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National commits to giving all mothers a $3000 entitlement to use on health or social services and allowing parents to take paid parental leave at the same time

National commits to giving all mothers a $3000 entitlement to use on health or social services and allowing parents to take paid parental leave at the same time
Image sourced from Pixabay

National is pledging to give all mothers a $3000 entitlement to use on health and social services required during the first 1000 days of their child’s development, should it get into government. 

Mothers would be able to choose which approved services they spend the entitlement on, including additional paid parental leave, pre or postnatal parental education, midwife services, an extended postnatal stay, specialist health support, participation in parenting groups, extra early childhood education for siblings, additional support from the likes of Plunket , etc.

Mothers of the 10% of babies deemed the most high risk or high needs would be allocated $6000. These parents would also receive support from a specialist “navigator”, who would help the choose the most suitable services. 

Mothers wouldn’t receive cash. Rather they would receive a nominal funding amount against which they could commission services.

National is committing to introducing the package on top of the existing Best Start programme (a $60/week cash payment to parents), but notes this becomes means tested for children aged between one and three.

It says funding for its First 1000 Days package would be new, and is expected to cost taxpayers $192 million a year.

“This new funding, allocated per child rather than directly to service providers, will mean that parental demand will determine which services receive how much of the additional money,” National said in its policy document championed by its Social Investment spokesperson, Louise Upston.

“We believe this is a better way to allocate funds than it simply being up to Ministers to choose their preferred options. Organisations that are currently funded by the Government to provide services for the first 1,000 days would keep their existing baseline funding.”

A National-led government would identify “at risk” babies whose parents would receive $6000 of services by introducing a new “enhanced screening” system.

This would include pre and post-birth GP visits, and a revamped “B4 School” check for children age three to “identify developmental concerns and trigger early intervention services”.

Separately, National is committing to providing funding to enable all mothers to stay in hospital or at a birthing centre for three days after giving birth, should they wish.

It is pledging to allow parents to take paid parental leave at the same time should they choose to do so.

Paid parental leave is currently available for up to 26 weeks. This leave can be split between parents, but both parents can’t take their leave at the same time.

National is committing to introducing a “child passport” – an “enhanced version of the current Well Child/Tamariki Ora book with electronic record-keeping. This will record needs identified through screening and track progress to key physical, emotional, developmental and education milestones. It will be used to ensure that, where required, early action is taken to address issues or additional needs.”

And it would “establish a National Centre for Child Development – to be headquartered at one of our universities – which will bring together the best of child health, neuroscience and education research.

“The Centre will be tasked with improving best-practice throughout the system, and also with developing products and services that parents will be able to purchase with their additional, individualised funding allocations.”

Finally, National would “progressively lower the adult-to-child ratio at early childhood education centres looking after children who are under 2 years old”.

National leader Judith Collins said: The seven-part plan, which centres on National’s pioneering social investment approach, calls for greater and more targeted spending to create better human and economic returns in the long run and costs $226 million.

“Studies have shown that countries that fail to invest in the wellbeing of women and children during this crucial time will suffer worse economic results in the future, through lower productivity and higher health costs.

“Our package will give parents control and choice over the type of support they receive, regardless of their situation or parenting experience.”

Here is National's costings:

Here is a link to National's policy document.

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33 Comments

So left of center?

I was thinking the same thing.

Interesting given they were very reluctant to introduce any extensions to paid parental leave, previously. Seems those first 1000 days are especially important in election years.

Just don't call it socialism. Feathers will be ruffled.

Why are social rights mistaken by socialism by so many people?

I don't know. 'Socialism' is a subjective term used by many NZers whenever somebody gets a handout from the govt or when Ardern's name is mentioned.

What does socialism mean to you?

It's fine when it is universal. It's not socialism then.
Handouts are only bad when they are means tested, because the not poor miss out on something.

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Pushing more of their hard core voters to ACT. Wont make a dot with Green and Labour side. Bit of thrashing around going on here and really shows its just a dash and splash of cash to get votes no matter what. What do National stand for thats different from Labour? Putting out silly and juvenile memes/postings in the name of the leader?, get rid of all water regs by lunch time? - its like a kindergarten kids party lunch to be honest and very disappointing as we do need some serious debate and options.

Handouts are only bad when they are means tested, because the not poor miss out on something.

Sarc right? To me, socialism is about supporting those in need with a goal of achieving economic and social stability.

To the Newstalk ZB audience, there will be all kinds of wild and wacky interpretations of what it means.

very /sarc

Yeah, to the Newstalk ZB audience it appears to mean someone other than me receiving something.

The 'far-right' Orban government in Hungary has a great birth policy:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Family_policy_in_Hungary
Families get a one-off payment per child to go towards a home purchase, as well as preferential mortgage rates, tax breaks, extended parental leave and childcare allowances. Not sure encouraging and supporting families is a 'left' or 'right' thing.

Bribe.

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I was looking around my house this morning as I thought I smelt something a little dodgy.

After a futile search I realised it was the stench of desperation from the local National office that must have drifted in.

If you call National on this, what did you say about Labours last election effort?
Labour will be splashing the cash if this election starts to look shaky, so I hope you call that as well when / if it happens.

Defensive much?

Just because others have also had bad policies at other times doesn't make this stink less.

Labour supporters are fast to point out Nationals last efforts but turn a blind eye to the numerous failures of the last three years.

but turn a blind eye to the numerous failures of the last three years.

Are they? Or perhaps they acknowledge the failures, and still think a government that actually *tries* to fix problems is better than one that denies the problems exist. And also for the many successes and policies the government has pushed through, they prefer them on balance to whatever crap National would do.

