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Turner: Keep Sight Of Children's Best Interests

Media Statement
For immediate release
Monday, 31 January 2005

Turner: Keep sight of children's best interests

United Future deputy leader Judy Turner today urged the Government not to lose sight of children's best interests in response to Prime Minister Helen Clark's push for more women to be involved in paid employment to overcome workforce shortages.

"It is important that women are supported to enter the workforce, but it is equally important that parents feel they can make the choice to invest in the development of their young children - educational, social and emotional - by being at home," Mrs Turner said.

"This is not an archaic 'the father-is-the-breadwinner' attitude, but basically recognising the benefits to children of having a parent at home during their early years."

A Ministry of Women's Affairs report late last year noted that several factors contribute to poor outcomes for children: when a child is in poor quality, extensive early childhood education or non-maternal care from a very young age, particularly if combined with poor quality interactions at home.

"The Prime Minister is talking about following in the footsteps of Britain's plans to introduce dawn to dusk programmes which would see young children in school from 8am until 6pm. I am concerned that children pouring out of schools at 3.30 into waiting cars and parents hands could become a thing of the past.

"I share the concerns of UK educators who are worried that extended hours of childcare will create psychological issues for children who spend up to 10 hours a day in school and don't have breakfast or valuable after-school time with their parents. And for children under five especially, this interaction is vital."

Ends.


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