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Strategy

Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy

Issue date: 
Thursday, 29 August 2019
Publication category: 
Government strategy/plan

 

Foreword
Minister for Child Poverty Reduction

Many of us have often heard it said that 'New Zealand is a great place to raise a family' or even that it's the 'best place in the world'. But how often do we take the time to view this statement from a child's perspective? What would we need to do differently to have children themselves believe that this is the best place possible for them?

Our vision for the Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy is a bold one - that New Zealand be the best place in the world for children and young people. We engaged thousands of New Zealanders, who overwhelmingly supported the development of the Strategy, and urged us to place initial focus on children and young people with greater needs. Our intention is that this Strategy will coordinate and catalyse change and help provide the focus and momentum needed to achieve wellbeing for all our children and young people.

The Government has made a firm commitment to achieving the outcomes contained in this Strategy. Our recent Wellbeing Budget and current work across government is targeted at addressing child poverty, family violence, and inadequate housing, and improving early years, learning support and mental wellbeing for children, young people and their families and whānau. We are committed to continuing to build on this work as well as supporting the vital work of other sectors.

The Strategy is an exciting step forward. It sets out a shared understanding of what children and young people need and want in order to be well, what government is and should be doing to support them, and also how we must work together. The collective efforts of local government, iwi and Māori organisations, business, non-government organisations and the philanthropic sector are all necessary, as we simply cannot improve child and youth wellbeing on our own.

Ensuring we love, care and nurture all our children and young people throughout their lives is the most important task we have. This Strategy is our collective call to action.

A special thank you to the more than 6,000 children and young people whose ideas and feedback have helped shape this Strategy. It exists for you but it is also better because of you. Your voices remain with us as we take action.

Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern
Minister for Child Poverty Reduction

Foreword
Minister for Children

The way we treat children and young people, the way we look after their wellbeing, and ensure their lives are full of opportunity says so much about what kind of country we are.

This Strategy puts children at the centre, and will transform the way Ministers and agencies work together to improve the wellbeing of children and young people. It acknowledges that wellbeing is multi-faceted, and that we need to support children and young people where they live – within families, whānau and communities. And it places particular responsibility on children's agencies to develop an Oranga Tamariki Action Plan to achieve better results for those children and young people who are most at risk and in need of support.

The Strategy provides a framework to align the work of government and others. We know that the government is just one player, and that collectively we all play a role in the lives of children and young people - parents, families and whānau, iwi, community groups, business and local government.

We are committed to working with iwi, community and other groups to better support all the excellent work they continue to do for our children and young people, so that we can get better results for our kids.

Together we can make New Zealand the best place in the world for children and young people.

Hon Tracey Martin
Minister for Children

Section A: Introduction

The Opportunity

Whānau and Whakapapa are important. Knowing where you come from builds confidence.

The vision 'Making New Zealand the best place in the world for children and young people' sets a long-term aspirationthat every child and young person has a good life. Never before has there been a better opportunity to realise this aspiration.

This Strategy is the first step in achieving this vision. Because it is so important, it is being led from the highest levels of the Government - by the Prime Minister and the Minister for Children and their departments. Cabinet has agreed that the Strategy will provide an overarching framework for central government policy development,[1] in recognition of the importance of working together to align policy and services right from the start.

This Strategy is supported by a Current Programme of Action.

Parliamentary support

Sustained action is needed to get things right for children and young people. That's why the legislation underpinning this Strategy is so important. Changes to the Children's Act 2014, in late 2018, require that the Strategy is refreshed at least once every three years, following public consultation. This places an ongoing focus on children and young people and ensures the Strategy remains responsive to current and future issues.

In addition, the responsible Minister is required to report annually to Parliament on the progress of the Strategy's six outcomes. The outcomes can be measured over time to show progress and point the way forward. Together, these requirements create a strong foundation and an unprecedented level of political accountability for child and youth wellbeing. Parliament recognised this opportunity with near unanimous support for the legislation, indicating the likely commitment from future governments to continue the focus on improving children and young people's wellbeing.

New knowledge and insights

The science and economics behind the value of supporting children in their first few years of life has never been more compelling. More is known now, not just about how children are faring, but also about how brains are built. Positive or negative experiences very early in life affect the circuitry of the developing brain and the ability to develop the higher-level skills critical to future health and wellbeing. Positive early life experiences, support from responsive adults and early development of adaptive skills, all help build resilience.[2]

Early persistent hardship or toxic stress in a child's environment disrupts the developing brain's architecture. It is much harder to alter the circuitry of the brain later in childhood. It makes sense both developmentally and economically to get things right the first time.

Public engagement and support

Overall, there is widespread public support for the development of the Strategy. There are high hopes and expectations that something real and tangible will result from the Strategy. There is acceptance that achieving significant progress will take time given the complexity of issues and changes needed to systems. However, there is also a sense of urgency to provide practical relief to those most in need now.

The outcomes and priorities in this Strategy have been shaped and refined by the interests and aspirations of children and young people, and the adults who love and support them.[3]

Strong themes from the public consultation were that a good life for children and young people means being loved, happy, supported by their family and friends, and being connected to their whānau, communities, languages and cultures. Children and young people want to be accepted for who they are, listened to, and supported in their aspirations.

A good life also means an adequate standard of living - too many families are living in poverty or material hardship. Children and young people thought that New Zealand should be a place where everyone has fair opportunities and where the environment is cared for. They recognised that a quality education makes a big difference to their future and their ability to achieve their full potential.[4]

Success will mean addressing broader social inequities and determinants of health and wellbeing, including systemic racism and discrimination. The Strategy includes a clear focus on family and whānau wellbeing and particularly on reducing inequity of outcomes for different groups. The scale, magnitude and duration of action to improve wellbeing for children and young people needs ongoing commitment by government and all New Zealanders.

Public engagement will continue through implementation and the next phase of the Strategy's review and development. This will include work led by the Minister for Youth on a Youth Action Plan to ensure youth voices are heard and acted on across government - in particular, the voices of Māori and Pacific young people, disabled young people, rainbow youth, and rural young people.

Improving wellbeing for tamariki and rangatahi Māori

Te Tiriti o Waitangi (Treaty of Waitangi) will be a strong and empowering feature of the Strategy. New Zealand is the only place where tamariki and rangatahi Māori are tangata whenua and government must meet their needs. This means transforming systems, policies and services to work better for Māori, supporting Māori to deliver solutions for Māori and empowering local communities to make the changes that work best for them.

New ways of working

Making the best choices for current and future generations of New Zealand's children and young people involves new ways of working and balancing the social, environmental and economic implications of government decision-making, rather than having a singular focus on economic growth. The actions detailed in the Government's Current Programme of Action have been prioritised and aligned to the six outcomes in the Strategy.

These opportunities will only be fully realised when:

  • on average, children and young people in New Zealand experience higher wellbeing across all outcomes than those in similar countries
  • there is rapid improvement in the outcomes experienced by children and young people from the most disadvantaged circumstances
  • the distinctive and unique heritage, cultures and identities of New Zealanders are celebrated and built on
  • our national success is measured holistically, reflecting the importance of people, the environment, the strength of communities and national prosperity.

The Challenge

Take care of the earth so that it can take care of us.

While most New Zealand children and young people are doing well, the distressing reality is that many are not experiencing anything close to a good life.

National data and international comparisons provide some insights into the relative wellbeing of New Zealand children and young people. According to the UNICEF report cards for 2014 and 2017, children and young people in New Zealand often obtain higher-than-average competencies in education compared to other countries, but there is considerable scope for improvement in many other areas.

Improving the wellbeing of those who are missing out

Too many children and young people are facing significant, often ongoing, hardships and challenges in their lives.

  • Nearly a quarter of New Zealand's children and young people (up to 250,000) are growing up in households considered to be in poverty, when the cost of housing is taken into account.
  • It has been estimated that an even greater number of children and young people (nearly 300,000) experience or are exposed to family and sexual violence every year.
  • Around 6,400 children and young people require the care of the State due to family violence, being abused or neglected, or through youth offending.
  • Half of all lifetime cases of mental illness start by age 14 and the number of young people accessing specialist mental health and addiction services has more than doubled in recent years.
  • New Zealand has the highest suicide rate for young people aged 15 to 19 years when compared to other countries.
  • The 2017 UNICEF report card, which assessed 41 high income countries against nine of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals,[5] gave New Zealand an overall league table ranking of 34 out of 41. New Zealand ranked 38 for 'good health and wellbeing', but was in the bottom three for 'ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages';[6] and for the number of children living in a jobless household (one in seven).[7]

The concluding observations of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (2016) noted serious concerns in a range of areas including violence (including family violence, abuse and neglect); the high prevalence of poverty among children; disparities in access to education and health services for Māori and Pacific children and their families; and the disproportionate number of Māori and Pacific People in poverty and material hardship; and concerns about children in State care and the criminal justice system. Other issues that New Zealand fared poorly on included housing affordability and obesity.[8]

New Zealand will never be the best place in the world for children and young people if these challenges are not addressed. This is why the Strategy places a clear priority on those with the greatest needs. See page 60 for more details on prioritising the greatest needs.

Fragmentation of effort

Despite significant government investment in public policies, services and local initiatives, inequities for many children and young people have proven difficult to solve. Like other countries, a key problem is one of 'fragmentation of effort'.[9] At a public policy level there are too many policies that were developed and implemented in silos. Fragmentation and lack of coordination happens vertically (between national and local government), horizontally (between different agencies), by age (such as antenatal and postnatal, preschool, school age, tertiary), and by different groups or areas of focus (such as parenting support, family violence, job seeker).

This same fragmentation is replicated in government and non-governmental contracted services. Investment is often ad hoc, not sustained, and with little responsiveness to new evidence or cultural knowledge, including insights from service users (such as children, young people and their families). This, in turn, creates fragmentation of advocacy as different groups seek to solve different parts of the puzzle. Until now, there has been no unifying message or way of talking about child and youth wellbeing in New Zealand or way of aligning efforts to a common set of goals.

Aligning government actions with community action has the potential to create the transformative change required for the Strategy to achieve its vision.

Achieving transformation

When the Strategy is fully implemented, it will be transformative. Full implementation will take time and requires collective effort. This transformation will support Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and strengthen New Zealand's commitment to the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals, the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child, and other related international obligations.

The Strategy aims to remove barriers and support collaboration - from the Cabinet table to the kitchen table. It does this in three ways:

  1. It provides a common direction and requires accountability across government so that broader social, environmental and economic policies work better together to drive change and enable collective effort, including more locally-driven solutions.
  2. It places priority on addressing the significant inequities experienced by Māori children and young people and improving services and support for all those with greatest needs.
  3. By committing to achieving wellbeing for all children and young people, and regularly reporting on progress, it creates an environment where informal networks and the family and whānau closest to the child can demand change and accountability.

For further information on implementing the Strategy and mobilising to grow collective action, see pages 69-75.

New Zealand's children and young people

Being able to be me, without fear of being abandoned or disowned.

There are estimated to be 1.6 million New Zealanders under the age 25. This represents about 33 percent of our population.

New Zealand's population is rapidly ageing. In 2068, it is projected that there will be about the same number of children and young people as today, but the number of people over 65 years old will have doubled. The same number of children are being born each year (around 60,000) but people are living longer and having fewer children, creating new challenges for the way we look after each other.

At the same time as the population is ageing, the ethnic distribution of New Zealand is changing. Around a quarter of children (aged 0 to 14 years) identify with multiple ethnicities compared to only 3 percent of people over 65.

Around 70 percent of children and young people identify with one or more European ethnicities, making European the largest ethnic group in New Zealand. Around 23 percent of children and young people identify as Māori and 12 percent identify as Pacific Peoples (Samoan, Cook Island Maori, Tongan, Niuean, Fijian, Tokelauan, Tuvaluan, Kiribati, Tahitian and Other Pacific Peoples). Around 13 percent of children and young people identify with one or more Asian ethnicities (Chinese, Indian, Filipino, Korean, Japanese, Fijian Indian, Sri Lankan, Cambodian and 18 others including Other Asian), making it the third largest ethnic group in New Zealand. Almost one in four children and young people in Auckland identified with one or more Asian ethnicities.

Māori are a youthful population; the median age is 24 years (half are younger and half are older than this age) compared to a median age of 41 for the European population. Iwi affiliation is an important part of cultural identity for Māori. Most Māori are affiliated with one iwi, but around 38 percent are affiliated to multiple iwi. Around 18 percent of Māori children and young people have an unknown iwi affiliation.[10] Ngāpuhi is the largest iwi overall with 67,920 children and young people. Almost a quarter of Māori children and young people live in Auckland, and 14 percent live in the South Island. Gisborne has the highest proportion of Māori, with almost half of its total population identifying as Māori.

Pacific Peoples are also youthful with a median age of 22 years. The Pacific population comprises new migrants and multiple generations born in New Zealand, which presents an evolving, complex set of Pacific identities for its children and young people. There is an emerging collective Pacific identity in New Zealand as well as a resurgence of individual Pacific cultures. The wellbeing of Pacific Peoples is largely characterised by family, faith[11] and culture. Legacy continues to be an important feature of Pacific families, reinforced by the importance of a good education and continuing to serve and support the family. Addressing social challenges, including poverty, low incomes, low quality or overcrowded housing and their resulting health impacts, is critical to the wellbeing of Pacific Peoples.

New Zealand's population is also becoming increasingly diverse as people move here to live and raise their children. Auckland is one of the most diverse cities in the world. With a population of about 1.4 million, Auckland has more than 220 recorded ethnic groups, with more than 150 different languages spoken daily. Recent migrants and refugees who gave feedback on the Strategy said they want to feel their cultures are valued and embraced, and recognition that they bring strengths, knowledge and global connections to New Zealand.

New Zealand has a range of vibrant and diverse communities and cultures. While we lack recent data on children and young people with disabilities, the 2013 Disability Survey found an estimated 11 percent of those under 15 years old are disabled. The disability community encompasses a range of groups. For example, some people in the deaf community see themselves as part of a distinct culture with its own language, values, and traditions.

Some young New Zealanders identify as belonging to the LGBTQIA+[12] (or rainbow) community. In the Youth'12 national survey of secondary school students (Youth Survey 2012), 4 percent identified as being attracted to the same sex or both sexes, and 4 percent were not sure or were attracted to neither sex. About 1 percent of young people identified as transgender. The 2018 General Social Survey found 5.4 percent of young people aged 18-24 identify as bisexual and 0.8 percent identify as gay or lesbian.

