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Young mums denied help

JESS ETHERIDGE
Last updated 05:00 22/01/2013
Jill Nerheny
JESS ETHERIDGE
CONCERN FOR TEENS: Kaipatiki Community Facilities Trust senior co-ordinator Jill Nerheny is disappointed a Teen Parent Unit for the area has been stalled again.

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

The ministry changed its policy for approving Teen Parent Units, delaying the one on the Shore for the third time in a decade.

TPUs 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 says: "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."

Ms 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 rather 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 says 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, he says, as Kaipatiki will be measured against other high-need areas.

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

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- North Shore Times

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