For the Children

Written By: - Date published: 9:01 am, August 17th, 2011 - 19 comments
Categories: child welfare - Tags: ,

Every Child Counts released their 1000 days to get it right for every child report at the weekend.

It has some pretty scary statistics in it – that we rank 28th out of 30 OECD countries for child outcomes across measures like youth suicide, teenage pregnancies, infant mortality and over-crowding in homes.  And that those poor outcomes for our children cost us $6 billion per year, in addition to the enormous social waste and strife they cause us.

The area where we really need to buck up our ideas is for the under-6s.  Research shows this is the most vital time in our lives for producing happy, well-adjusted, successful people.  And we’re doing particularly poorly currently.

We spend about $16,000 per child on under-6s – less than half the OECD average.  Denmark, at the top of the outcomes, spends $60,000.  That would be a massive increase in expenditure in tough times, so perhaps we can look to the Netherlands as our aim, spending $30,000 per child for almost as good outcomes as Denmark.

As long as we continue to under-invest in our children and we will continue to pay the price.  As Prof Dame Anne Salmond puts it:

An ageing society that doesn’t care for its young has a death wish…

Baby-boomers need every child to do well so that they can be supported in their retirement.  Every child deserves to be given the opportunity to succeed, to not have their health compromised, to not be put on a track to prison or depression.

That’s why this election Labour is Putting Children First, with a raft of policies aimed at improving our care and education of under-6s, from increased maternity leave, through compulsory Well-Child enrolment, through to putting back proper funding for ECE and more.  Labour understand that we need more investment in our children – not just in financial terms, but also in terms of expertise and advice to parents.  Annette King says it is time that looking after children was again considered as employment.

The report calls for cross-party agreement on this issue so that we can make progress, and the Greens, seeing that a quarter of kiwi kids are in poverty, have their 100,000 children out of poverty policy.

But the stumbling block is National.

From Radio NZ:

Prime Minister John Key agrees the future of some children is at risk, but says their needs should be balanced with those of other New Zealanders.

Child welfare isn’t at the top of his list, and National’s policies cutting ECE and attacking those on the DPB – those who need help the most – show it.  They’ve consistently refused to work with Labour when offers to work together on this have been offered.

John Key’s only response was to rubbish the report – put out by a group of New Zealand’s leading child charities – in Question Time yesterday.

We deserve better for our children and grand-children – and for our country.  In fact, our future needs it.

NB: the “1000 days” in the report title refers to the first 3 years of a child’s life.

19 comments on “For the Children”

  1. weka 1

    “Prime Minister John Key agrees the future of some children is at risk, but says their needs should be balanced with those of other New Zealanders.”
     
    Someone should make a billboard of that statement in time for the election.
     
    And someone should ask Key exactly whose needs should be considered instead of those kids.

  2. higherstandard 2

    OECD data here if anyone is interested.

    http://stats.oecd.org/Index.aspx?DataSetCode=CWB

  3. chris73 3

    I thought this might help:

    • tc 3.1

      Spot on as I’ve always thought the NACT script had a high comedic value to it.

      • Ianupnorth 3.1.1

        Stop it tc, that’s the most lucid and informative thing Chris has ever posted on here!
        Hey Chris, how come tories never comment on the threads where we illustrate Key’s lies? Seriously, you lot (Gosman, QSF, HS, etc) never do – scared of the truth?

        • chris73 3.1.1.1

          I can’t speak for anyone else (though no doubt you think we conspire together) but for me I contribute to the threads that interest me not ones that don’t

  4. Afewknowthetruth 4

    This state of affairs is hardly surprising after 35 years of non-socialist government (or should that be anti-socialist government?) that served the interests of money-lenders and global corporations, and broke up the very foundations of society.

    National, Labour, National, Labour, National.

    I do hope no one is going to suggest the appalling state NZ is in suddenly arrived 3 years ago. It is a direct consequence decades of institutionalised dysfunction.

