The Office of the Childrens Commissioner published another report on child poverty today – “Solutions to Child Poverty in New Zealand – Issues and Options Paper for Consultation”. It rightly points out the major problem we have in this country with child poverty, and no doubt has some useful ideas.
However it continues to ignore one of the major contributors to the growth of child poverty – family breakdown. It notes on page 1 that ” Children in sole-parent families experience significantly higher poverty rates than those in two-parent families (56 percent and 13 percent respectively in 2011)”. But it ignores this obvious policy target in its approach to solutions.
Instead we get references to the UN Convention on the rights of the child, the Treaty of Waitangi, and “the complex, multi-faceted nature of child poverty, and the need for an integrated and comprehensive package of measures if solutions are to be effective”
What about measures to rebuild strong family life ? How about policy that affirms the institution of marriage which evidence clearly shows provides better outcomes in terms of family resilience and economic security. When children have both a mum and a dad they are far more likely to have an earner in the household, rather than just one parent struggling on welfare.
The debate on child poverty is not new. Fifteen years ago I contributed to the NZ Herald on the topic (refer Poverty: it’s not a lack of jobs, it’s a lack of fathers). So many years on and we are still ignoring the obvious.