The Strategy reflects the diversity of New Zealand's children and young people. The Strategy's principles and outcomes challenge communities to think positively about how they can best embrace diversity and engage with all children and young people.

Overview: The Framework

"Overview: The Framework" visually displays the framework of the Strategy on a page. This can be downloaded and printed on an A3 page to use as a tool for conversation (page 1). The content of this document is replicated in "Section B: The Framework".

Overview: Current Programme of Action

"Overview: Current Programme of Action" visually displays Government's focus areas and key actions for each outcome in the Strategy. This can be downloaded and printed on an A3 page to use as a tool for conversation (page 2). The content of this document is replicated in Section C: The Outcomes, under the subheadings "Government's focus areas and key actions".

Purpose of the Child & Youth Wellbeing Strategy

Money may not be the key to happiness but it is the key to living and I know many people who struggle.

The purpose of the Strategy is to:

  • Set out a framework to improve child and youth wellbeing that can be used by anyone: The framework provides a shared understanding of what children and young people want and need for good wellbeing. It sets out what we can all do to support them to have good lives.

    The framework is made up of a vision, six wellbeing outcomes, principles to guide the ongoing development and implementation of the Strategy, and indicators that measure whether we are making a difference. Anyone can adopt this framework. Some local authorities, iwi and community agencies are already interested in applying the framework to their planning and service delivery for children and young people.
     
  • Drive government policy in a unified and holistic way: The Strategy signals the nature and scale of changes needed in policy, funding, and service delivery for children and their families. To make progress, government agencies and their partners need to put the wellbeing of children and young people at the very centre of policy, service design and delivery, and provide seamless support. Aligning effort and investment will make the greatest impact.
     
  • Outline the policies the Government intends to implement: The policies and actions outlined in the Strategy and Current Programme of Action are based on the evidence about what works, where the urgent needs are, and getting started on longer-term changes.

    Through this Strategy, Government has prioritised policies and actions to:
    • reduce child poverty and mitigate the impacts of poverty and socio-economic disadvantage
    • better support children and young people of interest to Oranga Tamariki and address family and sexual violence
    • better support children and young people with greater needs, with an initial focus on learning support and mental wellbeing.

    Further work planned includes improving our system of support for children, families and whānau in the first 1000 days and in the early years of a child's life, addressing racism and discrimination and extending whānau-centred approaches to improve child and youth wellbeing.
     
  • Harness public support and community action: Families, whānau, iwi, hapū, local communities and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) all have important roles to play in improving wellbeing. This is explained in detail on pages 69-75. The government will work with others to apply the Strategy for their communities.
     
  • Increase political and public sector accountability for improving wellbeing: Greater accountability to children and young people will be achieved by committing to the Strategy's outcomes, aligning efforts and roles, and measuring progress. The Strategy commits to addressing systemic issues that have typically been considered too hard or too big to address.

    Parliament passed legislation in late 2018 requiring successive Governments to reduce child poverty and to adopt a strategy to address:
    • improving the wellbeing of all children
    • improving, as a particular focus, the wellbeing of children with greater needs
    • reducing child poverty and mitigating impacts of child poverty and of socio-economic disadvantage experienced by children
    • improving the wellbeing of the core populations of interest to Oranga Tamariki-Ministry for Children (under the Children's Act 2014).

    Adopting and publishing the first Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy is a first step in meeting these legal requirements. See page 67 for more information on government accountability and reporting.
  • Improve wellbeing outcomes for Māori children and young people: The Strategy will only be successfully implemented when outcomes for Māori children and young people improve significantly in every area. The Strategy's reporting requirements include reporting specifically on outcomes for Māori children.

    The Treaty of Waitangi is at the heart of the Strategy. One of the Strategy's guiding principles reflects Māori interests, as tangata whenua, and recognises the Māori-Crown relationship is foundational. Government agencies will need to demonstrate an understanding of Māori needs and aspirations, co-design solutions with Māori where possible, support self-determination in the approach to improving wellbeing, and respond in ways that enable Māori children and young people to have the same opportunities as others to reach their full potential.

How the Strategy was developed

We need a place where we can fit in by being ourselves.

With the help of over 10,000 New Zealanders, including 6,000 children and young people, the Government has prepared this national strategy to improve the wellbeing of all children and young people under the age of 25. Their wellbeing today, tomorrow and in the coming years matters to all of us.

The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet has led the development of the Strategy in collaboration with other agencies. A Child Wellbeing Unit was established to lead the Strategy's development and a Child Poverty Unit was established to coordinate the Government's approach to reducing child poverty. These units worked alongside more than 11 government agencies to develop the Strategy.

The development of the Strategy drew together thinking from wellbeing models and frameworks, public engagement and the best evidence from social science.

Wellbeing models and frameworks

To develop the draft framework for the Strategy and to help determine where government should focus its efforts, the following models and frameworks relevant to child and youth wellbeing were considered:

  • Children's Wellbeing Model - Developed by Oranga Tamariki, this child-centric analytical tool is used to better understand the current wellbeing outcomes of children and what changes throughout their lives. The tool analyses available data on all New Zealand children from the Integrated Data Infrastructure.
  • Whānau Ora Outcomes Framework - Developed by the Taskforce on Whānau-Centred Initiatives, this framework highlights the importance of participation in society, economic security, whānau cohesion and resilience, responsiveness to living and natural environments, healthy lifestyles, confident participation in te ao Māori, and self-managing and empowered leaders.
  • Mana Mokopuna Model - Developed by the Office of the Children's Commissioner to help assess the quality of services provided to children and young people in State care, this model has six Māori principles through which we can learn about a child or young person's experiences: Whakapapa, Whanaungatanga, Aroha, Kaitiakitanga, Rangatiratanga and Mātauranga.
  • Te Whare Tapa Whā - Developed by Sir Mason Durie this model of wellbeing is applied extensively in education, health and public health contexts. This model identifies four cornerstones (or sides) of Māori health: Taha tinana (physical health, Taha wairua (spiritual health), Taha whānau (family health) and Taha hinengaro (mental health).
  • Living Standards Framework - This framework, developed by the Treasury, focuses on multiple 'capitals' for future wellbeing - natural, financial/physical, human and social - and 12 domains for current wellbeing. It is based on the OECD Better Life Index.
  • Pacific frameworks and models[13] - These models and frameworks represent the extended family as the foundation and are strengths based in approach, informed by the cultural values and beliefs of families and their communities of identity.

The insights and thinking from these frameworks helped inform the development of the Strategy's principles, outcomes and their descriptors. They are also well aligned with the aims and principles of the Agenda for Children and Youth Development Strategy Aotearoa, both developed by government in 2002.

Social science and research

As background to the Strategy, a summary of evidence from research about child and youth wellbeing was prepared by some of government's science advisors and has informed the Strategy. The summary includes these key messages:

  • The importance of the early years (from conception to school) is critical to later development. Exposure to toxins must be avoided during pregnancy, and parental wellbeing and positive, loving relationships between parents and children provide a strong foundation for learning and development.
  • Adolescence is a time of significant transformation and development. Positive influences, which include caring and stable relationships with adults and a strong sense of identity, are critical to improve wellbeing and to avoid poor outcomes for young people.
  • Poverty, particularly when persistent and severe, can have a cumulative effect on existing stressors, including experiences of racism and discrimination. Living in a high-stress environment can be overwhelming for families.

Consultation and engagement with New Zealanders

The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet in partnership with other government agencies led extensive public engagement between October and December 2018 to test the draft outcomes and focus areas and seek input into the development of the Strategy. The engagement process included multiple meetings, focus groups, child and adult surveys, postcards to the Prime Minister and written submissions.

Input included people sharing their values, personal experiences, stories, and research, analysis, relevant material, and/or comments on child and youth wellbeing. A summary of what New Zealanders said is included under each outcome. A full report summarising input received during this engagement is available, along with specific reports from the engagement with children and young people, and with iwi and Māori groups. [See Engagement Reports]. Findings from recent consultation processes such as the education conversation and the Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction have also been taken into account.

Reference Groups

A reference group of experts working in the field of child and youth wellbeing supported the development of the Strategy by challenging thinking and providing advice throughout the year. Members included iwi and community development leaders and specialists in the education, child health, justice and social sectors. Other government and children's focussed agencies were also consulted. Further sector engagement and reference groups acted as sounding boards to test thinking as the Strategy was developed.

 

Section B: The Framework

The Child & Youth Wellbeing Strategy Framework

The child and youth wellbeing framework set out in this Strategy includes a vision, guiding principles and a set of six wellbeing outcomes. The framework can be used by anyone. Aligning planning and activity with this framework will support collective action to improve child and youth wellbeing.

The framework has been tested, refined and endorsed through a process of public and cross government engagement. The vision and outcomes provide a shared understanding of what good wellbeing looks like for children and young people in New Zealand. The principles guide how we will achieve these outcomes and a set of indicators identify how to measure the outcomes.

The Vision

New Zealand is the best place in the world for children and young people.

The essence

Whakatōngia te kākano aroha i roto i ā tātou taitamariki kia puāwai i roto i tō rātou tupuranga aranui oranga.

Plant the seed of love in our children and they will blossom, grow and journey towards the greatest pathway of life.

This vision is aspirational. New Zealand has a long way to go to achieve it for all children and young people. Collective action is needed to support each child and young person in the here and now, as well as ensuring they have the best environment to grow, develop and live a good life. Achieving the vision also means supporting the wellbeing of parents, caregivers, families and whānau so that their children and young people thrive. The majority of people who engaged on the Strategy thought it was a good and ambitious vision.

Guiding Principles

Consider us - the future leaders, workers and contributors to society - in your decisions.

Nine principles have been developed to guide the development and ongoing implementation of the Strategy. They reflect the values New Zealanders have said are most important, the requirements of the Children's Act 2014, New Zealand's constitutional arrangements and international commitments.

The principles promote wellbeing and equity for all children and young people. They outline the importance of working together for real impact, and of developing strong relationships with tangata whenua and children and young people.

The principles are:

Children and young people are taonga

This principle recognises and respects the intrinsic value, inherent dignity and mana of children and young people. This principle means placing priority on children and young people's wellbeing every day and making sure their views inform solutions.

Māori are tangata whenua and the Māori-Crown Relationship is foundational

Recognising and giving practical effect to a commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi (Treaty of Waitangi) is essential to help achieve wellbeing for Māori children and young people, including through active partnerships between government and Māori. The Strategy recognises the objectives of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which is a declaratory statement about human rights for indigenous peoples as individuals and as collectives.

Children and young people's rights need to be respected and upheld

This principle commits to respecting and upholding children's rights in New Zealand, including the rights derived from the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCROC)[14] and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

These rights place responsibilities on governments to set up the broad conditions that support child and youth wellbeing. They also identify that parents and caregivers have responsibilities to make sure their children can access and understand their rights. The rights identified by the conventions apply to all children and young people irrespective of their needs.

All children and young people deserve to live a good life

The Strategy recognises that all children and young people should experience good wellbeing, regardless of their circumstances. It also recognises that to achieve greater equity of outcomes, some children and young people need more support. The Government has signalled in this Strategy that it will take a proportionate universalism approach to achieving equity for all children and young people. That means access to quality, non-stigmatising, culturally-appropriate universal services, supplemented with further support as needed.

Applying this principle will mean every child and young person has the support they need to participate fully in society and to reach their potential.

Wellbeing needs holistic and comprehensive approaches

Wellbeing is multidimensional[15]. The broad framing of wellbeing used in this Strategy includes concepts of hinengaro (mental), tinana (physical), wairua (spiritual), whānau (family), papa kainga (community), and taiao (environmental) wellbeing. People who apply this principle will consider the whole person - lifestyle, relationships, whakapapa, whānau and communities, culture, the environment they live in and access to resources.

Children and young people's wellbeing is interwoven with family and whānau wellbeing

Children should be viewed in the context of their families and whānau, hapū and iwi and other family groups and communities. This principle recognises that parents, caregivers, families and whānau need to have the right kind of support at the right time in order to provide a nurturing environment for their children. It reflects the requirement of the Children's Act 2014 that the Strategy consider children within the context of their whānau.

Change requires action by all of us

Individuals, organisations, iwi and hapū, communities and government need to work together and be collectively responsible for achieving good wellbeing for all children and young people. Recognising that the best solutions are often locally designed and delivered, government needs to enable more community-led design and delivery.

Actions must deliver better life outcomes

The Strategy and its implementation will be informed by the best available evidence of effectiveness and by continuing to growing our knowledge base of what works for whom and in what settings in New Zealand. This includes data, and qualitative research and evaluations of initiatives, including the feedback and voices of children and young people and their families and whānau.

Early support is needed

The best outcomes occur when there is quality early support - early in the life of the child or early in the life of the problem. Adverse experiences early in a child's life can magnify and accumulate beyond childhood and adolescence, with life-long negative impacts. Policies arising from the Strategy will increasingly focus on early support and preventing or minimising negative outcomes for children, young people, and their families and whānau.

A child or young person's brain biology and behaviours have higher adaptive capacity during pregnancy through the first five years of life, and in adolescence. Strategies to strengthen wellbeing should be designed to address these two major opportunities. Prevention is the best approach..

Outcomes for child & youth wellbeing

Six high-level outcomes for child and youth wellbeing are set out in this Strategy. These outcomes have been adopted by the Government as required by Part 1 of the Children's Act 2014. The outcomes are interconnected and reflect the social and broader economic and environmental factors needed to improve the overall wellbeing of children and young people. Each outcome and why it is important is described in more detail in Section C.

The six outcomes are:

  • Children and young people are loved, safe and nurtured - this includes loving homes that are free from violence, having time with family and whānau and being safe from avoidable harm and accidents
  • Children and young people have what they need - this includes income and resources, as well as other important aspects of material wellbeing such as nutritious food and quality housing
  • Children and young people are happy and healthy - this includes physical and mental health, spaces and opportunities to play and healthy environments
  • Children and young people are learning and developing - this includes education to build knowledge, skills and capabilities and encouragement to achieve potential and navigate life's transitions
  • Children and young people are accepted, respected and connected - this includes feeling a sense of belonging, living free from racism and discrimination, having good relationships and being connected to identity
  • Children and young people are involved and empowered - this includes support to contribute, be listened to, care for others, make healthy choices and develop autonomy.

How we measure & report on progress

How will we know we have made a difference?

The Children's Act 2014[16] requires the Strategy to indicate the extent to which the outcomes included in the Strategy are measurable and how they will be measured. It also requires the responsible Minister to prepare an annual report to Parliament on achievement of the outcomes. The first report is due in early 2021. All of the outcomes in the Strategy are measurable. Further information about measuring and reporting on progress is included in Section E.

