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“It’s about our kids” – Labour’s policy for children

Annette KING
Labour Deputy Leader
Monday, 7 November 2011

“It’s about our kids” – Labour’s policy for children

Labour’s Deputy Leader Annette King today launched Labour’s policy for children – “It’s about our kids”.

“We have made it clear that children will be a major focus of our policies at this election,” Annette King said at the launch at a school in West Auckland.

“We believe New Zealand is the best place in the world to bring up children.

“But that’s not true for every child growing up in this country. We have some of the worst statistics in the OECD for child health and wellbeing.

“That is why we are committing to making a major investment in children, starting at the beginning – up to the age of six.

“The policy has six key areas, which include the following major elements:

• Ensure every 3 and 4 year old has access to free 20 hours Early Childhood Education a week, maintain fees control, work with the sector to reinstate 100% qualified teachers and restore cuts made by this government over time;
• Assist 150,000 of our poorest families with children, with an extra $70-$80 a week. This will come through Labour’s $5000 tax free zone and by extending, in three steps, full Working for Families eligibility to people who currently don’t meet the criteria for the ‘In Work Tax Credit’ component.
• Provide free 24 hours a day seven days a week access to primary health care for all under 6s – through new funding, not cuts to other services;
• Extend paid parental leave to 26 weeks in two steps;
• Provide high quality ECE and parent support from 18 months to 3 years for very vulnerable children;
• Fund free dental treatment for all pregnant women – studies show 18% of premature births are attributed to poor oral health in mothers;
• Set in legislation an official poverty measure -- for the first time in New Zealand;
• Support all parents by registering every child with a Well Child provider of their parents’ choice before birth and resourcing those providers to assist families who need additional support;
• Make leadership, legislative and structural changes to drive through the policy’s implementation.
“Children are the most vulnerable members of our society. They are the first to feel the effects of a recession and the last to benefit from a recovery.

“Investment in children is not being given enough of a priority, and that needs to change. Our fully costed plan will make that change happen over six years.

“Investing in children is the most important investment a country can make. After all, funding can always seem to be found for other areas.

“It will pay dividends in the long term – a better educated workforce, fewer health problems and less crime.

“It is long past the time for us to act on children’s behalf,” Annette King said.

ENDS

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