Wednesday 23 October 2013, 11:13AM
Media release from CPAG
Child Poverty Action Group spokesperson Associate Professor Mike
O'Brien says the children of beneficiaries are being singled out
for different treatment under the government's new welfare
A background study by CPAG on benefit sanctions finds children of
beneficiaries are now subject to a set of rules that other children
are not required to meet.
Download the full report here
Mike O'Brien says the changes risk creating a separate,
disadvantaged class of children whose activities are unjustly
restricted for reasons beyond their control.
One measure calls for children to be compulsorily enrolled into
Early Childhood Education from the age of three. Mike O'Brien
says this puts the needs of children second to the government's
focus of moving parents off benefits and into the workforce.
"So far the government has yet to establish the need for the new
rules and what they will achieve. Using the Official Information
Act CPAG found there was no evidence-based explanation or other
reasoning behind the requirement other than an assumption that
children of beneficiaries were likely to have lower rates of
enrolment in ECE.
"Through no fault of their own, vulnerable children have been given
a new set of rules to follow." O'Brien says it was once
considered important that a parent attend to young children
full-time as a benefit to society; that children's needs came first
and support for their growth and development was provided by
sessions at Playcentre and Kindergarten.
He says CPAG and other organisations worry the quality of services
available disadvantage parents on benefits. "High quality ECE
services in poorer areas are lacking and the concern is children
will end up in home based care or playgroup services that have
minimal contact with qualified teachers."
He argues early childhood educators are now accountable for the
compliance of parents in meeting compulsory attendance
requirements. "This undermines the relationships which should be of
high trust. Such high trust relationships are at the heart of the
EC curriculum Te Whariki, and of other ministry documents such as
Ka Hikitia, the Maori education strategy."
CPAG supports the call by the Children's Commissioner for
additional support for families to engage with their children's
learning and development in the home environment and acknowledges
the role of partnership between parents and teachers in high
quality, culturally responsive early childhood services in
modelling and supporting children's early education.
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