    As for the children of this nation, most of them effectively don’t have one, since government after government has ignored all the factors that will determine the future, and the chickens are all coming home to roost right now: over-population, over-consumption, peak oil, collapse of fiat currencies, collapse of the global environment.

    Where are the strategies -permaculture and powerdown -to deal with this unholy mess? Nowhere to be seen amongst any mainstream political party (though the Greens do slightly acknowledge we are on the wrong path, so they offer faux solutions).

    We are still on track for a complete systems meltdown by 2015.

    • aerobubble 4.1

      The rich (tm republician party) are not the real rich of the free market.

      Democratic capitalism believes that everyone should aspire to greatness,
      wealth, intellect, social respect, whatever takes your fancy.

      Not the proto-fascist capitalism driven by MSM, no, they believe once you are
      rich then you are superhuman and should never be accountable or
      responsible.

      Unfortuately the politicians know better, they may look like they don’t
      but they see the wriiting on the wall. Unfortuately we don’t have a
      career politician as PM, and our Finance Minister is dull on his best day.

      Would Labour have such a progressive far reaching tax regime change?
      Would National be so fearful of it that they won’t attack Labours prime
      policy?

      We don’t need no stinking efficiency in NZ as long as the political class
      can ride on the backs of farmers, farmers as dull like their hero English.
      Whenever the farmer hit high commodity prices the exchange rate
      brokers run off with the profits! You’d think they’d have worked that out
      by now.

      If farmer were sniffing too much manure they’d wake up to the reality
      of the NZ economy without more broad investment stratgey (CGT).

      So no capitalism won’t end in 2015, but a lot of very self-assure right
      wing politicians will be consider social ?lepers?. Imagine that Key
      is a big fact loser jerk.

  5. jbc 5

    It’s not quite as simple as comparing per-child government spending.

    Take the country with the lowest infant mortality rate in the world for example. It’s also low in teen pregnancy and youth suicide. It’s low in government spending as well.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_infant_mortality_rate

    It’s likely more of a cultural and lifestyle issue than a government spending issue. You don’t have to have money thrown at you to survive past the age of 5 and not get pregnant. Having responsible parents is obviously a far bigger issue. Parents that don’t beat you and leave you in the car while they booze up.

    • mik e 5.1

      jbc Thats not TRUE Singapore has lower paye but has very high land tax and compulsory savings which the govt taxes GST so get your facts right they also provide high quality housing and a better eduction the list goes on no one is left behind in Singapore. Thats why they have 14% growth per annum and under Key blineglish we have less than 1%

      • jbc 5.1.1

        I know what it’s like. I’ve been a Singapore resident since 2001 and my two kids were born in Singapore. There is no welfare system to speak of, and certainly nothing like the spending that the OP is calling for – at least not directly by the government.

        I’m not suggesting that NZ copy the approach either. I’m just pointing out that it’s not simply a government spending problem.

        New Zealand already has some excellent services like free healthcare for under 5s. There’s really no excuse for the higher mortality rate of NZ kids.

        Perhaps NZ should match Singapore’s tax on alcohol. That would be a start.

        • Colonial Viper 5.1.1.1

          New Zealand already has some excellent services like free healthcare for under 5s. There’s really no excuse for the higher mortality rate of NZ kids.

          Excuses are beside the point though, aren’t they?

          The fact is that NZ suffers from a high degree of child abuse and neglect. A large part of this is related to the high rates of child poverty in this country, which is exacerbated by high youth unemployment and poor quality housing.

          Now given this starting point we have to decide as a society what to do next. Obviously with corporate health insurance and highly qualified professional parents, the children of expats tend to do OK in SG.

          I agree with you in the final analysis that this is not simply an issue of insufficient government spending, although that is an important factor. Support and encouragement needs to be given to parents so that they can step up to their child rearing role fully and skilfully.

          If we want to help the children, something needs to be done about the damn unemployment rate and low wages in this barely OECD country. Singapore in contrast has an unemployment rate which currently sits in the low 2% range.

          BTW with those stand out Singaporean health stats. I’ll bet my bottom dollar that they don’t include the health stats of the cheap foreign (non SG citizen) labourers in the country and whom at a guess make up over 20% of the workforce.