It's weird to suggest that if someone's favourite country music musician puts out a new album that isn't entirely to their liking, that they should give up on that country artist and listen to some death metal instead.

"Or perhaps they acknowledge the failures, and still think a government that actually *tries* to fix problems is better than one that denies the problems exist"

This really crystallizes the difference between the two parties. The John Key era has left a bitter taste in many a mouth.

Goodness. I read the whole policy document and there is not one single footnote or reference to support the need or wisdom of any of these policy interventions.

The policy document seems to me to be an attempt to promote their social investment ideological approach; i.e., vouchers for services.

And given the ratio of monies allocated between the two "Enpowering parents funding" lines - where is the data that supports their assumption that only 10% of our newborns are from 'high needs' families?

This sounds like a clever idea to me. I'm a new parent so perhaps the challenges of this time are fresh in my mind, and $3000 worth of help to get your child going well, with more or less full control over where that goes would be a great help to anyone who is not well placed with money.

If you recognize that NZ children need help, and also recognize that NZ government is not convincing whenever a funding boost is announced for agency XYZ, you should be listening. This style of assistance where you have the power to choose the best help for your situation... seems damn clever.

SimonRo, as with most policy the devil is in the detail. Here are the services you could spend your $3,000 on;

Additional pre- or postnatal parental education
• Registration with Lead Maternity Carers
• Community midwife services
• Extended postnatal stay
• Specialist support including lactation consultants, sleep specialists and pelvic health practitioners
• Additional support from Well Child / Tamariki Ora providers like Plunket
• Home-based support to develop mothercraft skills
• Participation in parenting groups such as SPACE, Play Centre and Te Kōhanga Reo
• Additional paid parental leave
• More ECE hours for older siblings
• Home-based visits from health professionals

Which of them do you think you'd have chosen?

• Additional paid parental leave

100% this one.

That's definitely the one I'm sure most of the not 'high needs' folks would do with the $3,000. And why wouldn't you!

Labour already increased PPL to 26 weeks; and of course employers must hold the position open for 52 weeks. Labour also introduced the 'baby bonus' - a $3,000 a year boost (over three years for low/middle income families);

https://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/news/politics/labour-promises-60-a-week-bab...

I would like to see PPL split further across mother and father, with the father NOT able to transfer it to the mother.

OK. That paid parental leave would be hard to look past.
I see plenty of value in (and would consider for us) Participation in parenting groups, and specialist support (Sleep, lactation, physio?).

After a night's sleep (there was some) I can see better where other commenters have expressed that this policy puts National closer to none of their likely supporters. But I may try to explore more about the consequences of 'voucher' like policies such as this.

Cheers for the response - and hope you get another good night's sleep :-)! Enjoy - as they grow sooooooo fast.

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If National has sorted out the housing shambles, as they promised back in 2008, then they wouldn't have to do things like this.
Both major parties are basket cases.

In this regard, yes.

When the obvious elephant in the room are Job Seeker benefit levels. There is just so much assistance tack-on; add-on; supplement this-and-that living expense that it's becoming ridiculous. Just get the base-rate welfare assistance right and be done with all these 'feel-good' around-the-edges bits.

If in increasing Job Seeker benefits one wants to ensure/target the expenditure in the right areas through a voucher-type system - perfect.

I just don't see it being very hard to issue a social welfare debit card, topped up weekly that allowed for automatic transfer payments (for fixed costs such as mortgage/rent, internet/comms, electricity) to be deducted from it. The debit card cannot be used to purchase alcohol, cigarettes, soft drink, or takeaway foods and a maximum of $50/week can be used for cash withdrawals.

Wouldn't this address a swathe of social and health ills all in one go? Not the least being that in a cashless society there is no pokie and/or drug use.

And moreover, all transactions can be monitored. A bit 1984 but point is, desperate times are ahead. If it's state money, it needs to be monitored as we are all heading into hard times.

have they not already trailed that here? the downside was you ended up with having to pay more for some goods and services because you could only go to approved outlets
https://www.workandincome.govt.nz/on-a-benefit/payments/payment-cards.html
https://eveningreport.nz/2020/02/26/i-dont-want-anybody-to-see-me-using-...

Thanks, from the AUS article it seems all those problems should be easily remedied. The card should work anywhere any other bank issued debit card works - I'm not sure why one would limit expenditure to only certain outlets/retailers. The limitations for use/purchase ought to be able to be coded (i.e., no purchase of x if using y - i.e., a WINZ-issued bank card) at POS nationwide.

The NZ link is interesting as well - obviously we have the model in place, it would just need to be expanded to all welfare payments, and I'd put superannuitants into the same basket. So many receive the super but just bank it (or buy more stocks with it! They should be required to use the money for everyday expenses and spend their excess on stuff you normally spend excess on. I know of many a friend of mine that if the only way to spend their super was with a government issued card - they wouldn't bother. Again, my point is - it's going to get tough from here on and if it is state money/benefits we have to think smarter about the expenditure.

I doubt that it will really make any real difference.
Their primary objective will be to encourage more people to breed. It only applies to the first 1000 days. Most costs accrue when kids are older, so the more kids people have the poorer they will be. It is all designed to fuel the population growth ponzie economy. Most of the cash will go to landlords. Subsidies and benefits will never address the root problem; rather they just mask the symptoms and facilitate its continuing. The present Labour government is no better. The only way to increase familly well being is to build lots and lots of houses, push hard to keep reducing house construction costs and stop all wage suppressing immigration.

A very good Fathers' Day gift. I am voting National.

Why? They're not going to get to implement these policies. I'd also expect Labour to steal the 'both partners can use parental leave at the same time' policy - it's frankly a bit surprising they didn't do that already actually.

Days to the General Election: 21
See Party Policies here. Party Lists here.