“Trend monitoring has seen extensive investment over decades but this has not resulted in change because it is only part of the picture,” says Dr Susan Morton who directs Growing up in New Zealand, a longitudinal study tracking 6,800 children from the womb to age 21.
Dr Morton says monitoring child poverty, identifying and discussing the inequalities seen in New Zealand society are an important part of the picture, but alone will not deliver the changes that are needed for our families today.
“Combining the ‘what?’ of the poverty monitor with ‘what works for our family’ information from Growing up in New Zealand will provide a richer picture, and evidence for action to help government deliver real change for families, particularly those mired in poverty,” says Dr Morton.
“The government invested in Growing up in New Zealand to get a better understanding of the complex interplay of factors in child development. Our study shows one in three children has a parent born overseas. Forty percent of children attend school in the three most deprived deciles. One in two families live in rental housing. Forty per cent of these children were not planned, which has implications around drinking, smoking, income, employment and housing.”
Dr Morton says this diversity, which is confirmed by last week’s Census results, offers government critical information on which to plan social, health and wellbeing policies, and to make sure that these plans build on what is working and how our families themselves say they need to be supported.
The University of Auckland