Child and Youth Wellbeing Indicators

The annual report to Parliament will include data on a small set of key indicators for each outcome, including analysis by household income or socio-economic status,[17] ethnicity and other key demographic variables, wherever data is available. More detailed information on the Child and Youth Wellbeing Indicators will be published later this year.

The indicators for each outcome are set out in the table below.

Child Poverty Reduction Act 2018

There are specific reporting requirements on child poverty reduction. The Child Poverty Reduction Act 2018 requires the Government to set long-term (10-year) and intermediate (3-year) targets on a set of child poverty measures against which the Government must report annually. The Minister for Child Poverty Reduction must identify and report on one or more indicators related to the causes, correlates, and/or consequences of child poverty. The Minister for Child Poverty Reduction has identified that a subset of the Child and Youth Wellbeing Indicators will be used as the first set of Child Poverty Related Indicators. These are: housing quality, housing affordability, food insecurity, regular school attendance, and preventable admissions to hospital.

 

Section C: The Outcomes

Children and young people are loved, safe and nurtured

This means:

  • they feel loved and supported
  • they have family, whānau and homes that are loving, safe and nurturing
  • they are safe from unintentional harm
  • they are safe from intentional harm (including neglect, and emotional, physical and sexual abuse)
  • they are able to spend quality time with their parents, family and whānau.

Why is this important?

The best place for a child is in the safe, loving and stable care of their families, whānau, hapū, iwi or other family group. A stable and quality home environment with love and trust influences a child and young person's wellbeing every day, and their ability to form attachments to others. Parental mental health is important during pregnancy and in a child's early years so that parents can establish loving connections during the critical times of babies' development before and right after birth.

Stable, nurturing relationships are critical to many other aspects of wellbeing and to build resilience and social skills. Parents and families need quality time and the right headspace to develop strong connections with their children. Parents have asked for more support so they can parent as best they can.

Some children and young people live in families with toxic stress and complex needs, such as the combined impacts of long-term unemployment, low income, unaddressed physical and mental health needs, parental alcohol and drug addiction, and family violence.[18] These families need support to reduce their stress burden so they can care for their children and young people.

Children and young people in State care (about 6,400) also need loving, caring and nurturing homes, with strong and stable bonds, but they often experience poor outcomes. Reasons may include early exposure to violence, repeat abuse and victimisation or high levels of instability of home placements. Improvements are being made across the care and protection system so it can provide the right care environment for children and young people.

Children and young people need to feel safe at home, school and in public. Safety includes physical safety as well as being safe to express themselves without fear of judgement, rejection or harassment.

Children and young people can feel the effects of trauma experienced in childhood for the rest of their lives. It's important we recognise this and do everything we can to stop children and young people being abused, neglected, witnessing violence, experiencing stress from family disputes or suffering unintentional harm. If harm does occur, it's important to provide children and young people with early, high quality support. New Zealand's rates of reported family violence and sexual violence are among the highest in the developed world. Without adequate support, children and young people caught up in stress and violence can have poorer outcomes in education and employment, and can have problems with mental health and addiction. This impacts their lives and the people around them.

A child needs to grow up feeling loved and wanted. This increases their chances of growing up to be healthy physically and mentally. A strong tree grows in good soil. With the right foundation we can all have brighter days.

What did New Zealanders say about this outcome?

  • Children and young people talked about how everyone needs love and support. They wrote about the importance of having support when they need it and called for better help for those who are struggling. They mentioned the role of their family, friends and other support networks.
  • Children and young people need safe homes, schools and communities. Safety was often mentioned in the context of protection from harm, victimisation and bullying or abuse.
  • Having loving, supportive parents, family and whānau is one of the most important things that children and young people need to have good lives. Family and whānau are critical for support, education, money, homes, employment and love.
  • Children and young people want more quality time with their whānau, when they are young and as they grow older. Time with their whānau helps young people to be confident in who they are, especially in terms of their culture. They want to live with their whānau and not be separated from them (particularly children and young people in contact with Oranga Tamariki).
  • Māori said that whānau are essential for children and young people to feel loved, safe and nurtured. Children and young people must be placed within the context of their whānau, and government must adopt a whānau-centred approach, such as Whānau Ora.
  • People talked about the wider societal impacts on whānau, such as a loss of value and support for parents and parenting skills, and the struggle for those working to find quality time for their whānau. In addition, barriers to people being loved and safe were identified, such as drugs and alcohol, the cycle of family violence, and housing-related stress.

Government's focus areas and key actions

The Government's priority for this outcome is to help ensure children and young people at greatest risk - those experiencing abuse or neglect, or those exposed to family or sexual violence - are loved, safe and nurtured. Actions are grouped in the following focus areas.

  • Support parents, caregivers, families and whānau. Government isextending paid parental leave, expanding Whānau Ora, and launching a nurse-led family partnership prototype. It is developing new models of intensive intervention and early intervention to prevent children and young people entering State care.
  • Prevent harm and abuse. A national strategy and action plan to eliminate family violence and sexual violence is being developed by the Government in partnership with the sector, Māori and other stakeholders. Government has committed funding to a range of initiatives focused on preventing and mitigating harm to specific communities. A cross-agency work programme for the prevention of online child sexual exploitation and abuse is also being developed.
  • Support victims and their families and whānau. There are a range of initiatives to improve access to services and the quality of support for victims and their families and whānau, including services designed for children and youth, and kaupapa Māori services.
  • Improve the quality of State care. Oranga Tamariki has received funding to improve the quality of care and support for children and young people in State care, and their caregivers, and to improve outcomes for Māori in its services. Development of an Oranga Tamariki Action Plan will set out how agencies will work collectively to achieve wellbeing outcomes for children and young people of interest to Oranga Tamariki.

For more detail about the Government's actions under this outcome refer to the Current Programme of Actions for Child and Youth Wellbeing.

Supporting the Early Years System

Helping families and whānau to nurture their children's brain development and build readiness for life-long learning is the Supporting the Early Years Systems (SEYS) initiative led by The Southern Initiative and invested in by the NEXT Foundation. It is unique in that it combines the latest in neuroscience and child development research, comprehensive population data, the lived experiences of local parents and indigenous knowledge to inform policy, funding decisions, build the capability of partners and ultimately deliver services that create resilience and reduce stress. Partnering with the Social Investment Agency in 2018 has created the opportunity to bring together the experience and expertise of whānau and families, frontline workers and data and science in a way that can help influence future policy and investment decisions.

Children and young people have what they need

This means:

  • they and their parents/caregivers have a good standard of material wellbeing
  • they have regular access to nutritious food
  • they live in stable housing that is affordable, warm and dry
  • their parents/caregivers have the skills and support they need to access quality employment.

Why is this important?

All children and young people deserve to grow up in families and whānau that have the resources they need for everyone to thrive.

Too many families and whānau lack the resources to meet their basic material needs, and are excluded from a minimum acceptable standard of living. On the primary measures in the Child Poverty Reduction Act 2018, between 150,000 and 250,000 children and young people are living in poverty.[19] Poverty can involve various forms of hardship, such as going hungry, living in cold, damp houses, and missing out on important opportunities like school outings and sports activities.

Children and young people depend on the resources of their parents, caregivers, family, whānau and wider community to meet their basic material needs. Income support and employment are two key factors to ensure incomes are adequate. Child poverty rates are significantly higher when there is no parent in paid work. This demonstrates the importance of parents developing the skills and other support they need to gain and stay in employment. The availability of quality jobs that are adequately paid and recognise family responsibilities is critical - currently, two in five children in poverty live in a household with a working parent.[20]

Housing conditions can have a significant impact on children and young people's wellbeing. There is strong evidence on the disruptive impact of frequently moving house, and on the negative health consequences of living in crowded conditions and in poor quality housing.[21] When housing costs are high, there is less money to cover food, clothing, transport, education, health care and other needs.

Many families in New Zealand struggle to provide enough food for their children and young people. Around one in five children in New Zealand live in households that report a lack of money means that food runs out at least sometimes, with around 40,000 children reporting it runs out often.[22] Evidence shows that food insecurity and inadequate nutrition impact negatively on children's health, development, learning, and general wellbeing.[23]

Earlier support for young parents so that they may provide a positive and better life for their children - I reckon that if my dad had that support earlier we would've been living much better earlier.

What did New Zealanders say about this outcome?

  • Having enough money for essentials (like food, clothing, household costs and housing) is one of the most important things for wellbeing. People most commonly identified poverty, financial hardship and the high cost of living as barriers to wellbeing.
  • People in financial hardship talked about their experiences. These included being under a lot of stress about not having enough money for food, bills, transport, petrol, healthcare, sanitary products and living in overcrowded housing. Some young people told us about being homeless, or how not having enough money can lead them to commit crime. They also talked about missing out on opportunities because they didn't have the money to pay for them.
  • People called living in poverty being in “survival mode”. When people struggle just to get by, it makes it harder to address deeper or longer-term issues.
  • Māori spoke of the importance and urgency of government ensuring people have what they need in terms of warmth, food and shelter. Equity of access to resources was an important consideration for Māori.
  • Accessing quality and affordable housing is difficult and a key problem, with emergency and social housing being in short supply. Housing initiatives by central and local government were seen as failing to reach those most in need.
  • Access to quality and affordable food was commonly raised as an issue. Healthy food is too expensive and unhealthy food is too cheap and easily available.

Government's focus and key actions

The Government's focus for this outcome is on reducing child poverty by improving the material wellbeing of households living in poverty and hardship. This focus has the potential to break the cycle of disadvantage and intergenerational poverty as well as affect many other wellbeing outcomes. Parliament passed the Child Poverty Reduction Act 2018 which requires the government of the day to set targets on a set of child poverty measures and to report against these. Actions are grouped in the following focus areas.

  • Improve earnings and employment. Government has committed to progressively increasing the minimum wage to $20 per hour by April 2021. It is also increasing employment support through the Ministry of Social Development, and support for people with disabilities and health conditions to find and stay in meaningful employment.
  • Create a fairer and more equitable welfare system. Government is: implementing the Families Package to improve incomes for low- and middle-income families with children; overhauling the welfare system, taking into account the recommendations of the Welfare Expert Advisory Group; indexing main benefits to wages; and removing the sanction under section 192 of the Social Security Act 2018, which reduces Child Support for a sole parent who does not identify the other parent of a child.
  • Improve housing affordability, quality and security. There are a range of initiatives including 6,400 new public housing places by 2022, bringing in quality standards for rental homes, subsidising insulation and heating, strengthening Housing First to address chronic homelessness, and increasing funding for transitional housing support.
  • Help families with the cost of essentials. Budget 2019 included several initiatives aimed at reducing the cost of essentials for families, including a prototype for a free school lunch programme, additional funding for schools to replace donations, and funding to cover the cost of NCEA (National Certificate of Educational Achievement). Budget 2018 provided funding to extend free GP visits and prescriptions to children under the age of 14.

For more detail about the Government's actions under this outcome refer to the Current Programme of Action for Child and Youth Wellbeing.

Every child has a village

Powered by the sun and local volunteers, Common Unity's off-grid, purpose-built community kitchen produces around 200 vegetarian meals every day for the Lower Hutt community. Made with 100 percent locally grown produce, half the meals are given to children at four local primary schools, while the rest are sold to cover operational costs.

Common Unity began in 2012 when founder Julia Milne and her neighbour, the principal of Epuni Primary School, converted the school's soccer field into a vegetable garden. The aim was to teach the students how to grow and cook their own fresh, healthy food - something that many of the students didn't have regular access to at the time.

Common Unity is anchored by strong values, particularly around reciprocity and sharing. "Gardening is a great thing to teach children, particularly the idea of harvest and abundance, which creates a possibility to share. It's quite special for the students to share their kai with others - sharing is a powerful thing when your experience is not having enough," says Julia.

"While the project began from a desire to feed children, our vision - Every child has a village - recognises that it takes more than a garden to feed a community and nourish our children," says Julia. Community Unity now acts as an umbrella to 21 social enterprises - initiatives that both incubate and nurture the needs of the community.

Children and young people are happy and healthy

This means:

  • they have the best possible health, starting before birth
  • they build self-esteem and resilience
  • they have good mental wellbeing and recover from trauma
  • they have spaces and opportunities to play and express themselves creatively
  • they live in healthy and sustainable environments.

Why is this important?

Good health starts early, well before birth. An overwhelming body of evidence shows that what happens in utero affects wellbeing throughout life. It is critical during pregnancy to maintain good physical and mental health, to have access to healthy food and to avoid alcohol and other toxins (which negatively affect a baby's brain development).

Brain development for babies is built by having two-way interactions with the people around them.[24] As babies reach out to the world, nurturing adults respond, cementing brain connections. Time for quality bonding and parental wellbeing underpins successful development in the early years. Without responsive interactions with adults, young children's brain development can be hindered, which can have a lifelong impact.

Parents need good mental health during and after pregnancy, so they can establish a deep and loving connection with their baby. Many refer to the first three months after birth as the fourth trimester, which reflects the huge amount of development happening in those first months. A baby's needs are best met by ensuring carers and families and whānau have the health and wellbeing they require to love and nurture their baby.

The key to happy and healthy children and young people is having strong, healthy connections to people who love and nurture them. Good physical and mental health is important for wellbeing and as a foundation to achieve developmental milestones, participate in activities and benefit from learning. Good mental wellbeing is critical to positive emotions, social interactions and resilience to stress.

Children and young people also need time and space just to be themselves, to play, explore and create. Homes, learning places, playgrounds, parks and other community spaces need to be inclusive, accessible, welcoming and safe for all.

Children and young people's health and safety extends well into their social environment. This includes access to and regulation of alcohol, drugs, tobacco and gambling in communities. A healthy community with playgrounds, parks and public spaces encourages good health and wellbeing and the benefits continue throughout life.

Young people are concerned about bullying, anxiety and depression. It is unacceptable that New Zealand's youth suicide rates are amongst the worst in the OECD, with young Māori, Pacific and LGBTQIA+ people disproportionately represented. Well over half of youth suicides involve alcohol or illegal drug exposure.[25] Young people want better and more accessible mental wellbeing promotion and mental health and addiction services designed and tailored to their needs, culture and gender.

Promotion, prevention or early intervention is the best place to focus as it helps people faster and more effectively. Health statistics show that half of all lifetime cases of mental illness start by age 14 and three-quarters start by age 24. If left untreated, mental health issues can lead to long-term problems.

