Govt launches plan for vulnerable children

KATE CHAPMAN
Last updated 11:53 22/08/2012

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Schools will be asked to identify younger siblings who should be in early childhood education as part of a drive to identify vulnerable children.

The Government's Supporting Vulnerable Children Result Action plan was launched at Parliament today.

It outlines how public services will be required to improve their work with vulnerable children.

As well as pre-announced key policies such as increasing immunisation rates, reducing rheumatic fever rates, increasing participation in early childhood education and reducing assaults on children, the policy included specific public sector changes.

Agencies will share "sensible" information, an early learning information system will collect enrolment information, schools will have to recommend younger siblings who should be in early education and providers will be given incentives for early childhood education services that enrol, and retain, vulnerable children.

Education Minister Hekia Parata said early intervention had huge benefits.

"The human and financial costs of not facing up to these challenges are too high."

Health Minister Tony Ryall said the plan would mean government departments could be held accountable.

The action plan was closely linked to the Government's White Paper for vulnerable children which is due to be released in October.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said the work behind the paper was substantial.

Ryall said this was driving change in the public service sector.

The targets are:

* 98 per cent of children participating in early childhood education by 2016;

* Rheumatic fever rates reduced by two-thirds by 2017;

* 95 per cent of eight-month-olds fully immunised by 2014 and maintained until 2017;

* Reduce child abuse by 5 per cent by 2017.

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