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Children’s Village closures send a sad signal

Children’s Village closures send a sad signal of eroded funding


This week’s confirmed closure of two Children’s Villages run by Stand Children’s Services sends a signal that provision of funding for vital services to ensure the well-being of New Zealand’s most vulnerable children, families and whānau needs to be monitored and protected more closely, says the PSA.

"To say the least this is a disappointing result at several levels," says PSA Organiser Margaret Takoko.

"Firstly, given this week’s Budget is going to be focused on well-being, and the shortfall for keeping the Villages open in Otaki and Roxburgh was only $3 million there is real concern about how it is that a budget bid to keep them open failed.

"As seen by the way the community rallied in Roxburgh last week to protest the closure of the Village there, it is incredibly concerning that the combined voices of the community were not listened to earlier.

"The unique benefits that have come from community support for facilities like these over many decades, particularly those outside of urban centres, should never be so easily dismissed.

"The community, our PSA members, and most vitally the affected children and families, have been sorely let down by this decision.

"Under a Government that is committed to an approach under which no child should be left behind the loss of these life-changing residential programmes - including the loss of a holiday programme option available to grandparents raising grandchildren - cannot have anything but a negative impact.

"The PSA’s attention is now focused on the trauma that the 63 people being cut from their jobs are facing. We will be holding the management of both Stand and their major funder, Oranga Tamariki, to account to ensure that there is an active and coordinated response to redeploying the invaluable experience and expertise of those workers.

"These Villages are going to be closed as soon as the end of June, so there is absolutely no excuse for not having a contingency plan.

"One other important area of concern and disappointment emerging from this are the reasons that Stand has given as the root causes for the closures.

"We can understand Stand allocating blame to an erosion of funding since 2009 under the previous Government.

"However it is unjustified and unfair to associate the closures with a marginal increase in the salaries of some of the lowest paid professional staff in the sector - these are workers who were already subsidising the service by forgoing pay increases in the past!"

The Villages at Otaki and Roxburgh - known historically as Health Camps - have been the only residential service of their kind in their respective regions for children aged 5 to 12 who need support to recover from trauma.

Stand have indicated that remaining Villages located in Whangarei, Auckland, Gisborne, Rotorua and Christchurch will be "unaffected".

ENDS


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