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Budget response: The good, the bad, and the stupid

Budget response: The good, the bad, and the stupid.

The good news in the Budget is that the Government has recognised that families matter, and has taken pains to help and support many New Zealand families.

Benefit support and tax relief measures will be a great help for many families. Meeting the needs of a growing family has never been more difficult. Every bit of income helps.

The expansion of the Family Start programme from 16 to 24 communities and the employment of an additional 38 social workers in schools are all good measures. So too, is taking a cross generational approach to rebuilding communities with the development of the home and community based mentoring programme by older New Zealanders to support young families.

Similarly, rolling out the family violence intervention pilot programme across all 12 Work and Income regions is a good move in breaking cycles of violence.

Parents Centre NZ Inc applauds these attempts to rebuild communities.

The bad news in the budget is that in spending $365 million over the next four years on early childhood education the Government fails to value the influence of parents in the lives of their own children. From 2007 three and four year olds children will be entitled to 20 hours free attendance per week at a community based early childhood education service.

While there are some clear benefits in early childhood education it is not the be all and end all of childhood. Parent education is an investment in future generations.

This Government is hell bent on institutionalising childhood at the expense of upskilling parents. Parents need to be supported and encouraged in developing the skills they need which will meet the changing needs of their children. Relying on early childhood institutions is a reflection of narrow focussed thinking.

And the Stupid. The preoccupation with getting everyone into the workforce is a failure to recognise the changing needs of family dynamics.

Full employment is not the only option to meeting our social goals. Work is not necessarily an end in itself. Parents Centre firmly believes parents should have a right not to work if it benefits the family dynamic. Parents should not be forced to work at all costs.

We want the ability to reclaim the right and the choice to raise our families, and we deserve nay demand, the support of a so-called family conscious government in order to do so. This would indeed have been the validation of their intent.

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