North Shore teen mums 'too rich' for help

JESS ETHERIDGE
Last updated 05:00 22/01/2013
Teen mum
GRAHAME COX/Fairfax NZ
THREE STRIKES: Plans for a teen parent unit on Auckland's North Shore have been rejected for a third time.

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Schoolgirl mums on the North Shore have been denied help because the Ministry of Education thinks the area is too affluent, social workers say.

The ministry recently changed its policy for approving teen parent units and said it had no plans for a unit in the area. It was the third time in the past 10 years that plans for a unit on the North Shore had been scuppered.

The units are where teens go if they cannot attend a mainstream school because of parental responsibilities. Auckland has four of them.

Birkdale Community House co-ordinator Karen Jaggs-Cartwright said: ''The ministry has backed out several times over the years but we had never come as close as this.''

The group worked on the pilot with Glenfield College and Kaipatiki Community Facilities Trust.

''It remains unfair on teen parents on the North Shore not to have access to education as other teens do.
 
''Sometimes it seems that policymakers think that everyone on the North Shore is affluent and that we don't have any social issues here.''

Jaggs-Cartwright worries teen mothers will be stuck in a ''cycle of poverty''.

Kaipatiki Community Facilities Trust's Jill Nerheny has worked on the project for a decade.

''There isn't much more to say about the project other than how disappointed I am. Why is it that North Shore never makes the grade when others do?

''There is, after all, no difference between a young pregnant schoolgirl, either here or in any other part of the Auckland region. So all I want now is movement from the ministry.''

A ministry spokesman said the new process is so areas with high numbers of teen parents get support.

''The ministry currently has no confirmed plans to support the development of a teen parent unit in any areas, including the Kaipatiki area.''

Northcote MP Jonathan Coleman was told by Education Minister Hekia Parata's office it had Kaipatiki on a priority list.

But it is not a done deal as Kaipatiki will be measured against other high-need areas.

A decision on funding is due in three weeks, he said.

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- North Shore Times

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