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Commiss. welcomes budget assistance for children

Media release
Thursday May 27, 2004

Children's Commissioner welcomes budget assistance for children

Increased financial support for working families in today's budget will help many low and middle income families provide the basics for their children, according to Children's Commissioner Cindy Kiro.

Dr Kiro has welcomed the $1.1 billion Working for Families initiative, which will progressively put more money in the pockets of about 300,000 low to middle income households. Dr Kiro has also welcomed increased funding for social workers in schools and 20 hours free early childhood education for three to four year olds by 2007.

Dr Kiro says relief for low-income families is badly needed, with nearly 30 percent of New Zealand children living in poverty. She says it is clear many families with children have been struggling.

"I find it astonishing that Census data shows that 23,000 children are living in homes without heating, a situation that is clearly linked to an increased risk of acute asthma hospitalisations, pneumonia and other serious diseases."

"In practical terms, this funding means families will be able to put more nutritious food on the table, heat their homes, and pay for their children to take part in sport," Dr Kiro says.

However Dr Kiro points out 30 percent of New Zealand children live in families dependent on benefits and she will be looking at the detail of the budget to see how much these children will be assisted by the budget package.

Dr Kiro says the budget is a first step to eradicating child poverty but she would like to see a sustained government commitment, similar to the United Kingdom's commitment to end child poverty.

ENDS


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