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Press Releases

News from the field of Child and Youth Care

16 AUGUST

Scotland: Giving every child the best start in life, whatever their background

Parents of all babies due from Tuesday are set to receive a box filled with the very essential items mums and dads need to look after their newborns.

And while some have dismissed the Baby Box as just a nice gift for every new baby, it doesn’t just come with the best wishes of this government – it has a much more important purpose.

It is part of a series of actions this government is taking to ensure Scotland really is the best place to grow up.

That it is available to every child sends a hugely important message that all children should have the best start in life, no matter their background, and that we will support all children and parents who need our help.

Providing a box only to those on lower incomes would brand our babies with the stigma of poverty from their earliest days. That’s not the kind of society we want to be. So our Baby Box is universal.

Parents need to register for a Baby Box through their midwife, so the scheme also encourages the link with ante-natal services, promoting health and wellbeing for parents and babies and providing support for breastfeeding.

Scotland’s Baby Box has been designed by health experts who have advised on the materials to make sure they contain the items parents and babies need for their first six months. It has been tested in two pilot areas with parents whose feedback has helped to ensure parents and babies receive items that have the most impact. Items in the box include a bath and a room thermometer so families know their baby isn’t too hot or too cold, a baby wrap to promote vital skin to skin contact and a play mat and books to encourage parents in supporting their child’s early development.

Our boxes have been awarded British Safety Standard accreditation as cribs and come with guidance on how to use them as a safe sleeping place for children.

The beauty of the box though is that what goes in it will change as time goes on. We will continue to work with mums, dads and health professionals to see what else could be provided in the future.

And the Baby Box is just one part of a number of actions we are taking to support new and expectant parents and their children. Alongside the box we are expanding Family Nurse Partnerships and providing 50 per cent more health visitors – 500 in total –by the end of next year to provide intensive support to families who need it.

We are fundamentally improving and reshaping the way we deliver maternity and neonatal care, following our review of maternity and neonatal services to truly put the mother, baby and family at the centre of service planning and delivery.

From April this year all pregnant women in Scotland have had access to free vitamins to help them and their baby stay healthy and we’re increasing maternity grants – the Best Start grant – to provide additional support during those crucial first months and at key points in a young child’s development.

Every parent wants the best for their kids and evidence shows that the first few years of every child’s life is crucial – between birth and three years old is when there is the greatest opportunity for mum and dads to shape how their babies will grow and the types of people they will become.

I want to make sure we do all we can to support new mums and dads – whatever their background – through those first few, unfamiliar months of parenthood and give every child in Scotland the best start in life, whatever their background.

By Nicola Sturgeon

13 August 2017

https://www.snp.org/giving_every_child_the_best_start_in_life_whatever_their_background

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14 AUGUST

NEW ZEALAND

School leavers’ toolkit to equip young people for adult life

Labour will give school leavers the practical skills and knowledge they need for adult life with a new School Leavers’ Toolkit, says Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern.

“Our teachers and schools do a great job of teaching our children core knowledge and learning skills. Our education system is one of the best in the world.

“However, the Future of Work Commission identified the need to do better in giving young people the practical skills that they need, in the workplace, in their day- to-day lives, and as members of the community. Businesses say they need young workers with these skills.

“Having a driving licence so you can get to work, knowing how to fit into a workplace, knowing how to manage your money, and knowing how to take your place in the community – these are all important skills in adult life, and we need to do more to ensure our young people are equipped with them.

“Labour’s School Leavers’ Toolkit will help students learn to drive, understand practical budgeting, be equipped with workplace skills, and learn how our political system operates through civics education at school. Every secondary school will be resourced to provide these courses.

“Some schools, iwi, and community groups provide this kind of education alongside the core curriculum with great results, but the approach is ad hoc and varies across the country. Labour will ensure the toolkit is available for all students.

“Our young people need a world-leading education, and the skills to live in the real world. Labour will ensure they have both. Let’s do this,” says Jacinda Ardern.

14 August 2017

Press Release: New Zealand Labour Party

http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA1708/S00265/school-leavers-toolkit-to-equip-young-people-for-adult-life.htm

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10 AUGUST

IRELAND

Training, expert advice and sensory toys to make childcare accessible to all

Créches, pre-schools and childcare centres are to receive extra support to open up their services to children with disabilities.

