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Budget 2003 Project Early to help kids in Auckland

Budget 2003 Project Early to help kids in Auckland

A successful early intervention programme for children with behavioural problems, piloted in Christchurch, is to be established in Auckland, Justice Minister Phil Goff announced today.

“Funding of $600,000 over the next three years will see Project Early operating in a cluster of Auckland primary schools and early childhood centres from next January. The funding also secures the on-going programme in Christchurch,” Mr Goff said.

“Project Early involves trained specialists in early education working with teachers and parents to identify and remedy behavioural problems in children aged four to eight, when the problems first become obvious," Mr Goff said.

"The success of Project Early in Christchurch is an excellent foundation for developing the programme nationally, and launching it in Auckland is the first step in achieving that.

"Formal evaluation of the project found that it was successful in dealing with, and permanently resolving, behavioural problems in 80 percent of its interventions.

"Far too often behavioural problems are left to become entrenched before they are addressed, when interventions are much more costly and less effective.

"By intervening early, we can prevent the wasted potential and the human and social costs which would otherwise be incurred through educational, behavioural and offending problems.

"It is significant that as Minister of Justice that I am announcing an education initiative. We know early intervention works and the earlier the better. This matches my commitment to programmes that are designed to ensure that young children do not start down the road to serious offending," Mr Goff said.

Associate Education Minister Lianne Dalziel welcomed the announcement.

"Project Early in Christchurch has been an important tool in helping students learn effectively by reinforcing appropriate behaviour at home and at school. “The key lies in its holistic approach, recognising that students need support outside the school setting. By assisting students and their families at home, we provide a stronger basis for better participation at school and it helps these children stay engaged in education,” Lianne Dalziel said.

John Langley, one of the five school principals who started Project Early and now chief executive of the Auckland College of Education, will assist with establishing the Auckland cluster. Work will shortly begin to identify schools that could be involved.

"Funding for this early intervention programme to be developed in Auckland is excellent news," Dr Langley said.

"It is absolutely critical to have schools buying in to the process and taking ownership of it. The reason why Project Early has worked so well in Christchurch is that it has very much been a team effort involving all the schools and early childhood centres in the cluster, and not something being driven by just one or two people."

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