The Child Poverty Action Group has released a new flagship report calling for a cross-party agreement on child poverty in New Zealand.
The report "Our Children, Our Choice", released today and with public events in Auckland and Wellington tonight, covers health, early childhood care and education, compulsory schooling, housing and household incomes.
Last year, according to the report, 260,000 or 24% of New Zealand's children were living under the relative poverty line used by the Ministry of Social Development.
It says that three out of five of those children will live in poverty for at least seven years and "the longer the period in poverty, the greater the harm".
The report's 47 recommendations include:
• Design a comprehensive plan to reduce child poverty that includes actions, targets, measurable outcomes and regular reporting requirements
• Make primary health care services free up to age 18
• Develop a national child nutrition strategy including a 'food in schools' programme
• Require all staff in centre-based, teacher-led early childcare services who are counted in the teacher:child ratio to be qualified, registered teachers
• Increase the ratios of adults to children for infants and toddlers in early childcare
• Abandon National Standards - as the reports says they appear to disadvantage poor children's learning and teaching in low-decile schools
• Provide free breakfast and lunch in decile 1-4 schools
• Reduce class sizes in all decile 1-4 primary schools (if necessary by proportionately increasing class sizes in decile 8-10 schools) and provide salary incentives to encourage the best teachers to teach in these schools
• A housing warrant of fitness for all rental properties within five years
• Provide adequate subsidies for landlords to insulate their houses
• Increase the minimum wage
• Act with urgency to gain cross-party support for an overhaul of all parts of the welfare and tax credit system that affect families with children
A full copy of the report can be viewed on the Child Poverty Action Group's website. The group will hold public events to discuss the report's recommendations in Auckland and Wellington tonight.