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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Every Child Needs a "Big Brother"

From this morning's Christchurch Press.

"The Children's Commissioner wants the Government to test every New Zealand child four times during childhood as part of a radical plan to keep tabs on child welfare.

As part of the proposal, commissioner Cindy Kiro said she wanted children assessed at milestones in their life as part of an intervention system aimed at preventing children from falling through the cracks.

The initiative is based on a Scottish programme and would have children's health, education and social situation assessed at birth, when they start school, reach their teens and leave the education system.

The assessment would cover areas such as whether a child had been subject to abuse, was malnourished or falling behind in education.

Government departments would then have responsibility to intervene in the child's life and put programmes in place.

In Scotland, a central file on every child is kept, detailing significant achievements, problems, developments, events and changes in their lives. Several government agencies gather the information.

Kiro said that while her idea was wide-ranging and potentially expensive, radical measures were needed to ensure the well-being of tomorrow's children.

Kiro said she wanted "the Government and all political parties to support" the proposal, and she had started talking to organisations to gauge interest."


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