Who is counting the children?
CPAG applauds Every Child Counts for highlighting the economic costs of neglecting children's needs. Its new report “1000 days to get it right for every
child” shows New Zealand has a very poor record indeed in child outcomes.
But while the economic costs of child poverty are high, spokesperson Susan St John says “lets not forget children also
have a right to be happy, healthy, safe, well-nourished and appropriately housed, regardless of the effect on GDP.”
Since the early 1990s, Child Poverty Action Group and many other groups have reported regularly on the poverty
experienced by literally hundreds of thousands of New Zealand's children.
"The better policies of other countries are producing much better outcomes for their children. We need to see where New
Zealand’s policies are failing and be prepared to spend more” says Associate Professor St John.
John Key's response saying that the needs of poor children have to be balanced against the needs of other New Zealanders
belies the seriousness of the situation.
CPAG agrees with the report when it notes that while low income may not always be the root problem, having access to
sufficient resources is vital. “Let us ask, what does it take to allow young parents and their babies to thrive?” says
Associate Professor St John. “The answer is not going to be just forcing sole parents of very young children to
participate in paid work”.
“Our present policies are ineffective for far too many families. We must learn from other countries whose child
well-being scores are so much higher. Better paid parental leave and support of new-borns; better housing policies; full
access to health and early childhood education; removal of the discrimination against the poorest children in the
benefit system; and less punitive policies for part-time work, are all part of the solution.”