1000 Days to Ret it Right for Every Child: 500 Days to Go
Media release from Every Child Counts
1000 days to get it right for every child: 500 days to go
3 May 2013
1000 days to get it right for every child: just 500 days to go
Today marks the approximate half-way mark of this parliamentary term, meaning the current parliament has just 500 days left to progress the status and wellbeing of our children says Every Child Counts*.
“There is overwhelming evidence that the best investment governments can make in children is during the early years – or the first 1000 days of life. To encourage more effective investment in our youngest children during this parliamentary term, Every Child Counts launched the ‘1000 days’ campaign when the government was formed in 2011,” says Deborah Morris-Travers, Every Child Counts manager.
"Our website has been counting down the 1000 days of the parliamentary term and we've been reminding MPs to focus on children, particularly the children in their first 1000 days of life.
"This parliament has progressed a number of measures that will benefit children, while also dragging its feet on other important measures, such as addressing child poverty and responding to the 2011 recommendations from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.
“In the absence of a comprehensive strategic plan for children, there has been a range of policy measures introduced that appear to be piecemeal, uncoordinated and in conflict with each other.
“Among the positive
developments during this parliamentary term are:
• Increased availability of free healthcare for children under 6
• Increased investment in maternity services and Well Child Health
• Efforts to curb Rheumatic fever
• Improved rates of vaccination
• Increased investment in early childhood education with an effort to increase participation for Maori and Pasifika children
• Better Public Service targets such as NCEA Level 2 for all school leavers
• The National Science Challenge priority: A better start – improving the potential of young New Zealanders to have a healthy and successful life
• Improvements to the Child Support Act
• Prime Minister’s Youth Mental Health Project, and
• The Wellbeing@School, anti-bullying programme.
In addition, a number of other initiatives have potential
to improve life for children if recommendations, law or
plans are implemented well, including:
• The Vulnerable Children’s Action Plan
• The Health Select Committee inquiry into preventing child abuse
• The Maori Affairs Select Committee inquiry into the wellbeing of Maori children
• The Labour Party Bill to extend paid parental leave provision, and
• The Mana Party Bill to provide a legislative framework for food in schools.
• “The areas that highlight a lack of
progress and coordination include:
• The absence of a strategic plan and targets for improving overall child wellbeing
• Limited progress from the Ministerial Committee on Poverty and a muted response from the government to recommendations from the Expert Advisory Group on Solutions to Child Poverty
• Failure by all parties to work across party lines to progress solutions to child poverty
• Minimal political leadership to create a culture that values children and parents
• Continuing emphasis on paid work at the expense of the important work of parenting
• Welfare reform and sanctions that may plunge families into greater hardship
• Parliament’s rejection of the Green Party Bill to extend the In-Work Tax Credit to children in beneficiary homes
• Changes to the Family Court, which may increase the vulnerability of children at the same time as the government is seeking to respond to the most vulnerable children
• A failure to systematically include the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in policy-making and law, or remove reservations under the Convention
• Patchy consideration of the impact of policies on children
• Amendments to the Local Government Act to limit its scope and remove the focus on community wellbeing
• Charter Schools that will allow unqualified teachers to teach high needs students
• Enduring disparities in literacy, numeracy and income levels for some population groups
• 300,000 young people not in education, employment or training (NEETS)
• Child health data clearly illustrating disparities in the wellbeing of Maori and Pasifika children, with these children experiencing more infectious diseases and child maltreatment than others do, and
• Continuing high cost and poor quality of housing, with home insulation programmes likely to end.
“While it is clear that this parliament has focused on children more than previous parliaments have done, there remain significant challenges for parliamentarians in all parties to ensure that New Zealand has the policies, practices and attitudes needed to ensure that every child thrives.
“Now that we are halfway through the parliamentary term, Every Child Counts urges all MPs to ensure they make the most of the remaining 500 days of the term to progress children’s interests. If every child thrives our nation will be stronger both economically and socially," concludes Ms Morris-Travers.
*Every Child Counts is a coalition of organisations and individuals working to increase the status and wellbeing of New Zealand children, driven by UNICEF, Save the Children, Plunket, Barnardos and Ririki.