A strong sense of self-esteem helps children and young people feel happy and able to cope with life's challenges. Resilience is important for an individual's development throughout life. Individual and family resilience can, for example, reduce the likelihood of children and young people experiencing anxiety or other stress-related conditions. Excessive exposure to stress and difficulty can challenge an individual's resilience. Reducing stress is just as important as promoting resilience and coping with stress.[26]

New Zealand children and young people are active (half belong to a sports club or team) and many want more activity and knowledge to make positive life choices. Evidence shows that sport and physical activity can improve confidence, self-esteem and body image and improve overall cognitive and mental health in young people.[27] There is also growing evidence that arts and creative expression contribute to wellbeing and can influence parental health, child development, social inclusion and mental health.[28]

Have all schools linked to mental health care because depression & bullying play a big role in everyday life.

What did New Zealanders say about this outcome?

  • Being happy, having fun and enjoying life were the most common things children and young people told us they need for a good life.
  • Being healthy is important: health is a balance of mental, physical and spiritual health. Health and happiness were linked to acceptance and positive identity.
  • Bullying, anxiety and depression were identified as significant barriers to the health and happiness of children and young people.
  • There were requests for better and more accessible health services (particularly for mental and sexual health) that are tailored to needs, culture and gender identity.
  • There was strong support for empowering parents and improving the journey of the child and their family through pregnancy and in early childhood. This includes preparing young people for parenthood.
  • Specific groups of young people, including those who identify as LGBTQIA+, those with disabilities, and those who are refugees or recent migrants asked for their particular health needs to be recognised and met.

Government's focus and key actions

Government is prioritising work to improve mental wellbeing, along with work on the maternity system and support in the early years. Actions are grouped in the following focus areas.

  • Redesign maternity and early years support. Government is undertaking significant work to improve the universal maternity and Well Child Tamariki Ora services. It is also expanding the Pregnancy and Parenting Service, which provides intensive support to parents and parents-to-be, and caregivers experiencing problems with alcohol and other drugs and who are poorly connected to health and social support services.
  • Inspire active, healthy and creative children and young people. Healthy Active Learning is a new initiative to support healthy eating and quality physical activity in schools, kura and early learning settings. Government is also extending and enhancing nurses in schools (School-Based Health Services) in secondary schools, implementing its Strategy for Women and Girls in Sport and Active Recreation, and launching a Creatives in Schools programme.
  • Increase support for mental wellbeing. Government is working to transform the approach to mental health and addiction, in response to the report of the independent Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction. Budget 2019 investment starts to lay the foundations for a transformed approach to mental wellbeing and includes: funding to expand access to primary mental health and addiction support (including in youth settings), improved forensic mental health services for young people, and wellbeing resources for primary and intermediate schools. Government is also developing a suicide prevention strategy, which will include a focus on young people.

For more detail about the Government's actions under this outcome refer to the Current Programme of Actions for Child and Youth Wellbeing.

Importance of early brain development - from a Māori perspective

Since 1998, Brainwave Trust Aotearoa has been delivering educational programmes to thousands of parents, grandparents, teachers, professionals working with whānau and tamariki, and wider communities about how early experiences influence a child's brain development.

After being approached by a number of organisations to present from a Māori perspective, as well as requests to create new collaborative initiatives with iwi in the Auckland region, Brainwave Trust successfully gained funding and support to develop a strengths-based programme specifically for Māori audiences.

Following a pilot programme, Brainwave is now rolling out the Tiakina te tamaiti programme. Kaitiaki of the programme and Brainwave Trust kaiako, André Ngāpō, says "Brainwave's vision is that all tamariki in Aotearoa New Zealand are valued and nurtured so they can reach their full potential. We speak up for children by sharing the evidence that shows the impact everyone has on the life of a tamaiti."

Drawing on research, Brainwave's aim is to enhance the wellbeing of all tamariki and rangatahi. It welcomes opportunities to share its knowledge with others who share this aim.

Children and young people are learning and developing

This means:

  • they are positively engaged with, progressing and achieving in education
  • they develop the social, emotional and communication skills they need as they progress through life
  • they have the knowledge, skills and encouragement to achieve their potential and enable choices around further education, volunteering, employment and entrepreneurship
  • they can successfully navigate life's transitions.

Why is this important?

Learning and development begins with parents, caregivers, families and whānau. They have a critical role to support and encourage their children's development and learning throughout their lives. Rich, meaningful experiences and safe and secure relationships in a child's early years are important for children's development and provide a strong foundation for lifelong learning and wellbeing. Having the time and access to guidance can support parents and caregivers in their child's early years. High-quality early childhood education can also deliver these experiences.

Learning opportunities and experiences develop social, cultural, emotional and cognitive competencies, including resilience, critical thinking and relating well to others. Education has an important role in supporting children and young people to develop the knowledge, competencies and characteristics to be successful in life, and to contribute to their family and whānau, and their communities.

Children and young people learn better when they are engaged, safe and included. This means their needs are understood and their identities, languages, cultures, abilities and personal qualities are recognised, respected and valued.[29] It is critical that New Zealand's learning environments are inclusive and value and reflect Māori identity, language and culture, and the aspirations of Māori whānau, hapū and iwi. This supports Māori tamariki and rangatahi to achieve as Māori within education.

Educators must work to encourage and help learners of all cultures achieve and to make places of learning welcoming for parents, caregivers, families and whānau. Strong relationships promote engagement in education and help make learning relevant. Learning is enabled when every child and young person has regular access to high quality and inclusive learning opportunities. In New Zealand the educational experiences of children and young people vary, with inequities in opportunities and outcomes. There are a number of reasons inequalities occur, including limited resourcing, racism, discrimination and stigma. These can limit educational engagement, progress and achievement and the ability of children and young people to fully explore their potential and lead the best lives they can.

Children and young people make many transitions throughout life, including from home through to formal education and into employment, entrepreneurship and volunteering. Learners who are also experiencing additional transitions, such as changing homes or care situations, or moving between Māori and English schooling mediums need more planning and active support. Young people who have been in care or the youth justice system often face more challenges moving into adulthood and independence, including finding secure quality housing and getting social and financial support.

Learning and education involve much more than preparing young people for future employment. It should empower all children and young people, their families and whānau to establish their own values, connect to their community, set and realise their goals, and live their best lives today and in the future. Young people need support to make the best education choices to enable them to thrive in a rapidly changing world.

It is unfair for young people in lower socio-economic communities to miss out on school activities due to financial reasons.

What did New Zealanders say about this outcome?

  • Learning is very important to help children and young people succeed and achieve their aspirations. Education is a key contributor to future wellbeing and financial security.
  • Children want more support to learn in a way that is accessible to them - they called for more one-on-one support, particularly for those with additional learning needs.
  • Feeling like they belong at school is really important to young people. So is having kind, helpful teachers who care about them and can connect with them. On the flip side, school can be stressful and bullying was identified as a barrier to learning and wellbeing.
  • Young people said they wanted more 'life skills' (such as interpersonal skills, budgeting, and knowing how to access housing) to be taught in school, to help them become adults and find jobs. Young people with disabilities and additional learning needs strongly emphasised their need to learn life skills, along with wider support when they left school.
  • For many people cost is a barrier to learning and developing. Government was asked to do more to ensure that everyone can access high-quality education and ensure more equity in education. People said that more should be done to reduce the costs of school supplies, food, sport and activities. Parents said when they can't afford school supplies and activities, it adds to feelings of social exclusion for them and their children.
  • Māori participants asked government to improve children and young people's experience of the education system and spoke of the need for widespread teaching about the Te Tiriti o Waitangi and te reo Māori.
  • Using schools and early learning services as community hubs to deliver services such as counselling, dental care, or employment and financial advice for families and whānau was suggested.

Government's focus and key actions

Government has launched a programme of review across the education sector - early learning (including home-based), compulsory schooling, learning support and tertiary education - to improve equity and ensure no-one misses out. An immediate priority is children and young people who need extra support in the education system. Actions are grouped in the following focus areas.

  • Improve quality in education. A statement of National Education and Learning Priorities (NELP) is being developed that sets out the Government's priorities for early childhood and compulsory education. Budget 2019 provided funding to improve data about student progress and learning support needs. Work is also being done to reform home-based early childhood education and vocational education.
  • Increase equity of educational outcomes. The Learning Support Action Plan and increased funding for learning support will improve outcomes for children and young people who need extra support in the education system. Government has a medium-term focus on using the Equity Index to provide more equitable resourcing to schools and kura. It has also funded an initiative to improve education outcomes for Pacific learners, and introduced the Fees-Free Tertiary Education and Training policy.
  • Support life transitions. This includes a new service for to support young people as they transition out of care or youth justice settings, and a range of programmes to support young people into employment or training.

For more detail about the Government's actions under this outcome refer to the Current Programme of Action for Child and Youth Wellbeing.

Māori and Pasifika Trades Training

Quality employment opportunities in construction, infrastructure and allied trades are being created for young South Aucklanders who often face challenges in the labour market – those not in education, employment or training, sole parents and people who have experienced long-term unemployment or sporadic, low-wage employment.

The Māori and Pasifika Trades Training programme is led by The Southern Initiative (TSI) in South Auckland, in partnership with a consortium of private training establishments and with funding from the Tertiary Education Commission.

As part of the initiative, TSI tested a wraparound employment brokering service with graduates over 13 months. They wanted to ensure they had the licenses, equipment and relational support to connect the young people to quality jobs with professional development and meaningful wages. They found that providing quality manaakitanga (pastoral care and coaching) before and after a placement, improved graduates chances of securing long-term sustainable employment.

Due to demand, TSI expanded the programme in 2018, adding a 14-week information and communication technology course to put participants in a stronger position to gain employment.

Children and young people are accepted, respected and connected

This means:

  • they feel accepted, respected and valued at home, school, in the community and online
  • they feel manaakitanga: kindness, respect and care for others
  • they live free from racism and discrimination
  • they have stable and healthy relationships
  • they are connected to their culture, language, beliefs and identity, including whakapapa and tūrangawaewae (place of belonging).

Why is this important?

A positive sense of identity and experience of respectful relationships underpins children and young people's ability to feel manaakitanga: to show kindness, respect and care for others. Respect for others is important because too many children and young people are bullied and there is no reason to accept this as a normal part of growing up. Friendships and social connections are the foundation for the human need for 'belonging' and they protect people from the effects of toxic stress and other adversity.

Children and young people in New Zealand want to live in a country where culture and diversity is not just accepted but embraced and celebrated everywhere. Young people say we need to do more to embrace diversity. Children and young people need safe spaces and time to explore and establish their identities. It is important that they are accepted for who they are without having to fit into narrow and limiting norms.

A strong sense of identity builds higher self-esteem and resilience. Cultural identity is important for most people. Knowing your heritage helps you understand your identity, connections to others and sense of place, land and time. When children and young people feel connected, for example to their whakapapa and tūrangawaewae, they are likely to have a stronger sense of identity and confidence.

When families and whānau experience racism and discrimination, this directly affects children and young people. Young people talk about experiencing racism and discrimination in schools, being treated unfairly and made to feel unsafe.[30] Some classmates, peers, teachers, doctors and other adults act in unfair ways. Racism and discrimination are felt through conversations or interactions with others, unfair behaviours, lower expectations, reduced opportunities, racial profiling and structural bias. Discrimination is sometimes linked to bullying and both affect mental wellbeing and have harmful impacts that can continue throughout a person's life.

Many existing services and systems, including health, education and justice, are designed in ways that can create structural bias that may not adequately support or embrace all children and young people (for example, those who are Māori, Pacific, recent migrants or New Zealanders from a refugee background, disabled, LGBTQIA+, or who have low socio­economic status or mental health challenges).

Everyone has a right to see their culture and identity celebrated in positive ways. This includes dismantling racism and discrimination at structural, community and personal levels.

The way we communicate, seek information and are influenced by peers, media and commercial interests (online and offline) has increased information and pressure on children and young people. Social media, free and uncensored online content, including pornography, and access to smart phones has made big differences to young people's relationships, connections and the way they see themselves. Young people need support to navigate the new challenges of real and online relationships and online bullying.

To be accepted, to be understood & taken seriously. It's important because it gives you confidence in your uniqueness.

What did New Zealanders say about this outcome?

  • Children and young people want to feel accepted irrespective of their culture, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, neurodiversity, disability, mental health, or family situation. They want to be accepted by their family and whānau, their friends and their communities. Acceptance through celebrating culture was particularly important for Māori children and young people.
  • Racism and discrimination are creating barriers and the impacts are widely felt by children and young people at school, work and in their community. Discrimination and exclusion were commonly mentioned by Māori and Pacific young people, those with disabilities and those who identified as a part of the LGBTQIA+ community. Racism and discrimination were tied to bullying, which is a significant barrier to wellbeing.
  • A lack of cultural competency in the design and delivery of services was a barrier. Māori and Pacific people reported they continue to be marginalised, and that Māori and Pacific knowledge and values are not taken into account by some service providers.
  • Māori children and young people identified the importance of having a strong cultural identity and connection to whakapapa, and the need for greater support and services for those not connected to their hapū and iwi. Māori of all ages emphasised the importance of having opportunities to learn and speak te reo Māori.
  • As well as cultural identity, Pacific people said that their faith is intrinsic to their wellbeing. They said Pacific young people can feel pressure to balance traditional cultural expectations alongside an evolving cultural identity in New Zealand.
  • Young people from refugee and recent migrant communities talked about navigating intergenerational and intracultural tensions and that these issues need to be recognised to support them and their families better.

Government's focus and key actions

  • Address racism and discrimination. Officials are developing a work programme that will aim to address racism and discrimination, including through policy and legislative processes. Government has also restarted Te Kotahitanga to support equitable outcomes for Māori learners by addressing cultural bias and racism in the education system (Te Hurihanganui) and supporting whānau to engage in the education of Māori learners (Mana Whānau).
  • Increase a sense of belonging and cultural connections. Government is implementing Maihi Karauna - the Crown's Strategy for Māori Language Revitalisation, which identifies all New Zealanders under 25 as a priority group. Te Ahu o Te Reo Māori will improve te reo Māori ability in the education workforce and is the start of Government's plan to better integrate te reo Māori across the education system. Budget 2019 provided funding to implement legislative changes that require specific considerations for tamariki and rangatahi Māori in the Oranga Tamariki system. Actions to support Pacific languages and culture include developing an action plan for Pacific Aotearoa Lalanga Fou, and funding for projects to support Pacific realm languages.
  • Encourage positive and respectful peer relationships. Government will work to prevent bullying in schools and is expanding healthy relationships programmes in secondary schools.

