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Cautious Support for Child Commissioner's Proposal

Wed January 25, 2005

Cautious Support for Child Commissioner's Proposal

"It's definitely worth looking at." That today from Christchurch based child support agency, The Family Help Trust.

Trust Director, Libby Robins, says Children's Commissioner, Cindy Kiro's suggestion all New Zealand children undergo four tests during their childhood to keep tabs on child welfare should be looked at and she sounds a word of warning.

"Too often schemes are floated and they look like a good idea but once it has been implemented the infrastructure isn't in place to follow the idea through and make it work effectively," she says.

"We also need to look at the status quo. We need to improve current reporting processes for teachers, doctors, nurses and so on, who suspect neglect or abuse and then make sure the systems are in place to deal with the problem; not simply put children on a waiting list that never gets acted on."

Robins also says the type of testing and who carries it out are key considerations.

"This shouldn't be about the state putting young children and their families through the mill. The Plunket system of regular "well child" checks works well when there is enough money and support. Plunket does an excellent job with the resources they have but they need to be funded properly," she says.

"The issue of privacy must be taken into consideration however the safety and wellbeing of a child must override any such concerns. That would only become an issue in a minority of cases."

"Our child safety statistics are appalling and something must be done to nip it in the bud as soon as possible. Funding, for example, the Plunket service effectively, would certainly go part of the way to improving the welfare of our families and children," says Libby Robins.

ENDS

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