This afternoon the Green Paper on Vulnerable Children was released by Social Development Minister Paula Bennett. It is an information and consultation document.
Vulnerable children will have their needs best served when policies and practices across government sectors have common goals, are child-focused and are well aligned with one another. This could be achieved through developing an action plan with a focus on vulnerable children. Programmes and services for vulnerable children have traditionally been delivered by government departments and other agencies without necessarily being well co-ordinated across the sectors.
The Green Paper was developed by an independent expert appointed by the Minister for Social Development and Employment. The Ministries of Social Development, Education, Health and the Families Commission were all involved.
Two advisory groups provided input. One was led by Prof Peter Gluckman, and included Prof David Fergusson who was involved in NZ's only longitudinal study to date on the effect of participation in ECE on child development and Prof Stuart McNaughton who has an extensive background in research on learning and teaching and in particular on Maori children's educational achievement. The second was led by Murray Edridge of Barnardos and included the Children's Commissioner, Dame Lesley Max of Great Potentials, and Jenny Prince of Plunket.
The Green Paper provides some examples of good practice by professionals, services and communities.
It covers universal services which are those available to everyone, such as maternity care, Well Child/Tamariki Ora services, early childhood education, general practice, primary and secondary schools. The Green paper says that universal services can prevent children from becoming vulnerable and help to identify those who could benefit from more targeted or intensive services earlier.