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Child Welfare Obligations a Sensible Approach

John Banks
ACT Leader

September 11 2012

Child Welfare Obligations a Sensible Approach

ACT Leader John Banks today welcomed Social Development Minister Paula Bennett’s announcement that welfare recipients with dependent children will have mutual obligations focused on the health and wellbeing of their children.

“Preventing child poverty is a critical aim of welfare reform, which is why, as part of ACT’s Confidence and Supply Agreement with National, ACT negotiated for the implementation of Recommendation 27 of the Welfare Working Group’s Report,” Mr Banks said.

Recommendation 27 requires beneficiaries with dependent children to meet a number of obligations. These are to:
• ensure their children are attending school when they are legally required to;
• ensure their children participate in approved early childhood education once their child reaches three years of age; and
• ensure their children complete the 12 free Wellchild/Tamariki Ora health checks, which include completion of the immunisation schedule, unless they make an informed choice not to.

The Minister’s announcement today introduces all these requirements as well as a requirement for parents to enrol their child with a GP. Failure to meet these obligations will see beneficiaries face a graduated sanctions process, capped at 50 per cent.

“We are pleased to have negotiated a policy that encourages more responsibility – one of ACT’s core values,” Mr Banks said.

“ACT has always believed that education is one of the best ways to lift children from a life of poverty, increasing their job prospects and their ability to command a higher wage.

“Requiring all children to participate in ECE from age three will improve every child’s chances of success at school. It will help to address low participation rates of low socio-economic families, especially those of Maori and Pacific Island descent.

“If children are to get the most out of education, they must also be well enough to do so. Putting an obligation on parents to take their child to the doctor for their free check-ups will ensure any health problems are caught early and can be addressed.

“ACT believes that it is reasonable that welfare recipients must meet sensible obligations in order to retain their welfare payment – especially when it comes to the welfare of children.

“Today’s announcement represents the introduction of further mutual obligations into welfare and ACT is pleased to have contributed to such a sensible approach,” Mr Banks said.

ENDS

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