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Time to take real care of our kids

An Amnesty International report has once again criticised New Zealand’s track record on looking after our kids, Labour’s Children’s spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says.

The annual report, which looks at global human rights abuses highlights not only the fact that high numbers of New Zealand children continue to live in poverty but also raises concerns around the legal status of 17 year olds.

“Our ongoing failure to uphold the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Child is an issue not only for Amnesty, but for the United Nations – and for good reason.

“Under some of our current laws 17-year-olds are regarded as no longer being children, and no longer in need of care and protection.

"Under the Child Youth and Families Act that means a foster child can have support pulled from under them at the age of 17, even while they are still at school.

“The right for a child to be housed is one of the most basic of rights, yet currently they can find themselves on the streets from their 17th birthday, the youngest age of discharge from the statutory care system in the western world.

“NGOs who work with our most vulnerable, including the Dingwall Trust and LifeWise have all raised the issue with the Government. Leaving home can be difficult at the best of times, but these kids are being told to go ready or not.

“Add to this Amnesty’s concern around high child poverty levels, and the lack of a national action plan on family violence and we can see why children feature so heavily in their critique.

 “Social Development Minister Anne Tolley has received hundreds of postcards from Kiwis supporting the Dingwall Trust’s campaign to raise the age of ‘adulthood’ to at least 18, in line with other countries.

 “Ms Tolley cannot ignore those, or the latest plea of Amnesty International. The long-term costs are too high,” Jacinda Ardern said.