The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone, is confirming that resource packs will be developed which will offer centres special instruction manuals, sensory toys as well as the support of a team of experts.

Up to €4m in funding will be provided to ensure that 6,200 packs are distributed across the country.

Minister Zappone is inviting proposals to develop and distribute the packs which must include equipment and materials:

“A childcare system which truly delivers for families must be accessible to all.

Last year I was proud to unveil the new Access Inclusion Model (AIM) which supports the participation of children with disabilities in free pre-school education. Now we are building further on that work by providing special resource packs to every pre-school provider in the country.

In addition to information and advice from experts each provider will also receive sensory toys which will ensure that every child has access to play. This is in line with best international practice and the huge body of research showing play is vital for a child’s development.

I want children to benefit as soon as possible. We are now accepting proposals to provide the packs with a decision due in October and packs in services by the end of the year.

This is another important step as we transform our childcare system from being one of the most expensive in the world into one of the best.”

9 August 2017

Statement by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone 

https://www.dcya.gov.ie/viewdoc.asp?Docid=4366&CatID=11&mn=&StartDate=1+January+2017

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8 AUGUST

AUSTRALIA

Building a modern youth justice system

The Andrews Labor Government is building a strong and stable youth justice system by recruiting more staff, providing better training and offering more targeted programs to reduce the risk of re-offending.

The Labor Government today released the first comprehensive independent review of Victoria’s youth justice system in 17 years to help strengthen and modernise Victoria’s youth justice system.

Commissioned in mid-2016, the review – Meeting needs and reducing offending: Youth Justice review and strategy – is part of the government’s work to reform Victoria’s youth justice system for the future.

Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos today announced an initial investment of $50 million over four years to respond to the review’s priority recommendations.

The Government accepts or accepts in principle all of the review’s 126 recommendations. The initial investment will directly address 42 of the recommendations, with work on another 63 already underway.

The investment will support:

• A new custodial operating model to better manage young people in custody
• Greater workforce capability by providing better training and a targeted recruitment campaign
• 21 additional Safety and Emergency Response Team (SERT) staff
• A new risk and needs assessment system to reduce the risk of re-offending
• Addressing Aboriginal over-representation by employing an additional Aboriginal Liaison Officer

The review builds on legislation to toughen consequences for young offenders and our record investment in youth justice, including a new fit-for-purpose youth justice facility to be built at Cherry Creek.

Ms Mikakos thanked the expert reviewers: Penny Armytage – former Corrections Commissioner and former Secretary of the Department of Justice and Regulation – and Professor James Ogloff AM who is Director of the Centre for Forensic Behavioural Science at Swinburne University and Forensicare.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos

“This is the first comprehensive review of Victoria’s youth justice system in 17 years. It will help us build a stronger and more effective system – after four years of neglect by the former Liberal Government.”

“This investment will make our community safer by reducing recidivism, strengthening our facilities and establishing programs that work, delivered by a better equipped workforce.”

5 August 2017

Minister for Families and Children

http://www.premier.vic.gov.au/building-a-modern-youth-justice-system/

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4 AUGUST

New Zealand: Elephant still in the room 10 years on from Nia Glassie

Family First NZ says that 10 years on from the horrific death of little Nia Glassie which shocked the nation (3 August 2007), there has been little change or improvement in child abuse statistics because we haven’t tackled the ‘elephant in the room’ – family structure, and the growth of child abuse which has accompanied a reduction in marriage rates and an increase in cohabiting and single-parent families.

“As our recent report on child abuse revealed, there are certain family structures in which children will be far more vulnerable. Suspension of fact is an abrogation of our collective responsibility to children. Children being raised by their married biological parents are by far the safest from violence – and so too are the adults. Until we recognise and develop policies around this issue, we will continue to see the shameful and tragic cases of Nia Glassie and Moko and many others in our courts,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

Our stats on child abuse make depressing reading. Police stats show there has been a 136% increase in physical abuse, 43% increase in sexual abuse, 45% increase in neglect or ill-treatment of children, and 71 child abuse deaths since 2007, when the anti-smacking law was passed. CYF have had more than one million notifications of abuse and there has been a 42% increase in physical abuse found since 2007. And health data reveals a 132% increase in children diagnosed with emotional and/or behavioural problems and a 71% increase in children hospitalised with mental and behavioural disorders since 2007.

