We’re committed to making Aotearoa the best place in the world to be a child. Since coming into government, we’ve worked hard to lift children out of poverty and boost the incomes of Kiwi families. Now, as we secure our recovery from COVID-19, we’re continuing to put the wellbeing of children at the centre of everything we do.
Here are a few of the ways we’re supporting Kiwi kids:
Easing the pressure on Kiwi families
We’re helping whānau make ends meet and put food on the table. Thanks to changes made by our Government since 2017, 109,000 families with children will be, on average, $175 a week better off. Our Families Package was the biggest boost to household income in a decade for thousands of families, with the Winter Energy Payment providing extra support through the colder months. We’re lifting weekly benefit rates by between $32 and $55 per adult, which is expected to lift up to 33,000 more children out of poverty. And we’ve linked benefit rates to the average wage, to stop low-income families falling further behind. We’ve also lifted abatement thresholds, so working people on a benefit can keep more of what they earn.
Making going to school cheaper
We’re making it cheaper for families to send the kids to school, so every child can get a great education. We’ve introduced healthy, free lunches in schools, which will ensure more than 215,000 students across the country have the energy to learn. We’ve funded the removal of school donations and NCEA fees, and we’re rolling out free period products in schools – reducing barriers to education. We’ve also introduced learning support coordinators in schools to better support up to 300,000 children with diverse learning needs, and our expansion of Mana Ake will make in-school mental health support available to students across the country.
Giving babies a great start
We’re giving parents of young children a little less to worry about. We’ve extended paid parental leave from 18 to 26 weeks, and our Best Start tax credit – which provides $60 per week for families supporting a newborn – has now benefitted more than 100,000 infants. We also delivered the largest ever funding boost to primary maternity services, so more kids can get the best possible start in life.
Helping parents get back to work
We’re making it easier for parents to access support so they can get back into the workforce. We’ve reinstated the Training Incentive Allowance for higher-level study, which will enable more sole parents to start studying and ultimately, get into work. We’re indexing Childcare Assistance income thresholds to increases in the average wage, which will benefit around 1,000 families. And we’re funding more places in out of school care (OSCAR), to help low-income parents get to work or training.
Taking action on housing
We believe all New Zealanders should be able to live in a healthy home. We’ve lifted income caps on First Home Loans and Grants, making it easier for first home buyers to put down a deposit. Our Warmer Kiwi Homes programme helps low-income households with the cost of installing heaters and insulation. We’re also ensuring rental properties meet minimum standards for warmth and dryness.
Leaving a legacy
Over the past three years, we’ve worked hard to address New Zealand’s record on child poverty, and our policies have seen more than 40,000 children lifted out of poverty so far. We’re also making sure child wellbeing remains a priority for successive governments. We’ve passed legislation establishing targets for reducing child poverty and required child poverty reporting to be included in each year’s Budget, to guide policy in this area and drive engagement and investment – now, and in the future.
Healthy homes, healthy children and healthy hearts are the focus of a new policy designed to drive down our rates of rheumatic fever. If re-elected, we will:
- Expand the Healthy Homes initiative for housing basics like heaters, curtains, bedding and floor covering
- Strengthen healthy home compliance and enforcement efforts by Tenancy Services
- Introduce a national register to actively track and treat rheumatic fever patients
Find more detail on our Healthy Homes policy here.
Labour is already rolling out our plan to make New Zealand the best place in the world to be a child. That’s why we’re:
- Reducing child poverty and mitigating the impacts of poverty and socioeconomic disadvantage by expanding the Lunches in Schools programme to 200,000 children, which will create thousands of local jobs, help ease the pressure on parents, and ensure our children have the energy to learn
- Better supporting children and young people via Oranga Tamariki, and tackling family and sexual violence by increasing the support for 14,000 caregivers looking after more than 22,000 children. Plus we’re boosting support for agencies that make women, children, and everyone affected by violence safer in their homes
- Better supporting children and young people with higher needs, with an initial focus on learning support and mental wellbeing, by putting more than 600 new learning support coordinators in schools, to work alongside teachers and whānau and make sure young people receive the support they need. Plus we’re piloting mental health and wellbeing support in primary and intermediate schools through Mana Ake, as well as extending Nurses in Schools to decile five secondary schools
In addition to rolling out that plan, Labour will continue to reduce child poverty and mitigate its impacts by lifting household incomes and reducing the cost of living for Kiwi families. We’ll do this by supporting people into meaningful and sustainable work, making sure income support allows people to live with dignity, and addressing the housing shortage in New Zealand.
Labour will continue to improve outcomes for Māori within the Oranga Tamariki system by building strong relationships with whānau, hapū and iwi, and exploring options to place any child or young person of interest with wider family first (rather than into state care).
Labour will continue to inspire active, healthy and creative children and young people by rolling out our Healthy Active Learning programme, delivering our strategy for women and girls in sport, and putting 300 artists in schools through the Creatives in Schools programme.