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Children’s Social Health Monitor cause for concern

Children’s Social Health Monitor cause for concern

Too many New Zealand children are exposed to hardship and suffer poor health outcomes because of it, the Green Party said today.

“270,000 New Zealand children live in poverty, and this adversely affects their health and wellbeing,” Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei said.

Mrs Turei was commenting on the release of the Children’s Social Health Monitor 2011 Update, which paints a concerning picture of poor child outcomes linked to prevailing socio-economic conditions.

“One in five New Zealand children live in families reliant on benefits. While it doesn’t draw a direct link between welfare receipt and deprivation, the Children’s Social Health Monitor suggests that the level of support these kids receive is not enough to protect them from material hardship.

“The welfare system is supposed to provide a safety net for all New Zealanders, but it is failing our most vulnerable children.

“Too many kids are missing out on the basics – like warm clothing, fresh food, and regular doctor’s visits – and this means they miss the opportunity to have a great start in life.

“While it’s important to support parents to move off benefits and into work at the appropriate time, the National Government’s strategy of forcing parents into work or punishing them for remaining on benefits means more kids will fall through the cracks.

“We need to take care of kids living in hardship right now, regardless of the source of their parents’ income.”

Mrs Turei said the Green Party had a plan to bring 100,000 children out of poverty by 2014 which would help children living in hardship right now, and support sole parents to upskill and retrain in an appropriate manner.

“We would extend Working for Families support to all low income families, including those reliant on benefits, so that more kids are guaranteed the basics,” Mrs Turei said.

“At the same time, we would reinstate and extend the Training Incentive Allowance to provide better support for sole parents and beneficiaries to study at university.

“We’d also raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour immediately, because a significant number of children living in poverty have parents who are in paid work too.

“Whether their parents rely on benefits or work for low wages, the Children’s Social Health Monitor provides compelling reasons to ensure that we keep kids out of poverty,” Mrs Turei said.

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