“The research results are disturbing, but not surprising. The fact that so many social indicators around the welfare of children continue to worsen proves that we simply are not tackling the real causes of child abuse,” says Mr McCoskrie.

“Our report quotes government statistics which reveal that over three quarters of children born in 2010 who had a substantiated finding of abuse by age two were born into single-parent families. The likelihood of abuse in this family type is almost nine times greater than in a non-single parent family.”

The report “Child Abuse and Family Structure: What is the evidence telling us?” examined child abuse rates and changes in family structure from the early 1960s through to current day, and concluded:

• For the last fifty years, families that feature ex-nuptial births, have one or both parents absent, large numbers of siblings (especially from clustered or multiple births) and/or very young mothers have been consistently over-represented in the incidence of child abuse – similar to overseas data.

• Maori and Pacific families exhibit more of these features and have appeared disproportionately in child maltreatment statistics since earliest data analysis in 1967.

• The risk of abuse for children whose parent / caregiver had spent more than 80% of the last five years on a benefit was 38 times greater than for those with no benefit history. Most children included in a benefit appear with a single parent or caregiver.

• The high rates of single, step or blended families among Maori present a much more compelling reason for disproportionate child abuse incidence than either colonisation or unemployment, but like non-Maori, Maori children with two-parent working families have very low abuse rates.

• Asian children have disproportionately low rates of child abuse. The Asian population has the lowest proportion of single-parent families.

• The presence of biological fathers matters. Generally, it protects children from child abuse. Marriage presents the greatest likelihood that the father will remain part of an intact family.

• Compared to married parents, cohabiting parents are 4-5 times more likely to separate by the time their child is aged 5. Overseas data also shows a greater likelihood of child abuse in cohabiting families.

Family First NZ is calling on politicians and policymakers to develop policies which support marriage – including free counselling, income-splitting, removal of the marriage tax penalty, tax incentives for stable marriages – and promoting the strong formation of families and preventing the breakdown of families.

“Whenever marriage is promoted, it has often been labelled as an attack on solo or divorced parents, and that has kept us from recognising the qualitative benefits of marriage which have been discovered from decades of research. In virtually every category that social science has measured, children and adults do better when parents get married and stay married – provided there is no presence of high conflict or violence. This is not a criticism of solo parents. It simply acknowledges the benefits of the institution of marriage,” says Mr McCoskrie.

“Governments should focus on, and encourage and support what works. Our children deserve this investment in their safety and protection. Then, and only then, can we can remove the label ‘vulnerable children’ and see the end to cases like Nia Glassie.”

3 August 2017

Source: Family First

http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1708/S00063/elephant-still-in-the-room-10-years-on-from-nia-glassie.htm

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2 AUGUST

IRELAND

€4m in capital funding to be made available for community youth groups

Statement by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone

More than 1,500 community youth groups are set to benefit from a €4m capital fund being established by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone.

Minister Zappone is confirming that the money is being made available to allow clubs buy equipment which will support their work with young people.

Announcing the establishment of the fund, Minister Katherine Zappone added:

“Reversing the cuts of recent years for youth services is a priority for me – and this year we took a big step forward with current funding increasing by 10% to €57m. However more must be done. Today (Monday 31st July) I can confirm that money is now being made available to community based youth clubs with the establishment of a €4m capital fund.

The impact will be significant. Over 1,500 volunteer led clubs will be eligible to apply, reaching practically every community in the country. I encourage clubs to examine which sports, arts, adventure or other equipment they need the most and be ready to apply. This is an opportunity to offer our young people opportunities for creativity, recreation and adventure.

These volunteer led youth clubs translate our policies into reality on the ground. They are in the frontline providing young people with indoor and outdoor activities to prevent them falling into trouble. They also improve health, wellbeing and build team spirit.

The value of this work must never be under-estimated. It turns our policies to tackle anti-social behaviour, underage drinking and drug abuse as well as anti-obesity plans into reality. It is worthy of Government support.

The Application process for the funding is expected to open in late September. My officials will work with the local Education and Training Boards to ensure that the money can be delivered to successful applicants as soon as possible and turned into action on the ground."

31 July 2017

Department of Children and Youth Affairs

https://www.dcya.gov.ie/viewdoc.asp?DocID=4356

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