For the sake of the children

Long term welfare dependency isn’t good for the recipients, their dependants, taxpayers or society.

Nor is giving people money without expecting something in return.

For too long people have been able to claim benefits with no social obligations in return. That is about to change.

Incorporating important health and wellbeing goals into welfare reform will help ensure children get the best possible start in life says Social Development Minister Paula Bennett.

“Social obligations will ensure dependent children of beneficiaries access and benefit from vital education and health services,” says Mrs Bennett.

“These services are particularly important for vulnerable children as many currently miss out; we have an opportunity to address this through reforms.”

“These obligations are reasonable and achievable and they reflect the expectations most New Zealanders have of parents, this is a positive move for vulnerable families.”

Around 125,000 beneficiary parents support more than 220,000 children.

Social obligations require all beneficiary parents to ensure their children:

  • attend 15 hours a week Early Childhood Education (ECE) from age 3
  • attend school from age five or six
  • enrol with a General Practitioner
  • complete core WellChild/Tamariki Ora checks

This is not a punitive attack on parents, it’s a proactive move for the sake of children who are not receiving the care and services they need.

. . . “We are mindful there may be barriers like geographical location or capacity so parents will need to make reasonable steps to achieve these goals.”

Our intention is to work with and support parents to comply in the best interests of children and if they struggle to comply for any reason they could be referred to specific support services to get further help.

“But where barriers do not exist and parents don’t meet these obligations, graduated sanctions could apply,” says Mrs Bennett.

The graduated sanction process will see parents receive three reminder opportunities to comply before a maximum 50 per cent financial sanction applies.

“We have made it easy to re-comply, with plenty of opportunities and in the interests of the child, have capped the sanction at 50 percent.”

No-one will lose a benefit automatically, a lot of effort will go in to ensuring people do what is required of them for the sake of their children.

Parents may receive a higher level of case management support at any stage in the process if they are considered to be high risk, have complex needs or a level of vulnerability that requires additional support.

These social obligations will come into effect in July 2013 and cost around $1.4 million a year to administrate.

The first few years of life are important. Children who start school behind their peers are at a disadvantage which can dog them for the rest of their lives.

Critics of the policy ask why all parents aren’t to be faced with the same obligations.

It’s a fair question when at least some might be getting taxpayer support through in work tax credits.

But the policy is aimed at those who need it most because children of beneficiaries do worse than those of people in work even if they are on the same income.

15 Responses to For the sake of the children

  1. Andrei says:

    Right there writ large in the statistics contained within this post are the consequences of the depredations of our masters against the social structures that have developed over millennia to ensure that most children are well raised.

    Big Government is growing and longs to get its tentacles into every aspect of our lives and what better way to extend its power than to create a degraded and dependent people, no longer capable of looking after themselves and their own.

    And they continue on their merry way smashing the support structures that allow people to live independently of them.

    More rules, more bureaucrats and more dependency.



  2. homepaddock says:

    The welfare reforms are aiming to break the cycle of dependency.


  3. Viv K says:

    But is long term welfare dependency OK for big greenhouse gas emitters?
    The taxpayer gives them millions of dollars. Shouldn’t those companies have an obligation to reduce the impact of their business on the climate and oceans?
    As for the beneficiaries, I hope that Paula & her ministry will ensure that the families get help with busfares to get to & from early childcare centres.


  4. Andrei says:

    They wont succeed – they will only further embed it.

    This is a social catastrophe of our own making


  5. homepaddock says:

    There’s no comparison. Benefits are supposed to assist people in need. The ETS is the triumph of politics and bureaucracy over logic.


  6. homepaddock says:

    Expecting parents to care for their children is a social catastrophe?


  7. Andrei says:

    Expecting parents to care for their children is a social catastrophe?

    Parents? Bet ya in 99.99999% of all the cases that this will involve it is parent in the singular.

    Self inflicted cultural problem Ele

    The other day I was driving little T to school as I do and in conversation she mentioned that a school friend of one of my older daughters had just had a child – I knew this already as it happens, but in order to reinforce my antediluvian cultural norms upon her I expressed surprise.

    “I didn’t know she was married” I said

    “shes’s not, though she might get engaged” was her reply.

    “You are supposed to get engaged, then married and then have the baby” was my response.

    Now knowing more about this than I let on I also know that were this girl to cohabit, let lone marry the father of her child she would be worse off financially than she is today. In the long term no but in the here and now YES.

