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Vital child poverty issue missed

The Expert Advisory Group (EAG) appointed by the Children’s Commissioner on ‘Solutions to Child Poverty’ has recently released an ‘Issues and Options Paper’ with 40 recommendations for tackling child poverty in New Zealand.

Most of the recommendations, including 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 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 Pacifica. But families are important to everyone, and this should 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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