For more detail about the Government's actions under this outcome refer to the Current Programme of Actions for Child and Youth Wellbeing.

Project Salaam

Project Salaam (peace) is enabling Muslim secondary school students to participate in youth leadership development that focuses on conflict resolution underpinned by Islamic values of non-violence, compassion, kindness and forgiveness. The training aims to address bullying, discrimination and Islamophobia and increase self-esteem and confidence. Training will enhance participants' learning and academic achievement and strengthen their cultural and faith identities. This initiative is being implemented in two secondary schools in Auckland. Following the events of 15 March in Christchurch, the project has taken on greater importance to address the health and wellbeing of the students in a culturally responsive manner. Topics include self-care, healthy eating, the benefits of physical activity and good sleeping habits, online safety and knowing their rights. This initiative is a collaboration between E Tū Whānau in the Ministry of Social Development, the Ministry of Education, secondary schools and the Auckland District Health Board.

Children and young people are involved and empowered

This means:

  • they contribute positively at home, at school and in their communities
  • they exercise kaitiakitanga: connection and care of the land and nature
  • they have their voices, perspectives and opinions listened to and taken into account
  • they are supported to increase autonomy as they age and to be responsible citizens
  • they and their families are supported to make healthy and informed choices around relationships, sexual health, alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.

Why is this important?

Children and young people feel more empowered and are more likely to get involved when they feel positive and comfortable with their own identity. Feeling a sense of value and belonging is a powerful motivator to contribute at home or in communities. Schools and clubs can play a big role because being part of a team and getting together for sport and recreation helps people feel like they belong and strengthens community participation.

Young people are experts in their own lives and this needs to be valued. Children and young people want their voices to provide insight and perspectives on what matters to them. This Strategy highlights the rights of children and young people to have their voices heard in matters that affect them. There is an expectation that central and local government, schools and service providers seek, hear and empower the views and voices of children and young people.

Children and young people love becoming more independent, from achieving toddler milestones, getting themselves to school, developing their own relationships and online presence, to finding their own place in the world. Actively supporting children and young people to increase their autonomy enables personal growth. Children and young people should be supported to increasingly take part in decision-making processes and determine their own futures.

Youth are active, motivated and capable. The Youth'12 survey found that 68 percent of respondents belonged to at least one community-run group. People have never before been so connected to each other and in touch with community and global issues. Youth-driven enterprises, initiatives and campaigns are common and show young people's motivation and ability to galvanise their peers and influence change.

Youth voices and action have recently placed a spotlight on the importance of addressing climate change and environmental issues. However, compared to other countries, New Zealand 15-year-olds report low awareness of environmental problems (63rd of 71 countries on PISA 2015 index) and they also reported low optimism. Young people need opportunities and information to exercise kaitiakitanga.

When children and young people know more about the risks they face and the choices they can make, it helps them to be purposeful about their own wellbeing. For example, increased education and emphasis on using contraception has resulted in a dramatic decrease in teen pregnancy rates. Young people and their families and whānau want good, accessible and culturally appropriate support to help them make informed choices about alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, health and relationships.

What did New Zealanders say about this outcome?

  • Children and young people want to be listened to and taken seriously when decisions are made that affect them, including at school, in State care, and in government decision-making.
  • Young people are frustrated that they don't have the power to change things. People questioned or provided suggestions about the role children and young people would have in the governance, accountability, and decision-making processes for this Strategy.
  • Greater partnership with communities in co-design, decision-making and delivery of services is needed.
  • Some young people talked about drugs and alcohol being a big part of their lives; and adults talked about substance abuse having a significant negative impact on the wellbeing of communities, whānau and individuals.

Government's focus and key actions

  • Increase child and youth voice and participation. A Youth Action Plan is being developed to ensure youth voice is heard and acted on across government. Government is also running a Youth Health and Wellbeing Survey to improve knowledge about young people's health and wellbeing, and launching a Youth Voice Project, to look at innovative ways to connect young people into government policy decisions and outcomes.
  • Advocate for children and young people's rights. This includes building public service competency and capability in children's rights and implementing the Child Impact Assessment Tool across government. Government is also strengthening independent oversight of Oranga Tamariki and strengthening the system for advocacy on behalf of children and by children.
  • Encourage positive choices and contributions. Youth justice initiatives will provide greater support for young people detained in custody. Government is implementing Paiheretia te Muka Tāngata, which uses a Whānau Ora approach to support Māori in the Corrections system. Budget 2019 funding will increase services to support children and young people with concerning or harmful sexual behaviours.

For more detail about the Government's actions under this outcome refer to the Current Programme of Actions for Child and Youth Wellbeing.

Birds, butterflies and local learning links

By following their children's interest in birds and bugs, kaiako at Picton Kindergarten are helping children learn about conservation, whanaungatanga and kaitiakitanga

“Many of our families this year are involved in enviro-groups, including the Kaipupu Point Wildlife Sanctuary, Picton Dawn Chorus, Conservation Kids and Department of Conservation,” Head Teacher Jo Huntley says. “Learning to care for the environment, the creatures in it and the connections between them, helps grow the children's understanding of kaitiakitanga, which is a big part of our kindergarten philosophy.”

A trip to the Wildlife Sanctuary sparked the children's interest in learning more about the Rowi kiwi they'd seen. This interest evolved into an exploration of insects and how to protect them, so native birds could have an adequate food source. The next step was setting up 'bug motels' in the kindy, followed by an exploration of birdhouses, and making their own little nests.

“It's about establishing connections with the natural world and caring for it, not only for the animals' wellbeing, but understanding how this affects our own wellbeing.,” says Jo. “It's hard to explain wairūa, but we discuss the feelings associated with hearing the kiwi at the sanctuary make its little noise, or seeing butterflies take flight for the first time,” Jo says.

 

Section D: Priorities, Governance & Next Steps

Prioritising the greatest needs first

The Children's Act 2014 requires the Government to adopt a strategy to improve the wellbeing of all children, including:

  • improving, as a particular focus, the wellbeing of children with greater needs;
  • reducing child poverty and mitigating impacts of child poverty and of socio-economic disadvantage experienced by children;
  • improving the wellbeing of the core populations of interest to Oranga Tamariki - Ministry for Children.

In addition, the Child Poverty Reduction Act 2018 requires a focus by government and society on significant and sustained child poverty reduction and sets the requirement for child poverty measures, targets and reporting. The Government is required to set long-term (10-year) and intermediate (three-year) targets on a set of child poverty measures and report against them annually.

The six wellbeing outcomes set out in this Strategy are the outcomes the Government is seeking for all children, including the priority groups identified above. This was reinforced during engagement – all children and young people deserve good wellbeing and equity of outcomes.

In order to achieve greater equity, the Government has prioritised policies and initiatives to improve the wellbeing of children and young people who are living in poverty and disadvantaged circumstances, those of interest to Oranga Tamariki, and those with mental health or additional learning needs. This focus is supported by public feedback and research. Longitudinal data indicates that, overall, these groups have significantly worse wellbeing than other children and young people and the research clearly points to long-term, intergenerational negative impacts if this is not changed.

This section demonstrates how Government is prioritising the needs of these groups.

Reducing child poverty and mitigating the effects of poverty and socio-economic disadvantage

The Government has prioritised reducing child poverty over the next 10 years, and is committed to addressing the negative impacts of child poverty and socio-economic disadvantage on the wellbeing of children and young people.

The negative impacts of poverty on children's health, development and wellbeing can begin before they are born and last throughout their lives. Reducing child poverty will positively impact on children and young people having what they need and will also have positive impacts across all the child and youth wellbeing outcomes.

Too many New Zealand children live with the daily reality of poverty, with between 150,000 and 250,000 children currently in poverty (based on the primary measures in the Child Poverty Reduction Act).

As well as limiting people's ability to meet basic needs such as housing, transport, power, food and clothing, poverty can be a barrier to important services, such as health, education and childcare. It can limit experiences, choices and opportunities that many New Zealanders take for granted, such as going to the beach, attending a birthday party, or joining a sports team.

When severe and persistent, poverty can be profound and lead to severe stress, stigma and exclusion, housing instability and transience, all of which unfairly affect immediate and long-term wellbeing.

Some families also lack opportunities, such as access to a good education, meaningful employment and services and support that can reduce the effects of hardship or having a low income. These socio-economic factors intersect with poverty, but also have a separate influence on children's wellbeing. It can be worse when poverty and socio-economic disadvantage are concentrated in communities.

Reducing Child Poverty

The Government announced ambitious 10-year targets that aim to reduce rates of child poverty by at least half, and establish New Zealand as one of the best performing countries for children. It has also identified 'Child Poverty Related Indicators' to help monitor a range of social issues closely related to poverty. For more information about the Child Poverty Targets and Child Poverty Related Indicators see page 84.

Immediate action is underway to improve the incomes and material wellbeing of households living in poverty and hardship. The introduction of the Families Package provides a starting point for reducing child poverty in line with the Government's targets, with an estimated 385,000 families with children better off by an average of $75 a week, once fully implemented.

The Current Programme of Action outlines more actions to increase the material resources available to households.

Reducing child poverty requires some system-wide shifts, including:

  • continued economic growth, improved productivity and increased wages, which needs to occur in a way that sees employment opportunities and real wage growth for working households that are at the bottom of the income distribution
  • a social welfare 'safety net' that ensures people have an adequate income and, where appropriate, supports people into sustainable, adequately paid employment
  • changes to income support to ensure that the living standards for the lowest income households keep up with other New Zealanders
  • enabling the housing market to deliver more affordable housing, making life better for renters, and ensuring that quality affordable housing is available for those on the lowest incomes
  • improvements to the in-kind assistance available to low-income families, and reductions in the demands on household budgets - particularly for essentials like food, energy, transport, and for services critical to child and youth outcomes, like health and education
  • a reduction in problem debt, through a focus on harmful lending practices, and improved coordination across government agencies.

The Government is also establishing a small scale prototype programme to test the provision of free school lunches for all Year 1 to 8 students to address food insecurity in selected schools with high concentrations of disadvantage.

Mitigating the impacts of child poverty and socio-economic disadvantage

Socio-economic disadvantage captures the wider social and economic factors (such as parental education, meaningful employment and access to services) that influence wellbeing and how disadvantage is distributed in communities.

A range of policies and initiatives will help mitigate the impact of poverty and socio-economic disadvantage on children, young people and their families and whānau. These are additional to the policies that directly increase the material resources available to households.

They include:

  • free and universal access to many core health and education services for children and young people in certain age ranges, and subsidies to reduce the cost of many other services that are important for learning and development
  • extra funding or staffing to help core services to address service gaps and better meet the needs of children and young people from disadvantaged families and communities
  • programmes for parents, families and communities to build skills and capabilities that enable them to support children's learning, development and wellbeing
  • programmes and services that seek to address the factors that can contribute to and perpetuate poverty and disadvantage.

As well as providing additional resources to meet the cost increases for many of these core services, policy work is underway to explore how the government allocates additional resources to mitigating socio-economic disadvantage.

Policy work and reviews are also underway in the following areas that will likely improve services to children and young people experiencing socio-economic disadvantage, including:

  • maternity and Well Child Tamariki Ora services - so that they are simpler, more integrated, whānau-centred, and better tailored to need
  • early learning services to help ensure that children learn and thrive in high-quality settings that support their identity, language, culture, learning and development and their transition to school
  • compulsory schooling to ensure more consistent performance across the school system
  • health and disability services, with a focus on improving equity
  • changes to mental health and addiction services, in response to the recent independent Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction
  • an overhaul of the welfare system to ensure everyone has an adequate income and standard of living, is treated with respect, can live in dignity and is able to participate meaningfully in their community.
Assessment of likely effect of policies aimed at reducing child poverty and mitigating socioeconomic disadvantage

The Strategy is required to include an assessment of the likely effect of government policies whose aim is to reduce child poverty, or mitigate the impacts of child poverty, or socio-economic disadvantage experienced by children. It must address any economic changes likely to arise from implementation of these policies as well as how the impact of these policies may be affected by any economic changes external to the policies.

New Zealand is experiencing broadly favourable economic conditions and wage growth and the outlook is forecast to be positive over the next five years.[31] Historically, the pattern in New Zealand has generally been for middle incomes to rise at a slightly faster rate than low incomes when economic conditions are positive. As a result, some child poverty rates would normally increase gradually over time if there is no specific government intervention.

The first Child Poverty Report on the impact of the Budget shows the effect of some of the policies (described in the section above) that are aimed at reducing child poverty. More specifically the impact of the Families Package and the Budget 2019 Incomes Package is that they will:

  • reduce child poverty rates on income before housing costs (50 percent of the median - relative) by between 24 percent and 37 percent by 2020/21
  • reduce child poverty rates incomes after housing costs (50 percent median fixed at 2017/18) by between 22 percent and 30 percent by 2020/21.

For more information about the likely effect of policies aimed at reducing child poverty see the Child Poverty Budget 2019 Report.

The Child and Youth Wellbeing Indicators measure the Strategy's outcomes including socio-economic disparities. The extent to which policies are reducing the impact of socio-economic disadvantage has on children and any trends in disparities between groups will be made visible by public reporting. See pages 78-84 for more details.

It is too early to assess the likely impact of the policies that may emerge from the reviews described above. As these reviews progress, identifying and assessing the impact on equity and the extent to which proposed changes are mitigating the effects of poverty and socio-economic disadvantage will be important.

Improving the wellbeing of children and young people of interest to Oranga Tamariki

Thousands of New Zealand children and young people who are in State care (about 6,400 at any one time), or who are at high risk of needing State care, experience low wellbeing over their lives. Most children and young people of interest to Oranga Tamariki are living in families with multiple and complex needs that may not be well served by the public system. These can include the combined effects of long-term unemployment, poverty, unaddressed physical and mental health needs, parental alcohol and drug problems, and/or family violence. Some children and young people who enter care have suffered repeated abuse, victimisation and exposure to violence. Many have experienced significant instability in their care.

A major review in 2015 found that the care, protection, and youth justice systems were not meeting the needs of children and young people, including not doing enough to improve their long-term outcomes. These findings were informed by young people who had experience with the system.

As a result, the Government is continuing to make major changes to improve the care and protection and youth justice systems to provide safe, stable and loving care and support to the children and young people of interest to Oranga Tamariki.

Changes will mean more children can stay safe at home or be returned to their wider family or whānau with the right kind of support around them. For children and young people who can't continue to live safely with their family or whānau, State care will be more stable, with better understanding of children and young people's needs and the right responses to make sure they thrive.