    Such is the perversity of our current “welfare system”. And the only way of breaking that is to make solo motherhood a mark of deep shame and embarrassment- not to semi celebrate it. Never happen though, the vested interests in Big Government find the underclasses too useful in growing their influence and power to allow this to occur and thus the proportion of children raised on benefits grows and grows as the children so raised in their turn produce their own and not having been inculcated from birth with anything but the notions of entitlement of support from the Government, know no better,

    My big girls are coming home for Christmas, the oldest, following our antediluvian customs to an extent, is bringing home “her man” to meet us all before embarking upon the next stage of her adult life. Which the Good Lord willing will involve raising lots of healthy children

    And there are those who might sniff at this old fashioned “patriarchal”(1) custom but you can count on it that no government apparatchik is ever going to have to tell the parents of my grandchildren that they need to enroll them at kindergaten or to register them with a GP,

    (1) patriarchal ways: The hideously old fashioned notion that there is a rhythm to life whereby a man who has obtained adulthood courts a woman who has done the same so that they may marry for life and raise their own children to carry on from them when they depart this mortal coil.


  8. Viv K says:

    And what about the transport costs of getting kids to early childcare education? Not all centres are walkable distances from people’s homes. Will parents get extra funding for that? The ‘go card’ bus card here in Dunedin can’t be used for other spending, Supplying beneficiaries with pre-loaded cards like that might work. You need to get the parent + child to the centre, then the parent back home, then the parent back to collect the child and the child & parent back home again. Who pays?
    I disagree re taxpayer funding for ETS. Yes it is a flawed system & thanks to National it won’t do what it was supposed to do. However an handout is a handout and these big polluters get millions of taxpayer dollars


  9. homepaddock says:

    Getting to and from kindy or playcentre will be an added cost for some though not every parent needs to go every day. Two other mothers and I used to take turns at taking our children to and from Playcentre.

    Every session won’t have to involve a double there and back for every parent either – at least sometimes they could do something else eg visit a near by library or go for a walk while their chidlren are in a session.

    This policy will require contact between WINZ and the parents, transport costs will be an issue to be dealt with then.


  10. homepaddock says:

    “Never happen though, the vested interests in Big Government find the underclasses too useful in growing their influence and power to allow this to occur and thus the proportion of children raised on benefits grows and grows as the children so raised in their turn produce their own and not having been inculcated from birth with anything but the notions of entitlement of support from the Government, know no better.” –

    The DPB was designed with good intentions. It has helped some, probably most, as it was intended to but has also had disastrous consequences for some of the recipients, their children and society.

    National has no interest in growing influence by increasing dependency which is why it is introducing policies which aim to get those who could be looking after themselves and their children to do so.


  11. Richard says:

    Andrei, I do not agree with your pessimism. However I admire your “patriarchal ways” except the matriarchal element seems to be missing? Is it your circumstance or is it that matriarchal influence too subtle for you to notice? Clearly your love for your children shines through.
    Be kind to your potential son-in-law at Christmas- and get him to ask his question of you early ——-


  12. Andrei says:

    The DPB was designed with good intentions

    “The road to hell …… ” as they say

    Ele, I have been around the block a few times and have seen and continue to see things that break my heart and I try when I can, and as I can to ameliorate them.

    With this, where the rubber meets the road, what is WINZ or CYFS actually going to do when encountering a child or children in a hopeless household with intransigent parent(s), full of excuses as to why they are not complying – make matters worse for that child by cutting the household income?

    Here is an old post of mine,/a> describing this very circumstance and my wife’s first and not last attempt to ameliorate this. Other people we knew and still know tried for years to help this child but the end was still tragic.

    I love to be able to wave a magic wand or for someone else to be able to.

    The answer does not lie in Parliament nor in politicians sound bites


  13. Andrei says:

    Richard – I used “patriarchal ways” in ironic fashion.

    My late mother was most clearly the Matriarch of our family, the strong foundation upon which the relationships that exist between my children, their cousins, uncles and aunts are built.


  14. Viv K says:

    Sharing transport with others may work for some. But 15 hours a week going for walks? And there is no library in South Dunedin.


  15. Richard says:

    Andre: I understand. Maori women, for example, have a treasured place and are protected because they provide life ( not distinguishing with other cultures who have very similar values). Matriarchal influence has always been there and strong and it gets stronger- good.


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