The Child and Youth Wellbeing Indicators (the Indicators) set out by the Strategy framework are intended to provide a high-level overview of whether wellbeing is improving for children and young people in New Zealand. They are not intended to replace or supersede other rich sources of information about child and youth wellbeing. Government agencies, local government, researchers and non-government organisations can use the Indicators to supplement the data and information they already collect.
To determine the best way to measure the outcomes, officials reviewed local and international research on measuring wellbeing, talked to a range of experts in child and youth wellbeing and in data and measurement, considered the nine guiding principles of the Strategy and the feedback received from the public consultation.
Research shows that people's impressions of their circumstances are usually most predictive of their future wellbeing, indicating:
- children and young people are often the best experts about their own wellbeing
- what is measured needs to reflect children and young people’s experience of the things they said were important to their wellbeing (i.e. asking them directly about things like feeling safe and the wellbeing of their family and whānau)
From this, officials identified a set of broad criteria to help narrow down the many existing measures of wellbeing to a set of 36 indicators. The criteria included a preference for indicators that are strengths-based, relevant and easily understood, applicable to all children and young people, and aligned with the other government indicators and measurement frameworks to enable consistency and coherency across Government.
The set of Indicators will collectively measure the outcomes in the most direct and simplest way possible. A detailed description of the Indicators and measures and sources can be found here: https://childyouthwellbeing.govt.nz/measuring-success/indicators.
The indicators and measures
The Child and Youth Wellbeing indicators were developed as quantitative metrics that provide information to monitor performance, measure achievement and determine accountability for each of the Strategy outcomes. To develop the indicators for each outcome, officials considered the following criteria:
- Validity: the indicator accurately measures at least one of the dimensions of the outcome
- Reliability: the indicator can be consistently measured over time
- Precision: the indicator can be described/explained in a specific way
- Measurable: the indicator can be measured with existing or newly created data
- Timely: the indicator provides a measurement during a period and at a frequency that is relevant to the legislation and objectives of the Strategy
- Programmatically important: the indictor is linked to the policy priorities as defined by the legislation and the Strategy.
Recognising that children and young people are the experts in their own wellbeing, we wanted to ensure that what they say is reflected in the indicators. This means what we measure also reflects the things children and young people told us were important to their wellbeing.
Each of the indicators has been operationally defined to provide a description by which they can be accurately measured. Most of them have only one measure. However, some indicators have several measures associated with them.
We have also included supplementary measures and information to complement and provide additional context to some indicators.
Measures and data sources
A number of government agencies have worked with the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to provide the data needed to measure progress across the six wellbeing outcomes. The data sources are diverse and robust; they comprise long term and newly established surveys as well as government databases. The following table provides more detail:
|Ministry of Social Development (MSD)||The Youth Health and Wellbeing Survey – WhatAboutMe?|
Household Labour Force Survey
General Social Survey
Household Economic Survey
Material Wellbeing Index
Official Child Poverty Measure
|Oranga Tamariki– Ministry for Children||Administrative Data|
|Ministry of Health||
New Zealand Health Survey
National Maternity Collection
|Health Quality and Safety Commission New Zealand||Child and Youth Mortality Review Committee data report|
|Ministry of Education||
School Attendance Collection
Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)
|Ministry of Justice||Administrative Data|
|Electoral Commission||Administrative Data|
Impact of COVID-19 on data collection and reporting
In addition to the unfolding impacts of the pandemic on child and youth wellbeing, the COVID-19 crisis has also delayed the collection of a significant amount of baseline data:
- On 20 March 2020, Government halted all face-to-face data collection until further notice as part of the response to the outbreak of COVID-19 in New Zealand.
- Many surveys, including the NZ Health Survey, were suspended for several months, including the critical time during COVID-19 Alert Levels 3 and 4, which means our understanding of wellbeing for this period will also be limited.
- The WhatAboutMe? survey was delayed until 2021. Data from this survey will be available later in 2021 and reported in subsequent annual reports.
These delays impact several data sources for the Strategy’s indicators, and baselines can only be taken for the indicators where there is data available. In particular, the outcome ‘Children and Young People are accepted, respected and connected’ has no baseline data available.
Given the limited baseline data available for the first report, we have included supplementary data to provide a snapshot of how children and young people are doing in certain areas. The supplementary data sources:
- provide alternative data where primary data is not yet available; or
- expand on disaggregated data from the primary data source, where available, to provide a richer level of information, or
- provide information about different age ranges or demographics; or
- provide information relevant to the indicator that is not captured in the specific measure.
The supplementary data sources we have drawn from include data from the Youth19 Child & Youth Wellbeing Strategy | Annual Report Rangatahi Smart Survey (Youth19) and longitudinal study Growing up in New Zealand (GUINZ).
How we are improving the gaps in data to measure children and young people’s wellbeing
To better understand the wellbeing of young people in New Zealand, the Government has provided funding for a nationwide Youth Health and Wellbeing Survey, WhatAboutMe? This is expected to be the largest survey of young people in a generation and will ask around 14,000 young people about their experience, health and wellbeing. The WhatAboutMe? survey is intended to be the main data source for approximately half of the Strategy's indicators, including most of the subjective wellbeing measures. However, because of COVID-19, data collection has been delayed until 2021. Data from this survey will be included in subsequent annual reports.
Work to develop the Strategy outcome indicators shows that whilst there is relevant data on some aspects of child wellbeing, we lack timely and relevant information in some crucial areas. These areas include:
- data on children’s development in the early years
- data grounded in a Te Ao Māori view
- data on the daily lives and subjective wellbeing of younger children
- data that enables NZ to be included in international comparisons
Over time, officials will work to address these gaps and improve the data collection on children and young people and reflect this in the indicators and measures. Options to address data gaps and quality issues could include extending and enhancing existing local surveys, adapting international surveys and/or developing a bespoke new study on child wellbeing in Aotearoa.