Government delivering improvements to children’s lives
- 25% reduction in children aged 0-14 who live in households where food runs out sometimes or often, compared to the previous year (2019/20)
- 30% reduction in children aged 0-17 who live in low-income households after housing costs, over three years (from 2017/18)
- 92% of young people aged 15-24 years reported their health as good, very good or excellent in 2020/21
- 88% of young people aged 15-24 were in employment, education or training in 2020/21
- 10% drop in offending rates across all young people aged 10-17 years; and 15% drop among Māori young people and 41% among Pacific young people compared to the previous year (2019/20).
The Government has released its first statutory Annual Report for the Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy and its third Child Poverty Related Indicators Report, which highlight the good progress made to lift children from poverty and the work still to do.
“Making New Zealand the best place in the world to be a child is a key priority for the Government, and despite a global pandemic, our plan and extra measures to support families have lifted tens of thousands of children from poverty and improved the lives of many others,” Prime Minister and Child Poverty Reduction Minister Jacinda Ardern said.
“There’s no silver bullet to fix the long-term disadvantages faced by many, but the range of measures contained in our plan are making a difference.
“Our Families Package and other measures like lifting the minimum wage and benefits, expanding free lunches in schools, making doctors’ visits free till the age of 14, and expanding primary mental health services are making a difference and there is clear evidence they are improving the lives of many children.
“The reports show the majority of children and young people continue to do well across most wellbeing measures, including fewer families running out of food and a 10 per cent reduction in youth offending.
“However we also see the effects of COVID-19, with more children reporting instances of psychological distress than before the pandemic.
“To address this, we’ve supported more children to access support through the expansion of the Mana Ake child mental wellbeing programme to five extra District Health Board areas, boosted funding to Youthline by $1 million, put more counsellors into 164 schools, and have delivered 350,000 free counselling sessions through our Access and Choice programme.
“We know we have more to do with disparities persisting for Māori, Pacific, rainbow and disabled children and young people.
“One of the things I’m particularly proud of is that despite COVID-19, we have lifted tens of thousands of children from poverty and are seeing downward trends across all nine measures of child poverty.
“Our plan to make New Zealand the best place in the world to be a child is making a difference to the lives of whole families, and we will remain focused on this priority throughout our COVID-19 economic rebuild,” Jacinda Ardern said.
Notes to editor – Please note the reports will be formally tabled in the House at 2pm and published shortly afterwards here.
Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy Annual Report
This report provides an assessment of the progress the Government is making towards achieving the six high-level and interconnected wellbeing outcomes for all children and young people in Aotearoa New Zealand.
- Children and young people are loved, safe and nurtured - this includes living in homes free from violence, having time with family and whānau and being safe and secure from harm and accidents.
- Children and young people have what they need - this includes income and resources, as well as other important aspects of material wellbeing such as access to nutritious food and quality housing.
- Children and young people are happy and healthy - this includes physical and mental health, spaces and opportunities to play and healthy environments.
- Children and young people are learning and developing - this includes education to build knowledge, skills and capabilities and encouragement to achieve their potential and navigate life's transitions.
- Children and young people are accepted, respected and connected - this includes feeling a sense of belonging, living free from racism and discrimination, having good relationships and being connected to identity.
- Children and young people are involved and empowered - this includes support to contribute, be listened to, care for others, make healthy choices and develop autonomy.
Child Poverty Related Indicators Report
This report focuses on New Zealand's child poverty trends and indicators up to and including the 2020/21 year. These trends and indicators are related to the broader causes and consequences of child poverty. Taken together, these indicators help tell a broader story about the lived experience of children living in poverty in New Zealand. Over time, they can also tell us more about the impact of policies established to reduce child poverty and mitigate its consequences. This is the third annual child poverty related indicators report.
Actions the Government has taken to improve child and youth wellbeing:
- Provided 49,000 devices to schools for their students, and connected over 40,000 families to the internet during lockdowns to support distance and blended learning
- Expanded the Ka Ora Ka Ako (Free and Healthy School lunches) to deliver 45 million lunches to 211,304 learners in 921 schools and kura (as of March 2022)
- Extended free and low cost doctors’ visits to children under 14, reaching 56,000 young people
- Expanding Mana Ake – a holistic mental health programme which supports primary and intermediate school children to be resilient, experience positive mental health, and continue engagement in learning – to five DHBs (Northland, Counties Manukau, Bay of Plenty, Lakes, West Coast)
- Delivered 8,350 additional public homes (over four years to June 2021) through Kāinga Ora and Community Housing Providers
- Provided $25m from the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund to strengthen mental health and wellbeing services for students enrolled in tertiary education institutions
- Engaged 800 whānau through Ngā Tini Whetū, a whānau-centred early intervention prototype designed to strengthen families and improve the safety and wellbeing of children
- Implemented the $50 million Urgent Response Fund to respond to learners’ wellbeing needs to support re-engagement and attendance
- Employed a physical activity workforce of over 100 Advisors and Community Connectors to support schools and kura and local communities with healthy eating and quality physical activity
- Expanded and enhanced School-based Health services to reach over 96,170 students across 300 schools
- Funded Counsellors in Schools, which has contracts in place with community-based providers to deliver counselling services in 164 schools
- Improved the quality of housing and conditions through the Healthy Homes Guarantee Act 2017 and set Healthy Homes Standards
- Providing funding through the Care in the Community welfare approach, as part of the COVID-19 response, to ensure community food services can continue to support households who need food parcels to safely self-isolate
- Increased family incomes for our lowest income families through the $5.5 billion Families Package, including increases to the Family Tax credit, Accommodation Supplement changes, Winter Energy Payment, and Best Start Payment