first year of Best Start is not income-tested so any family that meets the criteria can get the payment.

For the first year the payment is up to $60 a week. It's paid into the bank account of the principal caregiver. After the first year, we check if you can still get payments based on your income and family situation.

Can I get it?

You can get Best Start if you're a New Zealand resident and the principal caregiver of a child under 1 year old. You may be able to get Best Start for the next 2 years but this depends on your income. 

If you're receiving a benefit you need to let Work and Income know about your child's birth. They will set up your payments and let you know about any changes to your benefit.

Can I get it if I'm on paid parental leave?

You cannot get Best Start if you are on paid parental leave. If you are registered for Working for Families while you are on paid parental leave, your Best Start payments will automatically start the day after your paid parental leave ends.

How much can I get?

In your child's first year you get $60 a week regardless of your income. 

In your child's second and third years you can get Best Start if you earn less than $93,858 per year. The amount you get depends on your income. 

Family income Weekly payment Fortnightly payment Lump sum payment
$79,000 $60 $120 $3,120
$80,000 $55 $110 $2,910
$85,000 $35 $70 $1,860
$90,000 $15 $30 $810
$93,858 + $0 $0 $0

How does it work?

We pay Best Start into your bank account. Your entitlement starts from the day of your child's birth or, if you get it, the day your paid parental leave ends.

You can choose to receive Best Start payments:

  • weekly
  • fortnightly
  • as a lump sum.

If you choose a lump sum payment, we put the money in your account after the tax year ends on 31 March. If you already get Working for Families, Best Start payments will be made at the same time. If you choose to get Working for Families as a lump sum, you cannot have Best Start as a weekly payment. You'll get it as a lump sum as well, at the end of the tax year.

Best Start payments end the day before the child's third birthday.