National MP Hekia Parata says Green Paper will put priority on children

National MP, Hekia Parata, is urging people in Mana to have their say on the way we value, nurture, and protect our children.

National is planning a new Green Paper to initiate a nationwide discussion on child welfare. It will cover a broad range of issues from health and education, to child abuse and neglect. It will outline possible solutions and seek public feedback on the best options.

“We are all responsible for the most vulnerable members of our community, so we should all get involved in this process,” Ms Parata says.

The Green Paper will focus on a range of issues including; information sharing between Government departments and agencies, tracking at-risk children, greater use of schools for after-hours activities, making it mandatory to report child abuse and the whanau-first policy, which means that children in state care are placed with extended family members in the first instance.

There will be extensive consultation from September 2011 to April 2012. From there, the Government will release a formal policy document including a Children’s Action Plan.

“National has done a number of things already to address child abuse. We have introduced multi-disciplinary teams for early intervention so doctors, social workers, and Police work better together,” Ms Parata says.

“We piloted a First Response programme, using non-governmental organisations to support at-risk families.

“We have invested $6.6 million into social workers in hospitals, $16 million into resources for teen parents, and provided extra support so foster parents can offer children a permanent home.

“There is still a huge amount of work to be done. The Green Paper is the beginning of a comprehensive, long-term approach putting the focus on vulnerable children.”