Budget papers reveal officials preferred increasing accommodation payments to help poor families rather than raising benefit rates.
Government ministers though eventually decided to raise benefit levels for families by $25 a week from next year, as well as increase in-work tax credits for poor working families.
By last December officials presented ministers with three options to help the country's poorest children, a group of 60,000 to 100,000.
They said on balance they favoured increasing the accommodation supplement because poor families were finding it more difficult to pay for housing.
But the advice also made it clear raising benefits would help beneficiary families the most.
The papers spell out that ministers wanted a package aimed specifically at children suffering the worst hardship.