The National Government is removing critical frontline support for families who are struggling, the Green Party said today.
The Ministry of Social Development is cancelling more than a quarter of Strengthening Families contracts and reallocating funding to unproven Children's Teams. Both programmes bring agencies together to work with a family, but the Children’s Teams work with a narrower range of children than Strengthening Families.
“Strengthening Families was able to help families before they got to a most desperate place and that’s where we need to be giving a helping hand,” Green Party Social Welfare spokesperson Jan Logie said today.
“The Ministry of Social Development has admitted that the threshold for Children’s Teams is higher than for Strengthening Families – children have to be in severe distress before they are referred to the Children’s Teams.
“By shifting funding to Children’s Teams, the Government is moving the ambulance even further down the cliff.
“It’s particularly concerning because there’s no research to say that Children’s Teams are working better than Strengthening Families.
“It’s unbelievable that the Government would play with people’s lives like this by removing a service that is helping so much before they have any evidence to do so.
“We know many of our community agencies are struggling to keep up with demand at the moment. It’s not enough just to change the model – the Government should fully resource organisations to do the work to help families in need.
“Community organisations like Strengthening Families are an essential part of ensuring easy access to family support and building connected communities.
“Every time the Government tampers with these kinds of organisations, vulnerable New Zealanders suffer,” said Ms Logie.