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Playcentre supports the call to end child poverty

New Zealand Playcentre Federation
28 April 2008

Media Release

Playcentre supports the call to end child poverty

The Child Poverty Action Group released tonight a report detailing the effects which entrenched poverty is having on our most vulnerable citizens, with a call for the government to set targets to end child poverty by 2020.

The report, Left behind: how social and income inequalities damage New Zealand children, highlights the multiple effects on children in the areas of health, education and housing of government welfare and employment policies.

These effects come about because the government is slow to acknowledge that raising children is real work, and should be valued alongside paid employment as a real contribution to New Zealand society. Playcentre supports the recommendations in this report, and calls for government agencies and opposition parties to take these recommendations seriously.

“Playcentre is well known for the support it gives to families during the exhausting early years. It is often the backbone of the community, especially in rural areas”, said Playcentre Federation President Marion Pilkington. “And young parents, who may be separated from extended family support, need that community support to help them learn parenting skills and to do the best job of raising their children.”

One recommendation made by the report is to include parent-led services, including Playcentre, in the government's 20 Hours Free early childhood education policy. Currently, access to early childhood education is restricted in low socio-economic areas, meaning that the poorest children, who would most benefit from access to quality education, are most likely to miss out on it. Inclusion in the policy would help Playcentre serve their communities well, and signal that the government values parents as first educators of young children.

Jennie Ritchie, contributing author of the report, says that including Playcentre in this policy would benefit parents and whanau as well as children as it would enable them to learn more about and contribute to their child's education, and also to contribute to the community.

“The exclusion of Playcentre from the 20 Free Hours policy implies that one size fits all when it comes to early education” said Marion Pilkington. “However, this ignores the emotional support which this job requires, and the learning that all parents need in order to do the job of parenting well.”


Playcentre provides quality early childhood and parent education in nearly 500 centres around the country, serving over 15,000 children and their families.


ENDS

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