We advocate for the interests, rights and wellbeing of children and young people

Poverty has serious consequences for a child experiencing it day by day. Poverty also impacts the country as a whole, with increased pressure on health and education services and a less productive workforce.

Over one in four children (28 percent) live in a household where the income is low and families struggle to make ends meet. Around 155,000 children live in 'material deprivation' and go without the things most of us take for granted - like a warm home, their own bed or a decent pair of shoes.

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Children miss out

Poverty affects children disproportionately, as they have no power to change their circumstances. They are completely reliant on grownups for their food, shelter and care. Costs to individual children and young people may include:

  • Poor physical and mental health
  • Unstable friendships and schooling
  • Stigmatisation
  • Stress about basic needs
  • Poor educational achievement due to low language acquisition, poor brain development, poor health and absence
  • Experiencing family stress
  • Being victims or perpetrators of crime

We all pay the cost

There are also costs that everybody bears through government spending. These costs include:

  • Increased costs for education and healthcare (through remedial expenditure)
  • Constraints on productivity and economic growth due to lower work-readiness and qualifications
  • Increased crime costs
  • Higher unemployment rate
  • Stretched social services.

Further reading

The paper "Choose kids: Why investing in children benefits all New Zealanders" presents the economic case for investing in children.  The economic rationale for focusing on children includes supporting the sustainability of our society, developing the future labour force for a productive nation, and reducing the costs of poverty.

The Child Poverty Monitor demonstrates the effects of poverty by showing the statistics on health and other outcomes and provides measures of child poverty so we can track this.

The Expert Advisory Group Report on Solutions to Child Poverty outlines the evidence for action, describing why these disadvantages need mitigation, and what the government can do to help. 

While the Government has the key role to reduce child poverty, there is a role for everyone in reducing the effects of poverty.  Giving2Kids has identified 50 examples of areas where people who want to make a change can focus their giving to help children.  Philanthropic and iwi organisations, socially responsible businesses, and individual donors can collectively make a great difference for New Zealand's children.

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I'm an individual - what can I do?

Giving2Kids is a guide for philanthropic and iwi organisations and businesses. However, if you're an individual and want to do something to support children here are some tips:

  • find out what the needs are in your community. Ask around local schools, community groups and charities and see where the needs are 
  • you can volunteer your skills whether financial, management, grant-writing, supporting frontline staff - ask your preferred charitable organisation what you can do.  Be prepared to commit for a long period so that any investment in your training, or your ‘learning curve’, will be put to best use, and to protect the trust of children who may come to rely on you
  • if you want to donate money, check if the charity is registered with the Charities Commission. This means there is strong accountability for the use of funds 
  • small organisations not yet registered with the Charities Commission may also be doing great things in the community. Just do your own research to check they are making a positive difference 
  • there are many charities and services focused on children that welcome volunteers. Check out www.volunteeringnz.org.nz 
  • if you want to leave money in your will, speak to your lawyer 
  • A Memory Tree has a list of charities, some of which support children.