NitBusters programme a 'band aid' solution

FLORENCE KERR
Last updated 07:15 10/05/2014

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A new initiative to combat nits in low decile schools is a "waste of time", says the Waikato Principals' Association's chairman.

John Coulam is critical of KidsCan and the Ministry of Social Development's new initiative - a war on nits.

Educating families about nits and lice was the best way to combat them and giving treatment at school would not stop re-infestation at home, he said.

"It's about educating the family. If they can't do that they might as well tell the whole whanau to come in and get their hair checked and washed and bring your washing in at the same time and we'll do that, too."

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett approved a grant of more than $900,000 to fund the rollout of the treatment initiative to 117 low decile schools nationwide. Under the programme, a treatment chair and basin will be installed in each participating school, and KidsCan will employ local people in need of jobs to become KidsCan NitBusters.

The KidsCan NitBusters will regularly visit assigned schools in their areas to treat children on site with the help of parents and volunteers.

Coulam said the ongoing reliance on schools to provide functions that should be performed at home was the big issue, and the Government funding it was a "band-aid" solution.

"Just treating children's hair at school is not going to break the cycle of infestation. What's required is a whole education process. What are they going to do next? Put washing machines in schools?"

KidsCan chief executive Julie Chapman said facilities and education about how to get rid of infestations was part of the NitBuster programme.

"The funding we've received from the ministry will give us the ability to provide treatment to the children that go to the school . . . The whanau [can] come into the school to use the facilities if they want, too, or have NitBusters help with education on how to treat it better in the home and a provision of products to treat the whole family."

The programme will be rolled out in the South Waikato in August.

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