Don’t waste your time on the Green Paper

So Paula Bennett is calling for submissions from the public on the Green Paper on Vulnerable Children. This is a complete waste of time.

There is plenty of evidence about what works and what doesn’t. Over the past ten years a number of experts in the field, both New Zealanders and others, have made clear calls for policies which can make a difference to the lives of these children.

This doesn’t mean everything will work all the time. Short of putting a social worker in every home (and believe it or not I have witnessed a social policy wonk actually think this was a good idea!), we probably can never make every child safe. But we certainly can make a better fist of it than we do at the moment.

Starting with an agreed cross-party strategy. Only this way can we avoid a plethora of programmes, which change with each change in government, and often get rolled out with little or no evaluation. And next, we need to get rid of punitive policies which insist that beneficiaries are not working if they are at home raising children. Middle-class women may now rush after childbirth to resume their high paying careers, but beneficiaries without qualifications have a lot less to lose by staying home with young children and should be supported to do this.

In addition, there are quite a number of obvious things that Paula could learn if she had just read the inquiries from recent high profile child homicides and put the money required for the analysis of the over 5000 public submissions towards their recommendations. No wonder nothing ever changes!

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