Dylan is the deputy editor of the Bay of Plenty Times.

Editorial: Groups toiling to help our kids

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Dylan Thorne.
Dylan Thorne.

It's alarming that a national charity that supports children in need says it is struggling to keep up with demand.

The number of schools asking for support from KidsCan Charitable Trust has doubled in a month and 3773 kids are now on the waiting list. The Government-subsidised trust, which provides food, clothing, footwear and basic hygiene items to about 21,000 children each week, entered winter with a list of 14 schools asking to get on the books.

Since the start of June, that figure had jumped to 32 schools.

Founder and chief executive Julie Chapman says the growing demand for its services is a reflection of how tough things are for some families and schools attempting to provide that little bit extra for their students.

KidsCan is not the only group doing what it can to help needy children. At Fairhaven school in Te Puke, for example, parents are bringing in as many as 20 extra lunches each day to be given to children who arrive at school hungry.

The most recent Annual Child Poverty Monitor, run by the Children's Commissioner, the JR McKenzie Trust and Otago University, showed that 148,000 children, or 14 per cent of Kiwi kids, were going without the things they needed, while 305,000, or 29 per cent, were living in poverty.

About 9 per cent were at the hardest end of poverty.

So shocking are these statistics, that it's difficult to comprehend the challenges these children face before they even make it past the school gate.

I commend the work being carried out by charities such as KidsCan and it's pleasing to see a school community, such as Fairhaven, respond to a growing need but it's concerning that so many children are now living without the basics and below the poverty line.

This level of inequality cannot bode well for the future and it will likely cost the country vast sums in the future to address the associated impacts on health and social issues if more is not done to address the problem.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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