Our Government wants New Zealand to be the best place in the world to be a child, and we have a plan to make sure that’s a reality.
We’ve put the wellbeing of children and families at the heart of our work since taking office in 2017 – from putting healthy lunches in schools, to making everyday life more affordable for parents, and more.
Here are just some of the ways that we're supporting children and families:
Free, healthy lunches in schools
Kids learn better with a full stomach. That’s why we launched our lunches in school programme, which is providing free and healthy school lunches to thousands of children across the country so they can focus on what’s important - learning.
The programme has now ramped up to deliver a million free lunches to school kids every week.
Around 63 million healthy lunches have been served so far and they now reach 220,000 students across the country. It’s also saving families with two children at school, for example, around $62 a week and more than $2,000 a year.
It's clear this programme is reaching further than just a free lunch – it’s already created 2,300 jobs around New Zealand. We’ve also been told by teachers and principals that it’s helping our kids focus and learn, and it’s setting up the next generation with skills that will last them a lifetime.
Giving babies the best start in life
We’ve made sure that parents of young children have a little less to worry about.
On top of extending paid parental leave from 18 to 26 weeks, our Government introduced the Best Start tax – which provides $65 per week for families supporting a newborn.
We’ve also delivered the largest ever funding boost to primary maternity services, and we’ve started making improvements to child and maternity facilities, so more kids can get the best possible start in life.
Making going to school cheaper
Our Government has taken action to make it cheaper for families to send the kids to school, so every child can get the education that they deserve.
In addition to introducing free, healthy lunches in schools across the country, we’ve funded the removal of school donations as well as NCEA fees, to help families make ends meet.
We’ve also rolled out free period products in schools, to reduce barriers to education. The latest figures show that students at 2,085 primary, intermediate, kura and secondary schools are now benefitting from this initiative.
Helping families with the cost of living
To lift the wellbeing of children, we need to lift the wellbeing of families – and we are.
Thanks to the change we’ve made, 109,000 families with children are better off by around $175 per week, and our Families Package was the biggest boost to household income in a decade for thousands of families.
We’ve lifted benefit incomes across the board more than any other previous Government, and made the largest increases since the 1940s – lifting up to 33,000 more children out of poverty.
To support middle income families in the face of global inflation, we’ve taken a range of actions to ease cost of living pressures. We’ve introduced a cost of living package, which includes a short-term payment for about 2.1 million people. We’ve extended our fuel tax cut, reduced road user charges, and half price public transport.
We’re also taking further action to fix our supermarket sector and make sure Kiwi families are paying a fair price at the checkout.
Reducing child poverty
We’re working relentlessly to turn around New Zealand’s record on child poverty.
Our policies have seen around 66,500 children lifted out of poverty so far, and the latest figures show all nine child poverty measures continue to trend downwards.
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.
Keeping kids healthy
We’ve extended free doctors’ visits for more children, so that kids can get treated early – before small issues become big problems . This sits alongside our work to reform the health system so that all New Zealanders have access to world-class health care, no matter where they live.
Our Government has taken action to make sure that kids grow up in healthy homes. For example, our Warmer Kiwi Homes programme helps low-income households with the cost of installing heaters and insulation, and we’re ensuring rental properties meet minimum standards.
Our plan to make New Zealand the best place in the world to be a child is already making a real difference for families across the country. As we take the next steps, we will remain focused on lifting the wellbeing of all Kiwi kids.
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