News and Updates

COVID-19 response and Budget 2020 reflect ongoing commitment to child and youth wellbeing

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Investment in Budget 2020 and early actions to respond to COVID-19 build on recent investments to reduce child poverty and improve wellbeing, through the Families Package and Budgets 2018 and 2019.

Since coming into office, the Government has implemented a number of policies and investments to reduce child poverty and improve child wellbeing in line with its overall vision of making New Zealand the best place in the world for children and young people. 

The Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy framework remains a critical lens for the Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  It sets out a shared understanding of what is important for child and youth wellbeing and government’s commitment to six high-level wellbeing outcomes for children and young people.  It also has a strong focus on achieving greater equity of outcomes.  That hasn’t changed. 

The impacts of COVID-19 are likely to hit those living in poverty and disadvantaged circumstances the hardest, so it’s critical that we continue to prioritise those in greatest need.

While it’s too early to know the longer-term impacts of COVID-19, we do know that continuing to invest in child and youth wellbeing will have significant long-term benefits for them and their families, our economy, and our broader society, long after COVID-19 has passed.

Below is an overview of recent investments that support child wellbeing and poverty reduction, including immediate actions taken to respond to COVID-19, as well as Budget 2020 initiatives, and those included in the dedicated COVID Relief and Recovery Fund (CRRF).

Investments that address child poverty

A good standard of material wellbeing

Access to nutritious food

Access to stable housing that is affordable, warm and dry

Parents or caregivers have the skills and support they need to access quality employment

  • implementing and then extending the employer Wage Subsidy Scheme to support businesses to retain staff during the COVID-19 response ($585.80 per week for full-time workers and $350.00 per week for part-time workers)
  • introducing the COVID-19 Leave Scheme Payment to support essential workers who need to take leave owing to the COVID-19 Public Health guidance same rates as wage subsidy).
  • improving and increasing funding for Out of School Care and Recreation Services (OSCAR) to allow parents to gain and maintain meaningful employment or undertake further education and training, while supporting children’s wellbeing and educational attainment ($9.6m over 4 years)
  • supporting Auckland Pacific people who have lost jobs due to COVID, or who are in low-skilled precarious work, to transition into quality employment, through a programme offering wrap-around support; delivery of micro-credentials and community capability building ($22.1m over 4 years)
  • introducing a Trades and Apprenticeships Training Package which provides opportunities to receive training, re-training and employment support, including specific programmes targeting young people, Māori and Pacific People ($1.6b)
  • creating almost 11,000 new jobs in regional NZ to restore our environment ($1.1b)

See the 2020 Child Poverty Budget report

Other investments designed to improve child and youth wellbeing and support families and whānau:

Supporting parents, caregivers and families

Addressing family and sexual violence

  • significant support to stabilise New Zealand’s family violence services, including support for services by Māori for Māori, those supporting victims of elder abuse, programmes for people who use violence and want to change their behaviour, and therapeutic services and treatment for children and young people exposed to family violence.($183 million over 4 years)
  • delivery of a multi-agency specialist response from Police, Health and Justice on a non-fatal strangulation initiative (19.9m over 4 years) 
  • expanding the Whanau Protect National Home Safety Service to keep children and their whanau safe through practical security improvements to their homes ($5.98m over 4 years)
  • Increased funding for Counties Manukau Whangaia Nga Pa Harakeke site, to support triaging of cases and enable the purchase of family violence services ($3.03m over 1 year)
  • creating a safe online and digital environment for children and young people, through a public awareness campaign that involves age-appropriate tips, information and resources ($1.5m over 1 year).

Improving the quality of education

Improving training and transition to employment

Supporting and empowering communities

Supporting and empowering Māori

  • funding to ensure that Whānau Ora can continue to provide timely and flexible support to whānau and communities who need it the most. ($136.087m over 3 years)
  • funding to help build partnerships with hapū and iwi organisations, to support community outreach and help deliver urgent support to whānau and to build capacity and capability ($11.2m over 2 years)
  • enabling iwi and Māori housing providers to deliver tailored housing outcomes for Māori in addition to the 8,000 extra homes funded in the Budget ($40m) 
  • targeted initiatives to improve educational outcomes for tamariki and rangatahi Māori, as outlined in the improving the quality of education section above.
  • specific training, re-training and employment support programmes targeting Māori (eg the Māori Apprenticeships Fund providing tailored support for Māori employers to take on Māori apprentices, and expansion of He Poutamu Rangatahi programme), as part of the Trades and Apprenticeships Training Package highlighted above

Advocacy for children and young people

What the longer-term response work will involve

The Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy will continue to drive cross-agency government policy, in a unified and holistic way, to achieve the long term objectives of reducing child poverty and improving child wellbeing.

The Strategy’s current Programme of Action is already focused on improving the wellbeing of children and young people with greatest needs.  This group is likely to experience the most-severe impacts of COVID-19, so our longer-term work programmes are now even more important – including the overhaul of the welfare system, implementing the Employment Strategy, improving access to affordable housing, and addressing inequities in health and educational outcomes.

The Programme of Action is, however, a living document and will continue to evolve in response to increased levels of need and emerging issues, as well as new opportunities to make transformative and lasting change to enduring social issues.

One of the silver linings of COVID-19 is that it's proven our ability to do things differently.  Nearly all of us have made changes to the way we live and work in order to protect those most vulnerable in our communities.   Government has moved quickly to implement a range of measures and supports, resulting in significant progress on longstanding issues like digital connectively and housing the homeless.  NGOs, iwi, and Māori and community groups have also stepped up and responded to the needs of their local communities. Innovation is flourishing at a local level, and there’s been increased and real collaboration, with partnerships and relationships built and strengthened.

We will continue to explore ways to build on these developments, and the innovative and creative solutions that have emerged, to help ensure New Zealand becomes the best place in the world for ALL children and young people.

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