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Poor child outcomes cost New Zealand $6 billion annually

Monday 15 August 2011, 4:32PM
By Save the Children New Zealand
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A report released today by the organization Every Child Counts finds that the lack of investment in a child’s early years costs the nation at least 3 per cent of the GDP, or NZD 6 billion, every year.

The report, which is part of a new child-focused campaign surrounding the Green Paper on Vulnerable Children, highlights the importance of adequate public and community investment in a child’s first few years of life.

Every Child Counts is composed of leading children’s organizations, including Save the Children New Zealand, Barnardos NZ, Royal New Zealand Plunket Society, UNICEF and the Institute of Public Policy at AUT University.

CEO of Save the Children New Zealand Liz Gibbs says that the first 1000 days of a child’s life are the most important phase of their development and this campaign is partly being used to urge politicians to ensure that the 1000 days they spend in each parliamentary term is used with children’s needs in mind.

 “The report outlines that New Zealand’s investment in children is among the lowest in the OECD and we have one of the worst child outcomes in the OECD,” Ms Gibbs says.

“This campaign is about effective investments in children so that New Zealand has a healthy, well-educated work force for the future.”

Among other findings, the Every Child Counts’ report concludes that the geographic targeting of family support services, investment in the improvement of women of childbearing age’s health, and the accessibility of quality childcare and early childhood education in low income communities, will all make a difference for Kiwi children.

“There is a lot of evidence that shows that improving children’s lives is still achievable with low levels of public investment.  For example, the Netherlands also has comparatively low levels of public investment but they have much better outcomes.

“Every Child Counts will be doing further work to identify the policies and programmes that work so well for children in the Netherland,” Ms Gibbs says.

A companion report to the report released today will be available on September 2.

The two reports commissioned by Every Child Counts include:

1000 days to get it right for every child - The effectiveness of public investment in New Zealand children by David Grimmond of Infometrics Ltd (released 14 August 2011 and available at www.everychildcounts.org.nz)

The effective of public investment in Māori and Pacific children by Manuka Henare, Assoc Dean Māori and Pacific Development, Auckland University (to be released in Auckland on 2 September 2011).