Kiwi pre-schoolers ‘fainting from hunger’

Dramatic claims of neglect of children, but key questions aren’t asked let alone answered.

Newshub:  Kiwi pre-schoolers fainting from hunger, charity claims

A charity supporting vulnerable schoolchildren is now expanding its services to pre-schoolers.

KidsCan is launching a nationwide programme to provide food and clothing for under-fives.

Chief executive Julie Chapman says it is a major problem.

“We have reports of children fainting from hunger, young babies coming in without formula or nappies.”

That sound bad, and probably is bad, but how bad? Are they isolated examples, or common examples?

The latest programme was trialled in Northland, Auckland and Hawke’s Bay last year. Ms Chapman says it will reach around 2000 people, once it reaches its funding target.

“That covers right now around 1000 children, and our aim is to expand that to cover another 1000 kids. We really need caring Kiwis to get on board.”

Are ‘caring Kiwis’ the appropriate target here. What about the parents who aren’t caring for their children adequately. Some care at the bottom of the cliff may be warranted, but the causes should be addressed.

She says the charity is responding to a high demand for help.

“We’ve been contacted by so many early childhood centres that have a huge need for their children in terms of clothing, head line treatment and food.”

KidsCan already operates in more than 700 schools across the country, providing food, clothing and supplies.

The Children’s Commissioner estimates around 290,000 Kiwi kids live in low-income families, and nearly half of those miss out on basic necessary items.

What is defined as “basic necessary items” for 100,000 children is quite different to pre-schoolers fainting from hunger. How many children are that poorly fed? I would be surprised if ten children have actually fainted from hunger at a pre-school.

“Every child deserves the best start in life and to grow up and reach their potential free of the burden of poverty,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said last year at the release of the 2017 Child Poverty Monitor report, which contained the shocking figures.

I’m sure there are shocking cases of neglect, but implying this affects hundreds of thousands of children is disingenuous.

As opposed to vague anecdotal claims, what are the facts?

How many children are there who are really deprived and neglected?

What are the reasons for this deprivation and neglect?

What can best be done to address this?

Perhaps these things are known, but more dramatic but vague and generalised claims suit public appeals for sympathy and money.

I think these problems should be properly quantified, and resources should then concentrate on targeting them.

On canning Kidscan funding

RNZ: KidsCan may lose govt funding: ‘Children will go hungry’

The charity, which has been in operation for 12 years, provides food, clothing and healthcare to 168,000 children across 700 New Zealand schools.

Executive Julie Chapman told Checkpoint with John Campbell she was told last week by Oranga Tamariki / Ministry for Children that it would lose its government funding – $350,000 worth – on 1 July next year.

KidsCan favours targeting the 1 in 11 hungry kids

David Shearer has announced Labour policy”to get free food into all decile 1 to 3 schools”. The charity KidsCan supports this but favours business, the community and government working together and targeting the most needy children.

A children’s charity supports Labour leader David Shearer’s policy to give free daily meals to all children in low decile schools, but believes a targeted approach to supporting the most needy children should be the key focus.

KidsCan Charitable Trust said it supported business, the community and government working together to address the issue of children going to school hungry.

KidsCan chief executive Julie Chapman said there was a responsibility to ensure the most vulnerable children were receiving the basics they needed to get to and through the school gates in a position to learn.

“Schools and teachers have enough to do without worrying about where they will get the funding to continue to provide food on an ongoing basis for children who are going hungry.”

But she said a targeted, discrete approach which supported the most needy children in a school with food that could be given at any time of the day was the most effective and financially prudent approach.

“As the Prime Minister said today, not all children in low decile schools need a food programme. What is needed, however, is a national food strategy and we believe we have, over the past seven years, developed a sustainable model which has proven positive educational outcomes.”

According to Kidscan, one in 11 kids in the four lowest deciles are hungry at school.

Targeting hungry kids in all schools makes more sense rather than taking over feeding responsibilities from all parents in some schools.