Barnardos, Aotearoa’s national children’s charity shaping brighter futures together with children and families, says that tomorrow’s Budget 2020 must have a strong focus on children, whānau and the organisations that help them.
Barnardos Chief Executive Mike Munnelly says Barnardos welcomes the Government’s focus in Budget 2020 on recovery from COVID-19 and that it will still be ‘guided by a wellbeing approach’, putting people at its centre.
“Every day at Barnardos we are working with children in their early years, as well as children, young people and families in their toughest times. We champion them and their needs and rights. So, we are really pleased to hear the Minister of Finance say that Budget 2020 will focus on recovery, but that it’s also time to tackle long-term issues. We agree with the Minister of Finance that things were far from perfect before COVID-19 in the lives of many children and whānau, but we know that New Zealanders want to see this change”, Mr Munnelly says.
Barnardos is looking to the Budget to place a strong focus on strengthening support for children, families and communities facing multiple challenges including family poverty, family violence, mental health struggles and systemic inequities. Though exacerbated by COVID-19, many of the toughest challenges facing children and families are historic and pervasive in New Zealand society. Barnardos says that Budget 2020 is an important moment where choices will be made that will affect a generation of Aotearoa’s tamariki.
Mr Munnelly says that Barnardos welcomes the positive commitments already announced in the pre-Budget phase. Citing the initial $25 rise in core benefits, public spending addressing homelessness, and strengthening family and sexual violence services, Mr Munnelly says these are early indicators of a Budget 2020 which Barnardos hopes will invest in tackling the big problems facing children, families and communities.
As an organisation providing Home Based and Centre Based early learning services, Barnardos is particularly pleased to see early childhood education funding feature in Budget 2020, as announced by the Minister of Education earlier this week. “This is a good first step towards government making the 10 year Early Learning Action Plan, He Taonga te Tamaiti, a reality. More will be needed over future years, but we are pleased to see this spending going into the crucial early years of children’s lives, which should have a positive impact on them, their whānau, and lifetime outcomes”, Mr Munnelly says.
Barnardos also hopes to see significant funding increases for the NGO and Iwi/Māori social services included in Budget 2020. Investing to address the approximately $630 million annual underfunding gap experienced by this part of Aotearoa’s social sector will have a direct impact on the wellbeing of children and whānau, and is much needed. NGO and Iwi/Māori social services have played a major role in the front-line response to COVID-19, with many families and whānau reliant on their help through the pandemic.
Mr Munnelly says that Barnardos, along with many other not-for profit organisations, has been “proud to play our part in the pandemic response, keeping children and whānau safe from family violence, providing mental health support to children and parents, helping families and whānau access support, and providing emergency needs to those who would otherwise have gone without. We hope to see the many years of underfunding of the social services sector being addressed with strong investment in community-based social services in this year's Budget.” Mr Munnelly says that alongside the Budget investment in ECE funding, an investment package for NGO and Iwi/Māori social services would recognise the on-going and essential role the sector will play in rebuilding a better New Zealand for children and families. He says that for Aotearoa to be a place where every child shines bright, a sustainable community social services sector is necessary, and only government can ensure its sustainability.
Barnardos says it will be watching closely tomorrow as Budget 2020 is revealed, in the hope that the Government will place children and families’ outcomes centrally, to address long-term challenges as well as immediate COVID-19 recovery.