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Making sure every child gets a good start

Bill English National Party Leader

14 March 2002

Making sure every child gets a good start

National wants every child to get a good start which can only be achieved by improving the outcomes for all children, says National Party Leader Bill English.

"I feel passionate about this. I know how hard it is to raise a family and I know I am luckier than most. I have nothing but admiration for the many families who are doing a first class job of raising their children.

" In the future we will get the country we deserve. If we look after our children well now, then that will provide a sound framework for how they act and behave in the future. We must create an environment where children are valued.

"Today I am releasing a discussion document that outlines some of the ideas that National thinks will make a difference to the future of this country and its children. Raising children requires skill and cash. National wants to assist with both.

"National also wants to send a clear message that violence toward children is never acceptable. Too many innocent lives have been lost. We must not let any more suffer. This is not just a challenge to National but also a challenge to every adult in this country.

"The social cost if we don't is too great as this present Government is finding out. It's fine for the Prime Minister to grandstand on the international stage but what is she doing to raise the standards for New Zealand children? Absolutely nothing.

"I want the best for my children, I want the best for all children and a Government lead by myself will do just that.

"In releasing this document I appeal to everyone interested in the future of our children to read it carefully and give us feedback on what they think. National wants to get this right.

"Children are a nation's most important asset, so I look forward to hearing from interested parties about what they think of our plan to give every child a good start," says Mr English.

The discussion document will focus on several key areas that are under consideration.

* Simplify family assistance.
* Pay family assistance in the wage packet.
* Make home visitation programmes available to many more families
* Get Government and community agencies working together to reduce transience.
* Expand Kidznet to ensure services are getting to the children who need them most
* Get community agencies more involved in the care and protection of children.
* Increase financial support for foster parents, improve training and social work support for foster parents, and ensure that foster parents aren't left paying large bills for damage done to their homes.
* Encourage CYFS to place children permanently within two years, review current practice and law affecting the long term care of children.
* Increase public education aimed at reducing violence towards children. Amend Section 59 of the Crimes Act- remove infanticide and review sentencing for offences against children.


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