New Zealand's largest provider of services to support the wellbeing of children under five welcomes the Health Select Committee's current inquiry into preventing child abuse and improving children's health outcomes.
The purpose of the inquiry is to find what practical health and social interventions can be made from before birth until three years of age.
In a joint oral submission to the Select Committee today, with advocacy coalition Every Child Counts, Plunket encouraged all political parties to have an investment approach to children.
"Evidence shows that those first three years are critical in a child's development", says Plunket CEO Jenny Prince.
"Deprivation during this time has been show to result in poor outcomes in adulthood. Economic investment during the first three years will have pay back throughout life in health, education and social outcomes.
"New Zealand currently has one of the lowest levels of public investment in young people in the OECD. We rank 28 of 30 nations for giving children a good start, based on measures such as overcrowding in homes and infant mortality.
"The health and wellbeing of our children is not just an issue for politicians though, it's an issue for all New Zealanders. Focusing on giving our children the best start in life is vital in helping us create a better society.
"We are looking for leadership from Parliament and Government to support a societal attitude shift so the needs of children and those caring for them are prioritised in policy and fiscal decision making, as well as in communities and families" she says.
One practical solution Plunket is urging Government to consider is a national child health database to record all the health care a child receives from birth, including GP visits, well child contacts, immunisations, specialist care and hospital admissions.
Mrs Prince suggests a national database would enable better identification of those children missing out on the services and care they are entitled to.
"It would also improve sharing of information between providers so more support can be offered to families who need it most, and all children get the best start in life", she says.
"Evidence tells us there are no quick fixes. There are a complex range of contributing factors to the state of our children's health and wellbeing. We need to concentrate effort on ensuring that families have the support they need to safely care for and raise New Zealand's future generations"
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