By Jane Silloway Smith - 30/08/2012

By Jane Silloway Smith -

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Solutions to child poverty

The Children’s Commissioner’s Expert Advisory Group (EAG) on Solutions to Child Poverty has this week released an issues and options paper filled with over 40 recommendations for tackling child poverty in New Zealand.

Most of the recommendations—like increasing the supply of social housing, providing free primary care for all children, and creating a new universal Child Payment for all children under the age of six—call on the Government to increase its spending and its involvement in children’s lives, especially in their early years.

While I accept that the Government has a role in play in tackling child poverty, the EAG has missed something big. Research increasingly indicates that strong and stable families may have the most potent role to play in decreasing the incidence of children living in poverty.

Where the EAG does mention the importance of families and the need for Government to respect and help families to be strong and stable for their children is in relation to Maori and Pasifica. But families are important to everyone, and this needs to be recognised.

After all, children exist as members of families, and the state of the family will determine the state of the child. For all children to do well, their families must do well. To tackle child poverty without strengthening and stabilising families is to fight an ultimately losing battle.

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By Jane Silloway Smith -

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