A Salvation Army report says one in five New Zealand children was living in a benefit-dependent household at the end of last year.
The Salvation Army says a universal income is needed urgently for children so they can continue to be supported when their parents lose their jobs.
But Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says the best way to get children out of poverty is to get their parents off the benefit and into work.
The report also says 20,000 people in Auckland are without a proper home.
Housing Minister Phil Heatley says proposed changes to the Resource Management Act and the Building Act will free up land supply and encourage house construction.