Supporting children earlier and improving quality of support in State care

As part of the new operating model for Oranga Tamariki, an intensive intervention service is being developed. Highly skilled support workers will work with the families and whānau of children and young people most at risk of entry or re-entry into State care to support them to remain safely at home. There is also more investment for non-government partners to provide early intervention services. These changes will mean more children stay safe at home with their families and whānau.

The recruitment, support, training and retention of caregivers is critical to providing loving homes for children in care. The Oranga Tamariki (National Care Standards and Related Matters) Regulations 2018 (known as the National Care Standards) came into force on 1 July 2019. They set standards of care that every child and young person must receive when they are in care or youth justice custody, as well as the support caregivers must receive.

To meet these standards, Oranga Tamariki is continuing to:

  • improve frontline capacity and capability
  • deliver high-quality services to children and young people to address their needs
  • recruit and support high-quality caregivers
  • build capacity to provide care for children and young people with very high needs.
Improving transitions

Young people who have been in care or youth justice often face greater challenges and have less support as they transition to adulthood and independence. Changes from 1 July 2019 will provide dedicated additional support to these young people to help them successfully move to independence and adulthood.

Improving youth justice responses

From 1 July 2019 Oranga Tamariki became responsible for accommodating 17-year-olds in the youth justice system. Purpose-built and redeveloped small facilities, rather than institutional settings, will house more young people in their communities.

Improving outcomes for Māori who are in care

Māori children and young people are significantly over represented, and stay longer, in the care, protection and youth justice systems. The Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 recognises and provides a practical commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi. It includes:

  • ensuring the policies and practices of Oranga Tamariki reduce disparities through setting measurable outcomes for Māori children and young people
  • requiring Oranga Tamariki to have regard to the principles of mana tamaiti (tamariki) and the whakapapa of Māori children and young people and the whanaungatanga responsibilities of their whānau, hapū, and iwi
  • developing strategic partnerships with iwi and Māori organisations
  • reporting annually on measures taken to reduce disparities and improve outcomes for Māori children and young people.

To implement these provisions, Oranga Tamariki will work closely with iwi and Māori to develop key system functions (such as new early and intensive intervention services), as well as developing key initiatives that enable greater whānau participation in Oranga Tamariki processes and build positive cultural identity, connection and belonging.

Oranga Tamariki Action Plan

The children's agencies[32] are developing the Oranga Tamariki Action Plan over 2019. It will drive collective effort and accountability and set out how the children's agencies will achieve the Strategy's outcomes for children and young people of interest to Oranga Tamariki.

Addressing family and sexual violence

Experiencing and being exposed to family violence and sexual violence undermines almost every dimension of wellbeing, and can have a significant impact on children and young people. New Zealand's rates of reported family violence and sexual violence are among the highest in the developed world and a significant reason for notifications to Oranga Tamariki. The Government has prioritised reducing family violence, sexual violence and violence toward whānau, with a focus on children and young people.

Responsibility for addressing family violence and sexual violence is currently distributed among at least 10 government agencies. A cross-government joint venture is developing new ways of working across government, and with iwi and communities, to reduce family violence and sexual violence. The joint venture agencies are developing a strategy and action plan during 2019, which will include a strong focus on support for children and young people in the context of their families, whānau, and communities, as well as addressing the underlying causes of family violence, sexual violence and violence toward whānau.

Ending family violence and sexual violence will take ongoing effort and funding, combining new funding with better use of existing resources.

Actions the Government has taken or signalled include:

  • significant investment in family violence services in the 2018 and 2019 Budgets, including new investment in prevention. This includes increasing funding for current national and community-led approaches, expanding prevention activities for specific communities (including LGBTQIA+, disabled people, older people and new migrants), and increasing action around a child's early years
  • supporting community-led approaches and using technology to ensure the crisis response to family violence is safe, consistent and effective. This includes extending existing community-based pilots (Integrated Safety Response and Whāngaia Ngā Pā Harakeke), strengthening crisis responses in every community and developing proposals to ensure services are integrated around people in need, in every community with the ability to intervene earlier
  • expanding essential specialist sexual violence services. This includes providing specialist age-appropriate services for children and youth, growing specialist sexual violence services for kaupapa Māori providers, and providing specialist psycho-social support for victims of sexual violence going through the court system
  • reforming the criminal justice system to better respond to victims of sexual violence through a package of legislative reforms, in response to the Law Commission's 2015 report on the justice response to victims of sexual violence and its 2019 (second) review on the Evidence Act 2006
  • providing leadership and accountability to eliminate family violence and sexual violence - across government, with communities, and in partnership with Māori - through the joint venture and a dedicated business unit.

Improving the wellbeing of children and young people with greater needs

The Children's Act does not define “greater needs”. It is a relative concept and all children and young people may have greater needs at different times. Unexpected problems, such as a sudden drop in parental income, relationship breakdown or a serious injury, can create significant short-term stress or hardship. Sector specific responses can frequently address these short-term needs.

However these needs can sometimes become longer term, and can create compounding issues that require agencies to work together to support that family and their children. For example, longer-term illness (physical or mental health) of either parents or children can impact income, which can then impact housing stability or family relationships. People said that when children, family and whānau are facing multiple issues, support across agencies often does not work well.

Research shows that having stress or low wellbeing across a range of areas is likely to have cumulative and longer-term negative impacts on children, lowering their resilience, adding stress and potentially affecting their brain development. They are also at higher risk of poorer outcomes later in life which might include:

  • significant periods of unemployment
  • low levels of education
  • multiple interactions with the justice system (as either victims or offenders)
  • long-term health needs, including mental health needs.

Some groups of people often or consistently experience greater challenges to their wellbeing and have difficulty accessing the services they need. For example, many disabled children or young people have additional care and support needs which, when unmet, can impact on their ability to participate, learn and develop.

Caring for children and young people with higher needs can also impact on family income, housing situation and wellbeing. Many children and young people with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and neurodiversity[33] have a range of unmet needs. There is also strong evidence that children and young people with disabilities and learning needs are also more likely to be bullied and abused.

Sex, gender, or sexuality diverse (LGBTQIA+) children and young people often have difficulty accessing appropriate health services and also frequently experience bullying and discrimination which can have severe mental health impacts.

Increasing migrant and refugee populations are reflected in the growing Asian, African and Middle Eastern communities in New Zealand. Representatives of these groups said they want to feel more welcome in New Zealand, with their cultures valued and embraced. Some migrants and refugees are dealing with trauma and conflict or with cultural differences, and need more help to access services and navigate systems.

Groups of people with higher levels of unmet needs are asking for a workforce that represents and reflects their perspectives, and access to services that are truly responsive and target their unique needs. This includes using respectful and inclusive language and terms. They want racism and discrimination eliminated and to be visible participants in decision-making at all levels.

As well as ensuring appropriate responses to those with specific areas of need, there must be a particular focus on those who are not doing well over a number of wellbeing outcomes. The Current Programme of Action includes initiatives that focus on improving outcomes for children and young people with greater needs. Initiatives include the Maternity Whole of System Action Plan, the Learning Support Action Plan and work to address racism and discrimination.

The initial focus in Budget 2019 has been in the areas of learning support and child and youth mental wellbeing as set out below.

Learning Support Action Plan

Currently one in five children and young people need some kind of extra support for their learning. Learning support refers to the additional support some children and young people need to engage and achieve in education.

Government will deliver on six strategic priorities to strengthen learning support.

  1. Introduce Learning Support Coordinators in schools and kura who will work to build the learning support capability of teachers, identify and plan for the disability and learning support needs of children and young people in the school or kura, and lead engagement with parents, caregivers, families and whānau. They will connect with a range of supports through the Learning Support Delivery Model.
  2. Develop universal screening to enable educators to identify and respond to children's additional learning needs earlier.
  3. Strengthen early intervention by identifying the mix, volume and additional types of services that are needed to support children. This will include looking at what information and support families and whānau need, and agencies working together to integrate and provide greater flexibility across the services and supports they deliver.
  4. Provide additional, more flexible supports for neuro-diverse children and young people by identifying a range of tools and resources for educators and parents and co-designing a flexible range of specialist supports, building on existing supports and programmes.
  5. Increase access to supports and learning opportunities for gifted children and young people.
  6. Improve education for children and young people at risk of disengaging from education by co-designing more adaptable, flexible supports to prevent disengagement of children and young people from education, improve supports for those that need them, and ensure better support is available to assist successful re-engagement.

Work will also be done on:

  • building the knowledge and understanding of boards of trustees and school leaders about the rights of children and young people who are disabled or need additional learning support to enrol in and receive an education from their local school
  • building teachers' confidence and capability to improve teaching practice to support children and young people with additional learning needs
  • improved data and information sharing
  • taking a more strategic and planned approach to the overall education network, including learning support.
Child and youth mental wellbeing

Good mental wellbeing is vital for children and young people to develop and flourish. The Government has prioritised improving mental wellbeing for children and young people.

Most children and young people are resilient and successfully transition into adulthood. However, some experience behavioural challenges or poor mental health, and most serious mental illnesses begin before 25 years of age. Compared to other countries, relatively more New Zealand children experience poor mental wellbeing, and there are inequities for population groups including those living in poverty.

Children and young people's mental wellbeing is influenced by a wide range of factors: a sense of connectedness or belonging, stability, security, physical health, attachment and parenting, cultural identity, education environments and support through important transitions (such as from primary to secondary school).

Important developmental stages for children and young people includes developing the capacity to experience, regulate and express emotions and to form close and secure interpersonal relationships.

There is evidence that promotion, prevention, and early intervention can have substantial benefits for wellbeing. Holistic approaches that aim to improve the mental wellbeing of children and young people, which include family and whānau, are important.

There are a number of initiatives to improve mental wellbeing and reduce suicide for people in New Zealand. Initiatives with a specific focus on children and young people include:

  • greater access and choice of primary mental health and addiction support, including a focus on kaupapa Māori services and youth-friendly services that are accessible, culturally appropriate and build on the strengths of young people and their supports to increase capacity and resilience
  • reviewing the Well Child Tamariki Ora programme which ensures child wellbeing by providing health and development checks to all children from birth to five years
  • expanding and enhancing School Based Health Services, including using electronic assessments, to enable more targeted responses and follow-up support to be provided
  • greater support for parents with mental health and addiction needs
  • resources to enhance the resilience and mental wellbeing of primary and intermediate school-aged children.

Additionally, a universal health and development contact framework is being developed across Health and Education. This will provide an integrated measurement and assessment schedule, from conception to 24 years of age, to support maternal, child and youth wellbeing. Understanding children and young people's mental wellbeing throughout their schooling will be a critical component of the assessment and measurement work.

Alignment Across Government

Governance and accountability

There are legal and operational arrangements in place to ensure collective Ministerial and agency-level governance and accountability for developing and implementing the Strategy. These also improve transparency through regular public reporting against the Strategy's outcomes.

Ministerial governance

The Minister Responsible for Child Poverty Reduction and the Minister for Children have shared overall responsibility for developing the Strategy with specific policy areas and actions co-led by other Ministers and their agencies. For example, policy work on addressing racism and discrimination is being led by the Ministers of Education and Justice while policy work on the first 1000 days is shared between the Ministers of Health and Social Development. The Minister for Youth is leading work on what young people consider is important to them. The overall Strategy has been developed in consultation with the Minister for Māori Development, and with the Children's Commissioner.

The Cabinet Social Wellbeing Committee (which considers strategic and policy matters relating to social wellbeing and supports a fair and dignified standard of living for all New Zealanders) has endorsed the Strategy. This includes the social sector investments made in Budget 2019.

Reporting

The Children's Act 2014 requires annual Ministerial reporting to Parliament on progress in achieving the child and youth wellbeing outcomes. Reports will draw together information and advice from all Ministers and agencies leading and delivering the policies and actions in the Strategy.

In addition, after the adoption of the Strategy, the legislation requires the chief executives of children's agencies to work together to develop and publish the Oranga Tamariki Action Plan. The Minister for Children is responsible for approving the plan. Once the Oranga Tamariki Action Plan comes into effect, chief executives of children's agencies must report jointly to the Minister for Children on the implementation of the plan. The implementation report must also be included in each agency's annual report to Parliament.

Government agency governance

Developing the shared child and youth wellbeing framework with support and input from all agencies has already enabled strong alignment of focus and efforts across agencies and joined-up advice to Ministers and to the Social Wellbeing Board on key priorities.

The Social Wellbeing Board is the Strategy's governance group. Made up of social sector chief executives, with an independent chair, it takes a collective approach to policy, implementation and delivery across the social sector. It is supported by the Social Investment Agency. The Social Wellbeing Board is overseeing a broader work programme across the social sector to develop a more strategic and coordinated approach to commissioning, contracting and funding non-governmental organisations, including iwi and Māori organisations.

Social sector agencies are also working to better understand and plan for workforce, capability and leadership needs for the future of the social sector.

These are complex, interrelated issues that cannot be addressed by any single agency. They are also system enablers - issues that are broader than the scope of the Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy, but vitally important for its success.

Taking a whānau-centred approach

The Children's Act 2014 requires children and young people to be seen in the context of their families, whānau, hapū, and iwi, other culturally recognised family groups and communities. A principle has been introduced to the outcomes framework to guide implementation of the Strategy with that requirement in mind.

A whānau-centred approach is one way that organisations and those responsible for the wellbeing of children, particularly Māori children, can give effect to the Strategy's principles. Whānau can mean immediate family or much wider family. As well as whakapapa whānau, there are also kaupapa whānau: people joined together for a common purpose with a sense of group unity.

A whānau-centred approach is not new. It is grounded in Māori models of wellbeing, including Te Whare Tapa Whā and Te Wheke, and sits behind the Whānau Ora Outcomes Framework. A whānau-centred approach can be applied to policy, service design and delivery settings and is characterised by:

  • placing whānau at the centre, with an emphasis on the collective, as well as the individual
  • acknowledging whānau values, aspirations, needs and strengths at the core
  • applying holistic wellbeing approaches that include cultural and spiritual influences, grounded in te ao Māori and kaupapa Māori in such a way that restores and strengthens whānau
  • focusing on measuring effectiveness based on outcomes - sometimes over generations
  • enabling whānau to determine their own future
  • is strengths based
  • promoting cultural concepts while acknowledging whānau diversity
  • enhancing collaboration and integration across government.

