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Family Help Trust Urges Govt to Look at Facts

Support agency pleads with Government to look at the facts

Only 10 months after a UNICEF survey revealed New Zealand has the third highest rate of child abuse deaths among 26 OECD countries, another UNICEF New Zealand report today says policy changes are needed to reduce violence against children.

The Family Help Trust hopes the latest information will encourage the Government to seriously look at increasing funding for services such as those offered by the Trust which are intensive, proven to be successful early intervention programmes working with at-risk children in high-risk families,

"The UNICEF report out today makes mention of the Government funded Family Start programme," says Trust board member and University of Canterbury lecturer in Social Work, Annabel Taylor.

"It says Family Start, a home based programme, has yet to be evaluated and also talks about "a small number of other non-government initiated early intervention services that rely on Government funding to exist but also have to fundraise". To continue operating, The Family Help Trust relies on fundraising, local Government funding and the generosity of charitable organisations for grants," says Annabel Taylor. "We have also been recently independently evaluated and the results of our work with at-risk children and their families were outstanding."

The Trust believes by getting in as early as possible, by assisting families to address their problems, to look at alternatives and learn new skills, the chance of the cycle of crime and violence being repeated in the children is greatly reduced. Kids don't come with an instruction book.

"There's no manual for raising a family. There's no secret recipe for having a functional, happy home life. But there are life skills which can be learned to help families meet and overcome obstacles", says Annabel Taylor.

The Trust agrees with UNICEF's Beth Wood who today said although the Government has been trying to improve the situation, it needs to implement a national plan of action with goals and measures so it can be re-assessed in five years. Annabel Taylor says that plan must embrace the success of proven early intervention programmes.

"Early intervention is the key to the success of our work, and the amazing outcomes we have seen over the years in our families and their children," she says.

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