Every child in Aotearoa New Zealand deserves a great start in life and investing in our most at-risk children as early as possible helps build stronger whānau and communities.
That’s the message from the country’s leading provider of children’s social services, Barnardos New Zealand, following the Prime Minister’s announcement today of increased investment in supporting vulnerable children in Budget 2017.
The increase in investment, along with a new set of Better Public Services targets, which include a focus on improving the lives of vulnerable children and their families, has been welcomed by Barnardos.
“At Barnardos, we believe the best investments are those that put the child at the centre and improve the lives of Aotearoa New Zealand’s tamariki and rangatahi,” says Barnardos Chief Executive Jeff Sanders. “This is particularly true for children who are at risk of poor education, health and social outcomes. By investing in them early, we’ll be helping to make a crucial difference, setting them on a path to brighter futures.”
The new Social Investment Package will see $321 million invested over 4 years to help some of the country's most at-risk children. As part of the package, the Government will invest $28.1 million in a nation-wide roll-out of Family Start — a child-centred, strengths-based programme supporting whānau with very young children at risk of challenges which may impact on the child’s ability to flourish.
Barnardos works with thousands of vulnerable children each year in communities throughout New Zealand and currently delivers Family Start in Taranaki. The programme sees social workers visiting families in their homes to help improve children’s health, learning, relationships and safety.
Since the organisation began delivering Family Start in late 2016, Barnardos staff have seen significant improvements in the lives of the children and families they’ve worked with. “With Family Start, we’re able to work with families from very early on in a child’s life and for up to 5 years if they need that ongoing support,” says Mr Sanders. “This allows us to take a long-term view while also supporting families to make immediate improvements to household structures and routines, children’s health, and to address serious issues such as family violence. It’s a holistic, child-centred service and it’s fantastic that we now have the opportunity for more children to benefit from it.”
The Prime Minister today also announced 10 new Better Public Services targets, with ‘Improving the lifetime wellbeing of vulnerable children’, ‘Healthy mums and babies’ and ‘Better access to social housing’ among the targets. Sanders says Barnardos welcomes the Government’s commitment to improving outcomes for tamariki and their whānau—including the most vulnerable—through the new targets.
“It was great to hear Mr English stating that changing lives is what drives him as Prime Minister,” says Mr Sanders. “Kiwis used to believe that Aotearoa New Zealand was the best place in the world to be a child. We all need to work together make sure that our country is again an excellent place to begin life and grow up. At Barnardos, we believe that strong communities start with children who are supported, educated and protected in all aspects of their lives so they can shine bright.”
“We welcome the Prime Minister’s view that ‘a great country is one where children with a tough start will be supported so they can live good lives’ — this new investment and commitment is an important step towards that.”
For more information, contact Barnardos Brand Manager, Elena Walter, on 027 217 5175.