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Wanted: an approach to get best start for children

Media Release
For immediate release
30 November

Wanted: a coordinated approach to get the best start for every child

Two separate reports released earlier this week are giving New Zealand the clear message that the nation is not giving its children the best start in life. And it's a message that the country can't afford to ignore.

The Quality of Life Report 2007, a multi-council initiative released on Tuesday, concluded that although the vast majority of residents in New Zealand say they have a positive overall quality of life, the wellbeing and safety of children remains a critical national and urban issue.

The Child and Youth Health Monitoring Reports, released by the Paediatric Society on Monday, also paint a rather dismal picture of the health of children and young people in New Zealand. The reports show large disparities in health outcomes especially for those living in socio-economically deprived areas and they clearly outline a need for greater investment in children and young people in New Zealand, and for a single coordinated approach to improve outcomes.

"Parents want the best for their children but they need the resource, education and support to be able to do this well. It is vital that all families have the support they need and that they are connected to the services that will help them give their children the best start in life," says Paul Baigent, CEO Plunket.

As part of its Five Years For Under Fives future focus, Plunket is calling for New Zealand to take responsibility to provide more support and increased investment in the first five years of children's lives.

There are a complex range of contributing factors to the appalling state of our children's health and wellbeing, and Plunket believes that investment in the early years and a focus on wellness is essential.

Plunket wants New Zealand to take actions that will make a real difference and these are:

Increasing investment in the early years

Making parenting education freely available to all and part of the core curriculum in schools

Ensuring families have a 'well child' champion to connect them to the services they need

Expanding well child to embrace well family

Ensuring support is available to all families through a national 'well child' database

Plunket is pledging to deliver more support in accordance with families' needs; advocate for increased investment for the under fives; work with others in the sector to create an integrated, shared network of support, so that every family will be given the opportunity to access the services they need.

"As a country, we've talked enough. We know what the issues are and now its time to 'step up' and take action," says Paul Baigent, CEO of Plunket.

Plunket acknowledges that ultimately it is families that are responsible for supporting their children but everyone needs to contribute to providing families with support. Plunket is calling for the whole of New Zealand to pull together and increase its efforts to get the best start for New Zealand's children.

- Ends -

About the Royal New Zealand Plunket Society

The Royal New Zealand Plunket Society (Plunket) this year celebrates its centenary year. Plunket is New Zealand's largest provider of services to support the health and development of children under five and is dedicated to working with parents and communities to ensure that New Zealand children get the best start in life. Plunket's services help families nationwide, through over 550 branches, mobile clinics and a free phone service, PlunketLine 0800 933 922. For more information go to www.plunket.org.nz


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