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Growing Up in New Zealand Report exploring vulnerability

Early identification of vulnerable children: Growing Up in New Zealand Report exploring vulnerability

21 July 2014

The Chief Executive of the Families Commission says the Growing Up in New Zealand (GUiNZ) report released today is the first step towards developing a greater understanding of vulnerability in the New Zealand context.

Families Commission Chief Executive Clare Ward says the report is an important resource that will contribute evidence about what works for vulnerable children and their families in contemporary New Zealand.

Growing Up in New Zealand is the largest, and most ethnically and economically diverse, longitudinal study ever undertaken in New Zealand. It is studying the life of 7000 children and their families, recruited from across the greater Auckland and Waikato regions. The study is based at the University of Auckland and the Families Commission manages the GUiNZ contract.

Vulnerability report 1: Exploring the definition of vulnerability for children in their first 1000 days, builds on earlier work looking at the critical first two years of the children’s development, starting before their birth.

Clare Ward says, “This report identifies a set of twelve risk factors that could be used to identify and assess vulnerability in the early stages of a child’s life growing up in New Zealand. It will help us to identify at an early age those children who need additional support to ensure they achieve their full potential.

“Through this report, we can better understand what characteristics of parents, families and their environments are likely to promote resilience in the face of exposure to vulnerability, and are vital to improving the wellbeing of children.

"We know the first 1000 days are critical in a child’s development, setting a foundation for: brain development; acquisition of language skills; physical development; gaining of social skills and cultural capacity; health and wellbeing. This uniquely New Zealand report will inform key social, health and education decisions."

“One of the points of difference of SuPERU/ the new Families Commission, is that we offer a cross sector, system wide perspective. So we are well placed to facilitate conversations across the wider social sector to consider these findings and facilitate work towards developing sector-wide solutions.”

The role of the Families Commission is to ensure the results of this study are used so decision-makers across the research, central and local government, and community sectors have the information they need to make better informed decisions.

A further report exploring the children's transitions in and out of vulnerability is to be released next year.

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