14 Aug 2011

NZ must do better for children, report says

10:19 pm on 14 August 2011

A new report says the Government does not spend enough money on children, and that the country will suffer as a result.

The report was commissioned by child advocacy coalition Every Child Counts.

Its author, Infometrics economist David Grimmond, says New Zealand has one of the lowest rates of spending on children in the OECD, at $3 billion dollars annually.

The report says outcomes in areas such as health and education for New Zealand children are almost twice as bad as those for children in Denmark, the country with the highest ranking.

New Zealand ranked 28th out of 30 countries using Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development data on international performance across 20 different aspects of childrens lives.

Mr Grimmond says factors such as deprivation, inadequate housing, poor parenting and exposure to violence have greater and long-term costs.

The report suggests the Government create programmes focusing on the first 1000 days of a child's life - the period that experts say is the most important for children's development.

One of the organisations in Every Child Counts is UNICEF, whose executive director Dennis McKinlay says the lack of spending on children at an early age brings costs later on.

He points to high levels of youth unemployment and youth suicide.