‘Kāpiti’s young mums urgently need help from paid parental leave’By Kris Faafoi, Labour Asst Health Spokesperson and MP for Mana
The Kāpiti coast is a gem of a place for families to raise children. Removed from the hustle and bustle of Wellington but close to the beauty of the nature coast. For parents, all the support and amenities are close at hand. That’s great, giving our kids the best start in life is vital. Recently, a member’s bill was drawn from the ballot that gets to the heart of motherhood and raising great children.
Bill recognises importance of mothers
Sponsored by my colleague, Labour MP Sue Moroney, the paid parental leave (PPL) bill recognises the importance of a mother’s love and nurturing care in baby’s first months.
The bill looks to extend PPL from 14 weeks to six months allowing mothers or fathers to make the most of these formative months.
Not only will baby benefit from the very best of care from the people who have its best interests at heart but the bill will allow mothers to breastfeed, without the restriction of working in paid employment, for the six months recommended by New Zealand health officials.
Visit to Kāpiti Youth Services
Having recently visited the new facilities at Kapiti Youth Services (KYS) which are used to help new mothers I know there is a need for more support for new mothers locally and giving them more opportunity to spend time with their new arrivals and more time to use local services such as KYS will be hugely beneficial for local parents.
The Parental Leave policy is based on a lot of research and evidence, including a report delivered last year to John Key by the Government’s chief science advisor,Sir Peter Gluckman supporting strong attachments between parent and baby to improve the child’s development into adolescence and adulthood.
Why wouldn’t we want that for our youngsters, the future of the Kapiti Coast? In the long run, in simple terms, it will make Kapiti an even better place to live in the future.
The report recognises that attachment between parent and child greatly increases their chances of having good educational outcomes, better health and being a more productive member of the workforce. It greatly reduces their chances of developing mental health problems or leading a life of crime.
Fourteen weeks too short
As every mother knows, the first few months of a baby’s life is a wondrous time but it is also a time of upheaval and 14 weeks barely covers the time it takes to adjust to sleep deprivation, breastfeeding regimen, endless laundry and, not to mention, coping with the physical toll of childbearing.
There may be younger members of the family to consider and make allowances for their ability to deal with someone else taking up their parents’ time.
The benefits of PPL far outweigh the costs – getting it right at the start of baby’s life will help in their lifelong journey and provide savings in childcare subsidies, remedial education, health care and crime-related costs; savings that will have far-reaching positive impacts on New Zealand communities.
The paid parental leave bill looks likely to pass its first reading in Parliament. It’s a great issue to debate, have a chat to your friends and family. I encourage you to send me your thoughts to email@example.com or give my office a call on 0800 MANA MP. Take care.