by Metiria Turei
A good start for all Kiwi kids is a can do.
KidsCan is once more stepping into the breach left by the Government and trying to plug gaps to help our most vulnerable children get a good start in life.
The charity, which has led the charge on food in schools, is now looking at plugging holes in the health services for the schools of families with the least money.
The New Zealand Herald today reported that KidsCan intend to use some of its funding to work with other agencies to improve access to public health care.
They gave the example of Papakura’s Kelvin Rd School, a school where low income parents are really struggling to make ends meet. These most vulnerable kids were missed out of a rheumatic fever checking campaign and have only had one visit from a public health nurse this year.
Our children’s health shouldn’t be down to the luck of the draw. At present some kids at some schools are getting properly monitored and cared for while others appear to be falling between the cracks.
There are not enough public health nurses serving schools with high-risk kids. These kids end up being hospitalised, at great public cost, for conditions that should have been picked up far earlier.
The Green Party will step up to the challenges that groups like KidsCan are highlighting. We see schools as the beating heart of communities which can be used to pump services and assistance out to families that need it.
School can be the hub of their communities, where teachers and principals can focus on their expertise – delivering a great education to our kids – while others assist with community services, such as food in schools, school community gardens, adult education and health services on site.
These kids need a Government willing to invest in them. It’s far more cost-effective long-term to put some money in to create conditions where young people can learn and thrive than to deal with the consequences if we don’t.