          • jbc 5.1.1.1.1

            Those stats are not just referring to the children of expats, but yes the stats also won’t include the children of the cheap foreign labourers because those children are not in the country. That’s a very good point and also a very sad side of the situation.

            I’ll repeat again: I’m not trying to push that way as the only solution, rather to point out that decisions and attitudes of parents play a huge part in the welfare of their kids.

            I’d go so far as to say that all of the children in a caring extended family could get looked after a whole lot better than those of a single parent isolated and on a benefit. I’m not a religious conservative (far from it) but it seems crazy that western governments seem to treat intact families as unfashionable these days given how much work they could save (for the governments).

            I may be alone in thinking this, but I get a feeling that welfare has a negative effect in that it lets the rest of society think that beneficiaries are ‘the government’s problem’ rather than something they should be more active in. I know that’s wrong but I pick it up from those on both sides of the fence.

            And here we are again, looking towards the government for a solution to kids that are not looked after.

            Poverty is an excuse I think. Poverty of attention, more likely.

            • rosy 5.1.1.1.1.1

              Part of the problem creating “attitudes and behaviours” that lead to improved outcomes for children do rely on money. When families are not in close proximity e.g. because they have moved away from their social network for jobs. Parenting is not instinctive and when family/social networks are broken someone or an organisation needs to replace them. This has been known for decades hence Plunket being founded on the belief that parents (mothers) needed to be trained to provide a healthy environment for their babies.

              These days new mothers leave hospital before breastfeeding is established and even before a baby is bathed and a mother can move about properly. Mothering is not instinctive, it’s learned mainly through mentoring. These days this costs money and Midwives and Tamariki Ora services are funded for only minimal home visits.

              Is this schedule is enough for struggling, isolated parents of a new baby?:

              From birth to four-to-six weeks, there are four Well Child health checks provided by your midwife or GP (general practitioner):
              birth (newborn examination)
              24 hours
              5 days
              2 – 4 weeks

              Having parents struggle from day one is setting up conditions for failure and abandonment later. Obviously most parents struggle through, but not many in poverty and isolation do it easily and as we well know there are plenty who fall through the gaps.

        • mik e 5.1.1.2

          jbc Yes we have a very serious problem alcohol, tobacco ,drugs, gambling, poor housing low wages, long term unemployment, hidden unemployment.a higher tax on these substances would be a very good start .Singapore is a city state which makes it a lot cheaper to deliver services where NZ is spread out infrastructure and services are harder and more expensive.but our main problem is we are not breaking the poverty cycle. until we re balance the spend on these addictive habits nothing is going to change.We are subsidizing these habits effectively when we should be subsidizing good housing R&D innovation Education.Singapore people have a different ethos a no nonsense iron fisted govt as well.

    • McFlock 5.2

      Well, Singapore also has compulsory medical savings schemes, and we can’t even sort out retirement savings. And they also seem to have strong government regulation of  medical costs.
       But thanks for the drunken parent stereotype.
       
       
       
       

      • mik e 5.2.1

        Mc Flock What i,m proposing is to tax these corporates who are costing us more than $10 billion in harm to our economy ,we are effectively subsidizing their profits, and put that money into dealing with poverty, substance abuse ,problem gambling .These addictive corporates are the real bludgers in our economy and should pay to fix the problems they cause. But their lobbiests are filling Nationals coffers.Jpc the enlarged family could work here but it would take a lot of money and people and time to achieve especially where people are in poverty traps. The Anglo Saxon way doesn’t work like that.Individual responsibility Thats the reason Nact are so popular.

  6. It is pretty simple – kids don’t have a vote, therefore, IMHO, families do worse off under business orientated policies that seek to assist ‘mum and dad investors’

  7. Marjorie Dawe 7

    The Nats might think it an easy solution. Make our youth feel so marginalised if they cant get jobs that arent there and then if they top themselves they are no longer a problem. What effect do they think their latest policy is going to have on these already vulnerable late teens?

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