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At-risk children need Government support

At-risk children need Government support

Don’t ignore our most needy children especially when there’s money in the kitty says Christchurch’s Family Help Trust.

Trust Chairperson, Sally Thompson, is disappointed that at-risk children in high-risk Christchurch families have missed out in the Government’s budget today. Ms Thompson believes it’s all about priorities, and with a $4 billion surplus announced with the budget, she says there should be more money available for our most needy children and their families.

“$11.6 million announced for the arts, $45 million to go to sport and recreation - it’s excellent news for those areas. But with such a huge surplus, the Government should be in a position to make a substantial investment in facing up to the ongoing problems with the crime rate and childhood abuse. If we don’t deal with this now, we will be squandering an opportunity to make some real progress,” she says.

Early childhood intervention is one of the keys to lowering the rates of crime and childhood abuse in New Zealand. This is supported by the Roper Report (1987, NZ), American criminologist, Dr Ronald Huff, and American paediatric researcher, Professor Dr Bruce Perry (see Media Kit).

“We have to stop putting the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. The costs, both social and financial, are too great. Our programmes are the barrier before the edge of the cliff,” Ms Thompson says.

Dr Perry agrees. “What we are, as adults, is the product of the world we experienced as children. The way a society functions is a reflection of the childrearing practices of that society. Today we reap what we have sown,” he says.

A report produced in August 2002 by the Action for Children and Youth Aotearoa (ACYA) states that New Zealand is failing to protect children from violence, and falling below United Nations requirements for meeting their needs.

Sally Thompson says that with all of the statistical information, studies and reports, which support the importance of early intervention work with families, it’s a shame that the old ambulance is still pulling up at the bottom of the cliff.

“Non-intervention can cost 19 times more than effective early intervention* carried out by the Family Help Trust. Family Violence costs the country an average of $1.2 billion a year. We can’t even begin to quantify the personal and emotional cost to the children and the family.

“It costs us $5,000 to work with a family. That’s a drop in the ocean when you consider a surplus of $4 billion dollars, and how much misery and money it would save our families and the taxpayer in the long term, if the Government provided some funding for our early intervention programmes,” says Sally Thompson.

There are currently seven ‘high risk’ families on a waiting list at Family Help Trust who would benefit greatly from increased funding.

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