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Teen mums get help

JESS ETHERIDGE
Last updated 05:00 31/01/2013
Jill Nerheny
RELIEVED: Jill Nerheny says the North Shore Times story helped.

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Teen mums on the North Shore will finally get help from the Ministry of Education.

Despite the ministry claiming a decision was due in three weeks, the Kaipatiki Teen Parent Unit was approved the day after the North Shore Times reported on it.

A spokesperson for the ministry confirms the unit's approval is based on the number of teen parents, classroom availability and community support.

Kaipatiki Community Facilities Trust senior co-ordinator Jill Nerheny has worked on the project for more than a decade.

"I hope it's true this time," she says after hearing the news.

Mrs Nerheny believes the North Shore Times story was the catalyst.

The ministry changed its policy late last year for approving teen parent units, delaying the Shore TPU 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 told the North Shore Times: "Sometimes it seems that policymakers think that everyone on the North Shore is affluent and that we don't have any social issues here."

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

Kaipatiki Local Board chairwoman Lindsay Waugh says: "I'm thrilled that after all this hard work we got sign off."

Helping young mums is top priority, she says.

The TPU will be operational within three months, Mrs Nerheny hopes.

Northcote MP Jonathan Coleman acknowledges the hard work by project supporters and is "pleased the government has delivered".

"I support the unit because it's a positive and practical solution to help young mothers keep their access to education and allow them to create future opportunity for themselves and child," he says.

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