Investing in the first 1000 days

Recognising that the first one thousand days of a child’s life is the most critical period in their development, National has committed to a raft of parent-and-child focused plans in its First 1000 Days policy, announced by National Party Leader Judith Collins and Social Investment Spokesperson Louise Upston.

You can read our 1,000 Days Plan Policy Factsheet here.

“The seven-part plan, which 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,” Ms Collins says.

“Studies have shown that countries that fail to invest in the wellbeing of women and children during this crucial time will suffer worse economic results in the future, through lower productivity and higher health costs.

“Our package will give parents control and choice over the type of support they receive, regardless of their situation or parenting experience.”

The First 1,000 Days package includes:

  • Empowering parents – An entitlement worth up to $3000 for all expecting mothers that can be used to commission services to support their child’s first 1,000 days of development.  Mothers and babies who have higher needs will be entitled to up to $3,000 additional funding ($6,000 in total), along with the support to help them choose the services they need.

  • Enhanced screening – This includes pre & post-birth GP visits, and a revamped B4 School check at age three to identify developmental concerns and trigger early intervention services.

  • Three day postnatal stay – All new mothers will be entitled to a three day stay in their postnatal facility.

  • Child passport – An enhanced version of the current Well Child/Tamariki Ora book with electronic record-keeping, this will record needs identified through screening and track progress to key physical, emotional, developmental and education milestones. It will be used to ensure that, where required, early action is taken to address issues or additional needs.

  • Paid parental leave at the same time – Parents will be given a choice about when they take their leave – either one parent at a time, as they now can, or both parents at the same time if that’s what they prefer. We believe both parents should have the opportunity to bond with their baby during the first months of life, and we support parents to make the best decisions for their baby and family.

  • National Centre for Child Development – Headquartered at a university, the Centre will bring together the best of child health, neuroscience and education research. Its job is to improve best-practice for child development throughout the early childhood system.

“National believes in empowering parents to make decisions about their children and their own wellbeing,” Ms Upston says.

“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.

“This new funding, allocated per child rather than directly to services, will mean that parental demand will determine which services receive how much of the additional money.

“However, organisations that are currently funded by the Government to provide services for the first 1,000 days would keep their existing baseline funding. Plunket, for example, will still receive its existing funding allocation of approximately $66 million per year. 

“They would also be eligible to receive a share of National’s new funding, if that’s what New Zealand parents choose to do with their allocation,” Ms Collins says.

You can read our 1,000 Days Plan Policy Factsheet here.