More funding for children in care

  • Paula Bennett
Social Development and Employment Budget 2011

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett has announced $43.7 million for services for children in care as part of the Government’s focus on children.

“My heart sings when I think about the massive investment we are putting into some of our most vulnerable children,” says Ms Bennett.

“Our youth justice system and jails contain individuals who were abused and neglected as children, so putting resources into this vulnerable group is vital.”

“Historically a child in state care is 17 times more likely to end up in jail, costing taxpayers $90,000 a year, so let’s do all we can to avoid that.”

Children come into care because of abuse or neglect and often have a range of health and behavioural issues as a result, which haven’t been addressed.

The $43.7 million investment over four years goes into four distinct areas:

• Extra Gateway Health and Education Assessments $15.324 million
• Mental Health Services for Children in Care $14.513 million
• Early Childhood Education for Children in Care $11.467 million
• Parenting Support Services for Foster Carers $2.400 million

There are around 4400 children in care at any one time and others that are in a Home for Life who will be eligible for these initiatives.

“We know about 41% of children coming into State care have mental health issues and 65% have severe behavioural issues and up until now just 7% got specialist help, so that’s about to change,” says Ms Bennett.

Mental health services costing $14,300 per child will go to 1,775 children.

A recent study found 88% of children in care have unidentified health issues.

“We’re not just talking about a sore throat, but often complex health needs which must be addressed,” says Ms Bennett.

Around 4,200 children will get health assessments, costing $900 each.

All children in care aged between 18 months and three years will also get ECE places every year. The Ministry of Education’s free 20 hours ECE becomes available to all children when they turn three.

Parenting Support Services for foster and whanau carers will provide help for parents struggling with behaviour problems.

‘This Government’s spending $130 million on children in care in total, up from $74 million a decade ago.”

“This illustrates our focus on helping these young people who haven’t had the best start in life, but need every bit of help if we want them to succeed,” says Ms Bennett.