Labour's childcare policy starts at birth

Labour Party leader Phil Goff during the Labour Party Conference
Labour Party leader Phil Goff during the Labour Party Conference
Labour's new childcare policy starts at birth, when every newborn would be enrolled with a Well-Child provider.

The aim is to ensure babies at risk are identified early so that support can be provided to parents or caregivers as long as it is required.

Labour's deputy leader, Annette King, is driving the new policy and told the party's annual conference at the weekend there would be legislation enacted to set out long-term commitments to improve the health and wellbeing of children.

"There will be recognition that caring for young children in families is work, and is a valuable contribution," she said.

"Those taking time out to care should not be harshly penalised.

"Labour recognises that some parents need, or want, to work. We will be announcing significant policy enabling work and care choices for parents with children up to two years old."

Another proposal is access to parenting programmes for all New Zealand families.

More intensive programmes for families who need more assistance would also be available.

In the three-to-five-year age group, Labour would make sure every child had access to good quality, free early childhood education.

There would be attention paid to the needs of people in low income areas, and for Maori and Pacific children.

Early childhood centres would become community hubs for families.

"We believe there is a compelling case to ensure that New Zealand is the best place in the world to bring up all children," Ms King told the conference.

"The case is compelling because the reality for many children, their families and whanau, does not match the view we have of ourselves as Kiwis."

She said New Zealand was not doing well for children compared with other countries.

"We sit in the bottom third of OECD rankings for most child indicators," she said.

"Many of our children are left behind. Their early life experiences are harmful and ongoing and many Maori and Pacific children have poorer life chances than other children the same age."

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