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1000 days to get it right for every child

16 August 2011

Media statement
Every Child Counts

1000 days to get it right for every child: Time for courage on children’s issues

Following the release of an economic analysis indicating that poor child outcomes are costing the nation billions of dollars every year ($6bn per annum/ 3 percent of GDP), Every Child Counts* is calling for courageous responses from all political parties.

“The social justice and economic arguments in support of prioritising public effective investment in children – and especially the first 1000 days of life – are irrefutable. Improving life for our youngest citizens is the right thing to do – and it will deliver economic benefits to the nation – but doing so will involve courage from political parties,” said Murray Edridge, Chair of Every Child Counts.

“Every Child Counts is a coalition formed in 2004 to help put children’s issues onto the political agenda. For seven years we have been working to promote political understanding of the very sound reasons to focus on children but for the most part political parties have failed to give adequate attention to this area of policy.

“This year there are signs that a number of political parties are turning their attention to this much-neglected area of social and economic policy. However, there is not yet sufficient acknowledgement in the context of welfare debates that investment in the early years is what helps create the teenagers and young adults that are employable, productive citizens.

“We know it is easy for politicians to justify doing more of the same – or nothing – because pressure comes on from other groups of voters in society. If this happens, children’s issues could once again be marginalised and the children living in the worst hardship would continue to be ignored.

“We want to see courage from all political parties that will ensure children’s interests are firmly in focus, current spending is reviewed for effectiveness through a properly transparent process, and new ways of working are developed so that policies can be advanced that genuinely ensure every child gets a good start in the first 1000 days. Looking at the experience and methodologies used in other countries should be part of this commitment.

“Yesterday we saw an announcement that Police, the Ministry of Social Development and Health will be sharing information to improve child outcomes. This kind of cooperation is imperative.

“The major child and family agencies working under the Every Child Counts umbrella will continue coordinating their efforts for as long as it takes to ensure that New Zealand get it right in the first 1000 days of a child’s life,” concluded Mr Edridge.

ENDS

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