Fri 24 Apr 2015 2:46AM

Step families

SD Sophie Davies Public Seen by 330

Step-families are those containing children who are the biological or adopted child of one partner in a couple but not the other partner. Currently these families are not identified in census data.

Step-families have been identified as a family type of interest to users of family statistics, and one of the main gaps in information about families and households. There is keen interest in obtaining information on their prevalence and well-being.

Sample surveys (eg the General Social Survey) can provide information on the well-being of step-families but are not considered suitable for measuring their prevalence (ie not suitable for providing an accurate count).

The census is considered to be the best way to obtain information on the prevalence and distribution of step-families, so we need to consider whether we can collect this information in the census.

Our current recommendations relating to step families

  • We recommend exploring options for providing information on step-families from the 2018 Census.

See our preliminary view of 2018 Census content (page 44) for a more detailed discussion on step families information.


Vivienne (Facilitator) Wed 29 Apr 2015 2:44AM

Kia ora, hello, and welcome to the 2018 Census discussion on step-families. I'm Vivienne from Statistics New Zealand, and I will be facilitating this and the discussion on family type, household composition, and extended family type.

We want to know what information people need on families in general and on step-families in particular. So thank you for joining us and I look forward to your contributions to the discussion.


Vivienne (Facilitator) Sun 24 May 2015 11:06PM

Please note that formal submissions are now being accepted. Please submit your position on family and household topics here. Formal submissions are open until 30 June.


Jess Harris Sun 7 Jun 2015 11:11PM

Hi there,
I would like to find out if 'stepfamilies' also include children that are in 'Home for Life' arrangements via Child, Youth and family. We tend to capture information about adoptions however, the 'home for life' arrangement is not a legal adoption.

Parents who care for children under Home for Life are not recognised for Paid Parental Leave, Maternity Leave and other types of assistance that come if you have a biological child.

I believe there is a need to capture the details of formal arrangements facilitated through CYF (such as home for life and foster care), as well as informal arrangements (between families with no formal guardianship / parental orders). It seems to me that this information could be beneficial for CYF and MSD as well as other agencies who support families - as these type of arrangements could be missed.


Vivienne (Facilitator) Mon 8 Jun 2015 9:30PM

Hi @jessharris - We determine relationships based on how respondents answer question 6 of the dwelling form and question 19 of the individual form. So it would really depend on how the parent defines their relationship with the child and vice-versa. As you can see, we don't really differentiate between formal and informal arrangements as that would be beyond what census can collect and output as data. Even with the addition of stepfamilies, we wouldn't be asking parents to specify if their arrangements are formal or informal. It might be something for CYF, MSD, or Superu to collect as the census may be too blunt an instrument for this type of data.


Holly Walker Mon 29 Jun 2015 3:09AM

Hi there. I represent the Office of the Children's Commissioner. Apologies for coming to this discussion late. We are interested in ensuring that the information collected in the Census captures the dynamic reality of family life in 21st century New Zealand. To this end, we definitely support capturing information about step families. I'm interested to know more about how you plan to do this - will the parent have to identify themselves as a stepparent? Also, are there any plans to capture information about how much time children spend in different households? A reality for many stepfamilies is children who spend time in the home of each parent, eg week about. Are there any plans to capture information about this in a stepfamilies question in the Census? Thanks


Vivienne (Facilitator) Mon 29 Jun 2015 9:16PM

Hi @hollywalker - thanks for joining the conversation. How we ask about stepfamilies would depend on the information need and the result of testing. That is, we'd need to know what kind of detail data users such as you would need and how you'd use them, then we'd do quite a bit of testing to determine how to phrase an appropriate question in the census.
I note that you've also joined the discussion on second address, which is where we hope to capture some data on children in shared care.
I would also encourage you to make a formal submission as the submissions process closes today.