A retired judge says families need more financial support so that one parent can stay at home for the first three years of each child's life.
Graeme MacCormick, a Family Court judge for 16 years until 2005, has paid for full-page advertisements in the country's four main newspapers yesterday and this weekend asking people to sign a "children's plea" to MPs "to accord urgency and priority to all issues impacting the wellbeing of children".
Children's Commissioner Dr Russell Wills said the plea was well timed because the Government was focused on tackling child poverty in next year's Budget. "The stronger public support is to invest in our youngest and poorest children, the more support the Government will have to improve its investments."
Social Development Minister Anne Tolley confirmed that child poverty would be a focus of the 2015 Budget and said she had already attended three meetings chaired by Prime Minister John Key since the election on "children and hardship".
"That will involve more resources being targeted at a number of families," she said.
Mr MacCormick's "plea" has already been signed by 28 community leaders including broadcaster Judy Bailey, former Children's Commissioner Dr Ian Hassall, parenting gurus Ian and Mary Grant, Great Potentials Foundation founder Dame Lesley Max and child poverty activists Dr Nikki Turner and Dr Susan St John
In a background paper, Mr MacCormick acknowledges "considerable progress" on tailoring services to needy parents through the Government's Children's Action Plan and other measures.
But he says "no real progress" has been made on financial support for the 260,000 children in poverty - "more than five times a capacity crowd at Eden Park".
"It is respectfully suggested that all child-related welfare benefits need to be reviewed to ensure that economic assistance to enable a positive start for every child is not only adequate but equitable between children."
He warns against pressuring solo mothers into work because placing children in daycare too early could inhibit their attachment to primary caregivers, the basis for a secure and responsible personality.
Who is Graeme MacCormick?
1936: Born in Auckland.
1965-80: Partner at what is now Simpson Grierson.
1984-89: Proceedings commissioner and alternate chairman, Human Rights Commission.
1989-2005: Family Court judge.
2006: Organised forum that called for welfare needs assessments for all children at birth and regularly thereafter.
2007-12 (approx): Brainwave Trust presenter on the importance of early years.
Children: Little faith in being protected
A global survey has found that Kiwi children feel less confident than children in other developed countries that they will be protected from being hurt or mistreated.
The survey by the Child Fund charity of 6040 10-to-12-year-olds in 44 countries, including 614 in New Zealand, found that only 14 per cent of Kiwi children felt that NZ children were protected from being hurt or mistreated "all the time". A further 38 per cent felt they were protected "often", 30 per cent "sometimes", 12 per cent "rarely" and 1 per cent "never".
The Kiwi numbers confident of being protected all the time were only marginally above the average for developing countries (13 per cent).
Pupils at Henderson's Bruce McLaren Intermediate, one of 40 NZ schools in the survey, quoted media reports of horrific child abuse to explain why they could not say children were protected all the time.
Kiahan Simons-Tipau, 13, said: "You could go to a number of households, and I guarantee half in New Zealand will have discipline by hitting."
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