The 2018 Whānau Ora Review: Tipu Matoro ki Te Ao: Final Report to the Minister for Whānau Ora, identified that a whānau-centred approach can result in positive change for whānau and can create the conditions for that change to be sustainable. The report contained recommendations to extend the reach of Whānau Ora, which Te Puni Kōkiri is leading. In extending the Whānau Ora approach, opportunities may arise for more effective ways to deliver services to children and young people in the context of their whānau. Taking advantage of these opportunities is part of the next steps for the Strategy.

Next steps for the Strategy

The Strategy sets a long-term direction to unify efforts across government and society to improve child and youth wellbeing. It makes headway on addressing complex problems, consistent with what New Zealanders identified as important during engagement. The accompanying Current Programme of Action focuses on issues that will have significant impact on improving child and youth wellbeing.

A single strategy and programme of action cannot solve the challenges of child and youth wellbeing all at once. Updates on this work will build on the current Strategy to address gaps and identify new areas of focus.

The Strategy will be reviewed at least every three years (as required by the Children's Act 2014) and the Current Programme of Action can be updated when required.

Government will undertake ongoing outreach and engagement as work under the Strategy proceeds. This will include groups identified in the Children's Act 2014 to be consulted with before the Strategy is refreshed. This includes children, the Children's Commissioner, the Minister for Māori Development, and Māori.

Supporting work and action plans

The Strategy is supported by other areas of work and action plans across government that, when implemented will also help achieve the outcomes in the Strategy. Along with on-going policy priorities there are some significant actions being implemented. Many of these are detailed in the Current Programme of Action. Important examples include:

  • Maternity Whole of System Action Plan: this five-year programme will redesign maternity services to ensure babies have the best possible health and development and that their parents and caregivers, families and whānau receive the care and support they need.
  • Review of the Well Child Tamariki Ora programme: this review will assess and redesign the programme's funding, contracting and service delivery models to ensure it is sustainable and delivering the best possible health and wellbeing outcomes for babies, children and families. The review and resulting action plan will contribute to the development of a universal core measurement and assessment framework from conception to 24 years of age.
  • Education System Transformation: the Government is committed to a programme of work to ensure the education system delivers equity, to give practical effect to the Treaty by achieving improved outcomes for Māori ākonga and whānau, and to create a system that is future focussed and adaptable.
  • Welfare System Overhaul: the welfare system is being overhauled to ensure people have an adequate income and standard of living, are treated with respect, can live in dignity and are able to participate meaningfully in their communities. Many of the changes address concerns and recommendations outlined in the Welfare Expert Advisory Group report.
  • Youth Action Plan: this plan will ensure youth voices are heard and acted on across government, policy is developed alongside young people and to enable change. Focus population groups include Māori and Pacific young people, disabled young people, rainbow youth, young people from ethnic communities, and young people from rural areas.
  • Oranga Tamariki Action Plan: this will focus on cross-government work to achieve wellbeing outcomes for the children and young people of interest to Oranga Tamariki, and will link closely to the Strategy.
  • Learning Support Action Plan: actions under this plan will improve how the system responds to children and young people with additional learning needs, and strengthen the range and flexibility of supports available to them.
  • Disability Action Plan: this plan is an important way for Government to include the voices and perspectives of disabled children and young people in its actions for all disabled people.
  • Strategy and action plan to eliminate family violence and sexual violence: this will help ensure children and young people have families, whānau and communities that are loving, free from violence, safe and nurturing.
  • Extending the Whānau Ora Approach: The 2018 Whānau Ora Review: Tipu Matoro ki te ao: Final Report to the Minister for Whānau Ora, identified that a whānau-centred approach can result in positive change for whānau and can create the conditions for that change to be sustainable. Te Puni Kōkiri is leading work to extend the Whānau Ora approach across government agencies.
  • Implementation plan for Maihi Karauna: the Crown's Strategy for Māori Language Revitalisation: tamariki and rangatahi (all New Zealanders under 25) are a priority group under the strategy.
  • Action plan for Pacific Aotearoa Lalanga Fou: one of the four goals of Pacific Aotearoa is 'Confident, thriving and resilient Pacific young people'.
  • Transformation of mental health and addiction approach: This includes implementation of the Government's response to He Ara Oranga: Report of the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction. This includes a focus on improving the mental wellbeing of children and young people.

Growing collective action

Improving the quality of life of New Zealand's children and young people is in everyone's interests. The development, publication and implementation of the Strategy provides an opportunity to encourage and enable greater collective investment in the lives of children and young people. Much of the support and care for children and young people is provided by individuals and organisations outside of government. When implementing the Strategy, it is crucial to draw on the knowledge, insights and interest of children and families, local government, iwi, non-governmental organisations, business and community sectors and learn from successful community-led initiatives. The Strategy will likely have better reach and impact, and act as a catalyst for further positive action, if there is active work happening alongside stakeholders outside of government.

Other countries that have developed similar strategies (notably Ireland and the United Kingdom),[34] highlight the importance of strong, central leadership; wide engagement with government and the community and voluntary sectors; and identifying a manageable number of actions. This Strategy and its implementation were developed with this in mind.

New Zealanders who helped develop the Strategy, said it must be bigger than government. Many offered their support and some are already taking action. Others who work to improve the wellbeing of children and young people in New Zealand are invited to consider and apply the framework in their planning and delivery of services. Three-quarters of New Zealanders agree that everyone has responsibility to care for children and young people in their community.[35]

The Strategy seeks to inspire and support further activity by describing a small number of the thousands of innovative community-led projects and activities around New Zealand. Most people already support the wellbeing of children, young people and their families every day in their homes, their work and their neighbourhoods.

The Strategy can guide those working with children and young people about what they want and need to live a good life and where greater focus is needed.

Ecological model

One way of thinking about the different roles and responsibilities for children and young people is the 'ecological' model presented here. It depicts the different levels of social influences around a child.

Using this model, organisations can locate themselves within the sphere of supports for children and young people and identify others they can work with.

There are some immediate steps that organisations and institutions working with children and young people can take:

  • Align the organisation's planning and actions to the child and youth wellbeing framework, using Strategy's outcomes and guiding principles.
  • Incorporate children and young peoples' voices and feedback into planning and delivery processes and governance arrangements, where appropriate.
  • Seek partnerships and relationships with other organisations that enable support to children, young people, their families and whānau to be holistic and address the outcomes in the framework.

Series of circles nested inside one another representing the inter-related environments in which children live. The child is in the centre and the broader societal settings are in the outer circle. These circles are laid on top the tree of wellbeing.

This model has been adapted from Bronfenbrenner's Ecological Systems Theory.

Implementation timeline

2018 to 2019: Establishing the Strategy

  • 2018 – The foundation of a national strategy. Leadership from government at the highest levels. Establishing legislation to underpin the Strategy with strong support across Parliament.
  • August to December 2018: Public engagement to inform the development of the first Strategy. DPMC partnered with the Office of the Children's Comissioner, Oranga Tamariki – Ministry for Children, Te Puni Kōkiri and the Ministry of Health to engage with a wide range of individuals and organisations.  Over 10,000 New Zealanders, including 6,000 children and young people, provided input.
  • January to July 2019: Development of a national strategy informed by public engagement. It includes a long-term vision, wellbeing outcomes, guiding principles and key actions to address the issues New Zealanders see as most important to improve child and youth wellbeing.
  • April 2019: First report against the measures of child poverty released by the Government Statistician using 2017/18 data as a baseline. Further reports to be released annually.
  • May 2019: Government sets official targets to reduce child poverty and formally notifies in the New Zealand Gazette. Government Wellbeing Budget includes:
    • reducing child poverty and improving child wellbeing, including addressing family violence
    • supporting mental wellbeing for all New Zealanders, with a special focus on under 25-year-olds
    • lifting Māori and Pacific incomes, skills and opportunities.

2019 onwards: Growing support for the Strategy and inviting collective action

  • August 2019: Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy and Programme of Action published and website launched.
  • From August 2019: Progress on actions at all levels, identifying and planning further work needed. Includes work across government agencies to support and embed the system-level changes needed, aligning effort and resources to make progress against the Strategy's outcomes. Work on the Oranga Tamariki Action Plan well underway. Joined-up planning to align roll out of government actions and reviews underway.
  • From August 2019: Engagement to socialise the Strategy. Inviting and supporting non-governmental organisations to adopt the Strategy and its framework and use it for business planning purposes. Examples of good practice, tools and resources are profiled.
  • From late 2019 and ongoing: Engagement on implementation by central government with local government, Māori and iwi organisations, business, non-governmental organisations, philanthropic and community sectors on opportunities to align efforts around the wellbeing outcomes in the Strategy. Consideration of how central government can best support local priorities and enable locally led solutions.
  • By December 2019: Child and Youth Wellbeing Indicator update published.

2020 onwards: Growing alignment to the Strategy and mobilising collective action

  • March 2020 and every six months thereafter: First six monthly report on the implementation of the Strategy and Programme of Action progress to the Social Wellbeing Board and Cabinet Social Wellbeing Committee.
  • Early 2020: Initial reporting on Child Poverty Related Indicators, alongside the Government Statistician's report on measures of child poverty.
  • April 2020: Evaluation strategy scope and evaluation plan finalised.
  • By July 2020: Central government social sector agencies aligned to the outcomes of the Strategy as reflected in their Statements of Intent, business planning documents, and funding decisions.
  • By August 2020 and ongoing: Website updates with progress on actions and new areas of work, including work with other sectors, resource library and profiles of community-led initiatives.
  • By September 2020: Policy priorities progressed with any proposals for Budget 2021 and medium-term policy work identified for possible inclusion in future programmes of action, drawing on analysis about what makes the biggest difference to child and youth wellbeing.
  • By late 2020-early 2021: Engagement with children and young people, their families and whānau on their vision for New Zealand's long-term future, the role of children and young people in creating this future, and what support they need to make it happen. It will also consider broader external and global factors and trends.

2021 onwards: Evaluating and refreshing the Strategy

  • By April 2021: First annual report on progress with the achievement of the Strategy outcomes is published. This will include data against the indicators with an analysis by socio-economic status, ethnicity and other key demographics. It will also include progress against actions.
  • By July 2021: All central government agencies aligned to the outcomes of the Strategy as reflected in their Statements of Intent, business planning documents and funding decisions.
  • September to December 2021: Broad public engagement to inform the review and refresh of the Strategy in 2022.
  • December 2021: First evaluation of the Strategy reported to Ministers.
  • Early 2022: First formal reporting on Child Poverty Related Indicators under the Child Poverty Reduction Act 2018, alongside the Government Statistician's report on measures of child poverty.
  • By August 2022: Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy reviewed/refreshed and published.
  • By December 2022: New cycle of engagement and building broader base of collective action.

 

Section E: Measuring & Reporting on Progress

Measuring & Reporting on Progress

Are the six outcomes measurable?

The Children's Act 2014 requires the Strategy to indicate the extent to which the Strategy's outcomes are measurable. To determine the measurability of the six outcomes, we reviewed:

  • local and international research on measuring wellbeing
  • a wide range of wellbeing measurement frameworks
  • a range of different data sources that collect information on children and young people's wellbeing.

We found that there are common measures that are often used to measure children's wellbeing. These include indicators like birth weight, suicide rates, mortality rates, immunisation rates, teenage pregnancy rates, obesity rates, physical activity levels, income levels, housing conditions and educational attainment. These are internationally comparable and there is a strong evidence base associated with them. The more common measures often have an emphasis on physical health, material wellbeing and educational attainment. Other aspects of outcomes in the Strategy, such as mental wellbeing, loving and nurturing homes, and culture and identity are less commonly captured in existing wellbeing frameworks.

We found that there are significant gaps in available data on children and young people.

  • There are not many data sources that regularly collect data (at least once a year) that are also nationally representative (that look at all children and young people, or at a sample of children and young people that is 'typical' of New Zealand). One-off data collections, cohort studies and surveys that are only collected every few years can tell us a lot about what is important for children and young people's wellbeing but aren't suitable for measuring the outcomes on an ongoing basis, or annually.
  • Very few existing surveys directly ask children and young people about their experiences of wellbeing. Many data sources are measures based on what children and young people have or do not have, that indirectly measure wellbeing through service use, or rely on an adult's assessment of children's wellbeing.
  • There are very few existing indicators of wellbeing available for the prenatal period through to about age 12, and most larger data collections start at age 15. There is little to no existing data for children under age 12 for three of the outcomes.
  • Many of the existing data sources include some sort of measure of socio-economic status, or a similar measure like school decile, however, the definitions vary significantly depending on the data source. Many of the existing data sources also include some ethnicity information, but other demographic details such as disability status or sexuality are less common.
  • There is a lot more deficit-based data than strengths-based data - that is, many of the existing indicators measure the presence or absence of harm or poor outcomes, rather than the presence or absence of wellbeing or desired outcomes.

How will the six outcomes be measured?

The Children's Act 2014 requires the Strategy to show how the outcomes will be measured, including by analysing outcome disparities for children in poverty and children with socio-economic disadvantage.

To determine the best way to measure the outcomes, we reviewed local and international research on measuring wellbeing, talked to a range of experts in child and youth wellbeing and in data and measurement, considered the nine guiding principles of the Strategy and the feedback received from the public consultation. From this, we identified a set of broad criteria to help narrow down the many existing measures of wellbeing to a set of 36 indicators. They will collectively measure the outcomes in the most direct and simplest way possible.

The criteria includes a preference for indicators that are statistically robust, regularly collected, strengths based, non-specific (that is, broadly informative), relevant and easily understood, applicable to all children and young people, internationally comparable, able to be disaggregated, culturally responsive, and aligned with the other government indicators and measurement frameworks to enable consistency and coherency across government.

Recognising that children and young people are the experts about their own wellbeing, we wanted to ensure that what they say is reflected in the indicators. This means what we measure also reflects the things children and young people told us were important to their wellbeing (things like feeling safe and the wellbeing of their family and whānau) and their experience of those things (asking children and young people directly wherever possible).

It is intended that the indicators will be refreshed at least once a year, as part of the legislative requirement for the responsible Minister to report to Parliament annually on progress against the outcomes in the Strategy.

Reporting will include an analysis by household income or socio-economic status[36] on each indicator, wherever data is available. The indicators will also include an analysis of the disparity of outcomes by ethnicity and other demographic variables, wherever data is available. Reporting may also draw on additional data sources and include additional measures to supplement the analysis.

Given the current limitations around data availability, we also expect that the indicators and measures will be built on and improved over time; some indicators may be added or replaced where better data and measurement methodology becomes available. There is work underway across government agencies that is focused on improving the quality of data or collecting new or different data on children and young people's wellbeing.

