KidsCan have extended their services to provide help to Kiwi preschool children aged under 5.
This comes in response to increasing requests from Early Childhood Centres, they say, as parents struggle to provide enough food or warm clothing for their children.
KidsCan’s Founder and CEO Julie Chapman says until now, early childhood centres have been overlooked.
“School children are supported with a range of food and clothing programmes. But there’s been no programme to nourish our tiniest bodies and provide the warm clothing and shoes they are missing out on. Children don’t suddenly find themselves in poverty when they turn 5 - and a lack of investment in them means they’re on the back foot before they even start school,” she says.
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In Dec 2018, more than 160,000 kids in Aotearoa were living in households without access to enough food or enough healthy food - File
KidsCan launched its new programme in 25 early childhood centres last October in Northland, Auckland and Hawke’s Bay, supporting around 950 young children.
The children are provided with fresh meals, raincoats, shoes, and head lice treatment.
KidsCan say the change in the children has been significant, and the charity is now aiming to offer the programme to other equity 1-4 early childhood centres nationwide.
The impact of KidsCan's programme on a child's participation, wellbeing, health, education and school readiness, is being evaluated by Waikato University researchers in a study lasting until September 2020.
Before the KidsCan programme started, they surveyed 325 whānau and found:
- 35% were using special food grants or food banks
- 37% go without fresh fruit and vegetables often
- 26% continued to wear shoes with holes as they couldn't replace them
- 35% of kids didn't have their own raincoat
Also that the lack of food or suitable clothing, as well as transport difficulties, meant their children could be kept home from their preschools.
KidsCan is looking to roll out their early childhood centre programme nationwide but say donations are needed to help.