Better Public Services: Supporting vulnerable children
Why are these important for New Zealand?
We know there is a link between early childhood experiences and adult mental health, drug and alcohol abuse, poor educational outcomes and unemployment. Too many children are at risk of poor outcomes because they do not get the early support they need.
The human and financial costs of not facing up to these challenges are too high. We know that remedial spending is often less effective, and more costly, than getting it right the first time. For example, treating rheumatic fever alone costs an estimated $40 million a year in New Zealand.
Early intervention brings benefits in terms of reduced imprisonment and arrest rates, higher employment and higher earnings later in life. By doing better for vulnerable children, we could set them on a pathway to a positive future, and help build a more productive and competitive economy for all New Zealanders
How will we know we are achieving these results?
The Government’s targets for supporting vulnerable children:
Result 2: Increase participation in early childhood education
VIDEO: Community Innovations in Early Childhood Education
In 2016, 98% of children starting school will have participated in quality early childhood education.
The percentage of children who have attended ECE before starting school has steadily increased each year since 2000, and reached 95.8% as at September 2013. This was an increase of 0.7 percentage points since September 2012.
1,640 more children participated in ECE before starting school in the year to September 2013.
Maintaining the current rate of growth will enable us to meet the 98% goal for all children in 2016.
VIDEO: Ngati Whakaue Rotorua
VIDEO: Early Learning Taskforce - Wairoa/Kaikohe
Case Studies Result 2
Result 3: Infant immunisation
Increase infant immunisation rates so that 95 percent of eight-month-olds are fully immunised by December 2014 and this is maintained through to 30 June 2017.
As at 30 June 2013, 90 percent of eight-month-olds nationally had completed scheduled vaccinations.
VIDEO: Increase infant immunisation rates
Case Studies Result 3 - Immunisation
Result 3: Rheumatic fever
Reduce the incidence of rheumatic fever by two thirds to 1.4 cases per 100,000 people by June 2017.
In 2012, the incidence of rheumatic fever was 3.9 cases per 100,000 people – a total of 171 people were admitted to hospital for rheumatic fever. This is down from a rate of 4.2 cases per 100,000 in 2011. About 90 percent of cases occur in children aged between 5 and 19 years of age. The rheumatic fever target of a reduction to 1.4 cases per 100,000 by 2017 is a stretch goal, as illustrated in Figure 2 below (the dotted line from 2011 shows the projected rate).
Case Study Result 3 - Rheumatic fever
Result 4: Assaults on children
By 2017, we aim to halt the 10-year rise in children experiencing physical abuse and reduce current numbers by 5%.
This is extremely ambitious. Numbers are rising, and projected to rise further without intervention. Meeting this 5% target means bringing the projected number of 4,000 children expected to experience substantiated physical abuse down by 1,064 to 2,936 in 2017, which is a reduction of 25% in projected numbers.
We also expect that actions taken through the White Paper for Vulnerable Children may increase reporting of child assaults by raising awareness of child abuse. In the short term, however, it means that substantiated findings/cases of physical abuse against children is likely to increase above that forecast. The number of children experiencing substantiated physical abuse is measured on a yearly basis for the year to June. In the year to June 2013, physical abuse was substantiated for 3,031 children, compared to the 3,108 in the year to June 2012.
Figure 1: The number of children who experienced substantiated physical abuse each year, up to June 2013.
Case Studies Result 4
What are we doing to achieve these results?
To increase participation in early childhood education, we propose to:
better enable providers to engage hard-to-reach children
change funding policies to encourage participation
gain support from schools to find and engage children under six years of age
target intervention where participation is very low.
To increase infant immunisation, we propose to:
support every pregnant woman to have a named GP before birth
ensure every baby is registered with a GP before they are two-weeks-old
pre-call infants for their six-week immunisation when they are four-weeks-old and promptly recall infants who are not up-to-date with immunisations
better join up two services for families – Well Child/Tamariki Ora and Family Start.
To help prevent rheumatic fever, we propose to:
provide rapid assessment and treatment of sore throats to children at high risk
raise community and health sector awareness of the disease
improve the housing conditions of at-risk families
improve knowledge of rheumatic fever through surveillance and research
Actions to reduce the number of assaults on children will be implemented through the Children's Action Plan, which will deliver the solutions outlined in the Government's White Paper for Vulnerable Children, which was released in October 2012. These actions will include:
better screening children for vulnerability
fully assessing the needs of vulnerable children
better enabling frontline workers and communities to communicate concerns about children
making services more focused on results.
The supporting vulnerable children results area action plan outlines how agencies will work together on three results to support vulnerable children. It includes specific actions to increase participation in early childhood education, increase infant immunisation rates and decrease the incidence of rheumatic fever and reduce the number of assaults on children. In addition, it identifies a group of common actions for agencies to progress. These are:
better information sharing to identify and understand who our vulnerable children are and how we can help them
better targeted and integrated services
ensuring that government funding gets results
working together better at the frontline.
Read the Supporting Vulnerable Children Results Action Plan at: www.msd.govt.nz/about-msd-and-our-work/work-programmes/better-public-services/supporting-vulnerable-children/index.html.