Investing to protect our most vulnerable childrenSocial Development Budget 2014
The Government’s commitment to protecting children from abuse and neglect has been further strengthened with $33.2 million in operating funding in 2014/15.
“On average there are around 22,000 cases of abuse and neglect of New Zealand children each year,” Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says.
“More than 50 children have died in the past five years because of extreme abuse, and one child aged under two years is hospitalised every five days.
“During my Green Paper consultation, nearly 10,000 New Zealanders demanded action. Today’s Budget commitments will make a real and practical difference for our most vulnerable children.
“We now have a comprehensive Children’s Action Plan to address child abuse and make significant improvements at both government and community levels,” Mrs Bennett says.
Budget 2014 commits $16.4 million in 2014/15 to continue developing new ways of working together, implementing new services and ensuring greater monitoring of at-risk children and young people.
“Good progress is being made in implementing the Children’s Action Plan, with two children’s teams up and running in Rotorua and Whangarei. The new funding will see a further eight children’s teams rolled out over the next financial year.”
New funding of $3.2 million has been allocated for the implementation of the Vulnerable Children’s Bill in 2014/15. The Bill makes the heads of five government departments accountable for protecting and improving the lives of vulnerable children.
“The Ministries of Health, Education, Social Development, Justice and the Police will have new, legislated responsibilities.
“Do not underestimate the power of this,” Mrs Bennett says. “It will have a direct impact on every frontline worker in every one of those departments. Policies, practices and results will improve.
“As we build a new child protection system, the Government is also investing heavily in improving services and support for children in care, with new funding of $13.7 million in 2014/15 for Child, Youth and Family.
“There’s been a huge increase in demand on Child, Youth and Family resources, and new funding will address that, as well as provide more one-to-one therapeutic placements for young people with high needs, and greater support for caregivers.
“Taking an investment approach in welfare is paying real dividends in identifying where best to invest to make the most difference in peoples’ lives.
“We are putting millions of dollars into child protection and services for vulnerable children because we know serious abuse imposes enormous costs, both personal and financial.
“One per cent of children known to Child, Youth and Family – around 5,000 children – go on to cost New Zealand $550,000 each by their early 30s in corrections and welfare services.
“CYF’s extra funding will allow it to trial a new approach to understand what services work best for which children, to identify measureable outcomes, and to support modelling of the future costs of investing earlier to prevent the social and financial fallout of failing children in care.
“Today’s Budget investment in vulnerable children recognises the importance of doing more and doing it better for New Zealand’s most at-risk children,” Mrs Bennett says.