National promises $3000 for all expecting parents to spend on child-related services

National wants to give all expecting parents $3000 to spend on child-related services, with some in greater need given up to $6000.

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Judith Collins also renewed the party’s pledge to allow optional shared paid parental leave. Source: 1 NEWS

The party is also pledging to uphold previous promises of allowing three day postnatal stay entitlements and allowing parents to take paid parental leave at the same time. 

National leader Judith Collins said the "First 1000 Days" election policy "centres on National’s pioneering social investment approach, calls for greater and more targeted spending to create better human and economic returns in the long run and costs $226 million". 

New parents would be allowed to use up to $3000 for services such as pre or post natal education, midwife services, extended postnatal stay, extra ECE hours for older siblings, additional paid parental leave and specialist support including lactation and sleep specialists. 

"This new funding, allocated per child rather than directly to service providers, will mean that parental demand will determine which services receive how much of the additional money," National's social investment spokesperson Louise Upston said. 

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How well children are cared for in New Zealand was the hot topic today for both major parties. Source: 1 NEWS

"National’s bold plan would give parents commissioning power over the support they need, recognising the fact that a mother with her third child may need different services than a mother experiencing her first pregnancy," she said. 

Some parents and children deemed "high needs" would be eligible for up to $6000 worth of services. 

Collins said if her party were to form a Government after the election, the Best Start programme would remain but would have it means tested from the first year, rather than just in the second and third year. 

Best Start is currently $60 a week for new all new parents for the first year, after paid parental leave payments end. Parents can then qualify for the second and third year if they earn under $93,858.

The First 1000 Days policy also included lowering the ratio of adult-to-child at early childhood education centres for children under two, and to create a National Centre for Child Development at one of New Zealand's universities to improve "best practice throughout the system". 

National also promised a screening programme "to identify any health, behavioural, social, or developmental concerns and to trigger enhanced early intervention services if required". 

It wants to fund three day postnatal stay for all mothers who want to stay at the birthing facility longer and to create a "child passport" - described as an enhanced version of Well Child/Tamariki Ora book and electronic records from the screening programme. 

National began pushing for a law change to allow parents to take paid parental leave at the same time in 2017. 

At the time, the current Government rejected National's attempts to change Labour's extension to paid parental leave (rising incrementally, hitting 26 weeks last July), so that parents could take it at the same time. 

"You can think of any number of situations where parents might find it really useful, if you've had a c-section and the mother can't drive for six weeks, twins, if one of the children has a medical condition, if there are a number of older siblings," Amy Adams said at the time. 

The Former Workplace Relations Minister said their concern "with that is the likelihood it would reduce the amount of time that baby has to bond with their primary caregiver".