Child and Youth Wellbeing Indicators

Outcome: Children and young people are loved, safe and nurtured
Indicator Measure
Feeling loved Percentage of young people who feel that they are loved by the people who look after or care for them. Source: The Youth Health and Wellbeing Survey - 'WhatAboutMe?'
Feeling safe Percentage of young people who feel safe (at school, at home, at work, online, in the community, where they live). Source: The Youth Health and Wellbeing Survey - 'WhatAboutMe?'
Family/whānau wellbeing Percentage of young people rating their family as doing well. Source: The Youth Health and Wellbeing Survey - 'WhatAboutMe?'
Injury prevalence Number of serious injuries (fatal and non-fatal) per 100,000 children and young people. Source: Derived from administrative data.
Harm against children Number of children and young people with a report of concern to Oranga Tamariki requiring further action. Source: Derived from administrative data.
Quality time with parents Percentage of young people who feel that they get to spend enough time with the people who look after or care for them. Source: The Youth Health and Wellbeing Survey - 'WhatAboutMe?'
Outcome: Children and young people have what they need
Indicator Measure
Material wellbeing Percentage of children living in households experiencing good material wellbeing. Source: Household Economic Survey
Child poverty: Material hardship Percentage of children living in households experiencing material hardship. Source: Official Child Poverty Measure
Child poverty: Low income BHC 50 Percentage of children living in households with less than 50 percent median equivalised disposable household income before housing costs (BHC). Source: Official Child Poverty Measure
Child poverty: Low income AHC 50 Percentage of children living in households with less than 50 percent median equivalised disposable household income after housing costs (AHC). Source: Official Child Poverty Measure
Food insecurity* Percentage of children living in households where food runs out sometimes or often. Source: New Zealand Health Survey 2019/20 onwards
Housing quality* Percentage of children and young people living in households with a major problem with dampness or mould. Source: Household Economic Survey
Housing affordability* Percentage of children and young people living in households spending more than 30 percent of their disposable income on housing. Source: Household Economic Survey

*Note: Child Poverty Related Indicator.

Outcome: Children and young people are happy and healthy
Indicator Measure
Prenatal care Percentage of women who registered with a Lead Maternity Carer within the first trimester of pregnancy. Source: National Maternity Collection
Early exposure to toxins Percentage of women who registered with a Lead Maternity Carer smoking at registration and discharge. Source: National Maternity Collection
Subjective health status Percentage of young people reporting their health as good, very good, or excellent. Source: New Zealand Health Survey.
Preventable admissions to hospital* Rate of preventable admissions to hospital for children and young people. Source: Derived from administrative data.
Mental wellbeing Percentage of young people who experienced high or very high levels of psychological distress at some stage over a four-week period. Source: New Zealand Health Survey.
Self-harm and suicide Percentage of young people who have deliberately hurt themselves, seriously thought about, and/or attempted suicide in the last 12 months. Source: The Youth Health and Wellbeing Survey - 'WhatAboutMe?
Outcome: Children and young people are learning and developing
Indicator Measure
Participation in early learning Percentage of children attending early childhood education for 10 or more hours a week on average at age 3 and at age 4. Source: Derived from administrative data.
Regular school attendance* Percentage of children and young people who are regularly attending school. Source: School Attendance Survey
Literacy, numeracy, and science skills Percentage of 15 year-olds meeting the level 2 benchmark for reading, maths and science. Source: Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)
Social-emotional skills This measure is under development. Source: The Youth Health and Wellbeing Survey - 'WhatAboutMe?
Self-management skills This measure is under development. Source: The Youth Health and Wellbeing Survey - 'WhatAboutMe?
Youth participation in employment, education, or training Percentage of young people who are participating in education, training, or employment. Source: Household Labour Force Survey

*Note: child poverty related indicator.

Outcome: Children and young people are accepted, respected and connected
Indicator Measure
Ability to “be themselves” Percentage of young people who find it easy to express their identity. Source: The Youth Health and Wellbeing Survey - 'WhatAboutMe?'
Sense of belonging Percentage of young people who feel a sense of belonging to Aotearoa/New Zealand as a whole. Source: The Youth Health and Wellbeing Survey - 'WhatAboutMe?'
Experience of discrimination Percentage of young people who report experiencing discrimination in the previous 12 months. Source: The Youth Health and Wellbeing Survey - 'WhatAboutMe?'
Experience of bullying Percentage of young people who experienced bullying in the last 12 months. Source: The Youth Health and Wellbeing Survey - 'WhatAboutMe?'
Social support Percentage of young people who say they have an adult they could turn to if they were going through a difficult time and needed help. Source: The Youth Health and Wellbeing Survey - 'WhatAboutMe?'
Support for cultural identity Percentage of young people who have someone they can ask about their culture, whakapapa or ethnic group. Source: The Youth Health and Wellbeing Survey - 'WhatAboutMe?'
Languages Percentage of young people who can have a conversation in two or more languages. Source: The Youth Health and Wellbeing Survey - 'WhatAboutMe?'
Outcome: Children and young people are involved and empowered
Indicator Measure
Involvement in community Percentage of young people who report helping others in the neighbourhood or community (eg help out on the marae or at church, or belong to a volunteer organisation). Source: The Youth Health and Wellbeing Survey - 'WhatAboutMe?'
Representation of young people's voices Percentage of young people enrolled and voting in the New Zealand general election. Source: Derived from administrative data
Making positive choices Percentage of young people who are hazardous drinkers. Source: NZ Health Survey
Criminal offending Offending rates per 10,000 young people. Source: Derived from administrative data

Annual Report on Progress Against the Outcomes

The Children's Act 2014 requires the responsible Minister to prepare an annual report on achievement of the Strategy's outcomes. Before the report is finalised, the responsible Minister must consult the children's Ministers on a draft of the report.

The report must be presented to the House of Representatives and published online. It must include analysis of outcomes for Māori children and may also include analysis of other population groups if enough data is available.

The first report is due in early 2021. It will include data for each of the outcomes as well as monitoring and evaluation on the policies and actions set out in the first Strategy. Reporting on each indicator will include an analysis by household income or socio-economic status[37] wherever data is available. The indicators will also include an analysis of the disparity of outcomes by ethnicity and other demographic variables of significance, wherever data is available.

Evaluation of the Strategy

The Children's Act 2014 requires updates of the Strategy to indicate what policies the Government has implemented since the last iteration of the Strategy and any steps that the Government has taken to evaluate the effectiveness of those policies.[38] New policies that the Government intends to implement under this Strategy need to be systematically monitored and evaluated.

In addition to the monitoring and evaluation of individual initiatives in the Current Programme of Action, the Government is currently developing plans for the evaluation of the Strategy as a whole. This will seek to answer the following three research questions: Is the Strategy well designed and evidence-based? Has the Strategy been implemented as intended? Has it made a difference to the wellbeing of children and young people?

Child Poverty Reduction Act 2018

The Child Poverty Reduction Act 2018 requires the government of the day to set long-term (10-year) and intermediate (three-year) targets on a set of child poverty measures against which they must report annually.

There are four primary measures:

  • low income before housing costs (below 50 percent of median income, moving line)
  • low income after housing costs (below 50 percent of median income, fixed line)
  • a measure of material hardship (reflecting the proportion of children living in households with hardship rates below a standard threshold)
  • a measure of poverty persistence (currently being developed).

In early 2018, the Government announced its targets for the three primary measures for which data is available, and then it formally adopted these targets on 22 May 2019. These are:[39]

Primary measure Baseline rate 3-year target rate 10-year target rate
BHC 50 moving line 16% of children 10% of children 5% of children
AHC 50 fixed line 23% of children 19% of children 10% of children
Material hardship 13% of children 10% of children 6% of children

Under the Child Poverty Reduction Act 2018, the Minister must also identify one or more indicators related to the causes, correlates, and/or consequences of child poverty - 'Child Poverty Related Indicators'. Reporting on the Child Poverty Related Indicators is the responsibility of the Minister for Child Poverty Reduction, who must publish a dedicated 'monitoring report' for each financial year, alongside the report of the Government Statistician.

The Minister for Child Poverty Reduction has identified that a subset of the Child and Youth Wellbeing Indicators will be used as the first set of Child Poverty Related Indicators. These are:

  • Housing affordability. As measured by the percentage of children and young people living in households spending more than 30 percent of their disposable income on housing. Source: Household Economic Survey
  • Housing quality. As measured by the percentage of children and young people living in households with a major problem with dampness or mould. Source: Household Economic Survey
  • Food insecurity. As measured by the percentage of children and young people living in households where food runs out often or sometimes. Source: New Zealand Health Survey 2019/20 onwards
  • Preventable admissions to hospital. As measured by the rate of preventable admissions to hospital for children and young people. Source: Administrative data from Ministry of Health
  • Regular school attendance. As measured by the percentage of children and young people who are regularly attending school. Source: School Attendance Survey.

To strengthen the link with children in poverty, reporting on these indicators will be broken down by household income or socio-economic status. The Child Poverty Related Indicators monitoring reports will also likely include measures at different thresholds (moderate and severe food security; housing affordability at 30, 40 and 50 percent of income; irregular, moderate and chronic absence from school).

 

Endnotes

[1]Child Wellbeing Strategy: Scope and Public Engagement Process [SWC-18-SUB-0049 rec 6 refers.

[2] 'Applying the Science of Child Development in Child Welfare Systems', Centre of the Developing Child, Harvard University, 2016.

[3] Have your Say: Summary report - National engagement in New Zealand's first Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, 2019.

[4] What makes a Good Life - Children and Young People's Views on Wellbeing, Office of the Children's Commissioner and Oranga Tamariki, 2019.

[5] There are 17 Sustainable Development Goals spanning the social, economic, environment and governance contexts. The goals are to be implemented by 2030.

[6] The indicators for this category were: neonatal mortality (<4 weeks of age), suicide rates (0-19 years), mental health symptoms (11-15 years), drunkenness (11-15 years) and teenage fertility rates (15-19 years) although New Zealand data was not available for all measures.

[7] Note the report was limited by a lack of New Zealand data in some areas, notably poverty.

[8] For example, OECD, How's Life 2017 - Measuring Well-Being, 2017.

[9] See, for instance, the presentation by Professor Frank Oberklaid on 'Achieving sustained, integrated policy focus on children's health and development' (Australia): https://childaware.org.au/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2017/07/Professor-Frank-Oberklaid-OAM-presentation-Child-Aware-Approaches-Conference-2017.pdf

[10]2013 New Zealand Census.

[11]Seventy-three percent of Pacific peoples identify as Christians. Source: 2013 New Zealand Census.

[12]Includes people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, asexual, or other sex, gender, or sexuality diverse identities.

[13] Pacific models include Fonofale (1995), Seitapu (2007), Nga Vaka o Kāiga Tapu (2012), Va'aifetu (2015) and Tapasā (2018).

[14] Government is coordinating a programme of work to implement the rights set out in UNCROC, and respond to the 105 recommendations the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child made to the Government after its fifth periodic review.

[15]The multidimensional nature of wellbeing is articulated in the wellbeing frameworks and models described on page 22.

[16] The Children's Act 2014, s7(2), s7B.

[17]Or best proxy available; that is, the definition of socioeconomic status will vary depending on the data source.

[18]New Zealand compares relatively poorly to other developed countries on rates of injuries for children and young people, and on safety measures. See https://cpb-ap-se2.wpmucdn.com/blogs.auckland.ac.nz/dist/6/414/files/2018/11/Every-4-minutes-A-discussion-paper-on-preventing-family-violence-in-New-Zealand.-Lambie-report-8.11.18-x43nf4.pdf

[19] Statistics New Zealand, 'Child Poverty Statistics: Year ended June 2018', https://www.stats.govt.nz/news/child-poverty-statistics-released

[20] Perry, Bryan 'Household Incomes in New Zealand, Trends in Indicators of Inequality and Hardship 1982-2017', Ministry of Social Development, 2018, p. 158.

[21] Johnson, Alan; Howden-Chapman, Phillipa; Eaqub, Shamubeel, 'A Stocktake of New Zealand Housing', February 2018 pp. 38-40 https://www.beehive.govt.nz/sites/default/files/2018-02/A%20Stocktake%20Of%20New%20Zealand%27s%20Housing.pdf

[22] Perry, Bryan 'The Material Wellbeing of New Zealand households', Ministry of Social Development, 2018, p. 91.

[23]See for example, the evidence sources cited by Utter, Jennifer, et al, 'Rising Food Security Concerns Among New Zealand Adolescents and Association with Health and Wellbeing', Kōtuitui: New Zealand Journal of Social Sciences Online, 13:1, 2017, pp. 29-38.

[24]For example: 'Applying the Science of Child Development in Child Welfare Systems', Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, 2016.

[25] https://mentalhealth.inquiry.govt.nz/assets/Summary-reports/He-Ara-Oranga.pdf

[26] https://www.superu.govt.nz/sites/default/files/Journeys-of-resilience_0.pdf

[27] https://sportnz.org.nz/assets/Uploads/The-Value-of-Sport-Main-Report.pdf

[28] http://www.artshealthandwellbeing.org.uk/appg-inquiry/Briefings/ADPH.pdf

[29] For example, Māori medium secondary school students are more likely to stay in school until age 17, and more likely to have achieved NCEA Level 2 or above by the time they leave school than Māori students in English-medium secondary schools.

[30] http://www.occ.org.nz/publications/reports/education-matters-to-me-key-insights/

[31] The Wellbeing Budget, Budget 2019, The Treasury.

[32] Oranga Tamariki, Police, and the Ministries of Justice, Social Development, Health and Education.

[33]Neurodiversity encompasses a range of neurological differences including those labelled with dyspraxia, dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, dyscalculia, autistic spectrum, Tourette syndrome and others.

[34] Ireland's Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures - the national policy framework for children and young people (2014-2020), was the subject of mid-term review, published in March 2018. The United Kingdom's Every Child Matters (2003) was independently reviewed in 2009.

[35] Engaging all New Zealanders Benchmark Survey report, Oranga Tamariki, 2017.

[36] Or best proxy available; that is, the definition of socioeconomic status will vary depending on the data source.

[37] Or best proxy available; that is, the definition of socioeconomic status will vary depending on the data source.

[38] The Children's Act 2014, s7(2)(c).

[39] These targets have been rounded for communication purposes. The precise targets that have been gazetted under the Act are available here: https://dpmc.govt.nz/our-programmes/reducing-child-poverty/child-poverty-reduction-and-wellbeing-legislation/gazette

 

 

Last updated: 
Thursday, 29 August 2019