Preventing Teen Welfare Dependency Strategy ‘Logical’

Media Release 8 May 2012
Family First NZ says that the government’s attempts to prevent long-term welfare dependency of young people is a laudable objective, and free contraception is just one logical option.

“Up to half of current DPB recipients started on welfare as teenagers, and 20% of women on the DPB have had additional children while on the benefit. While we acknowledge the importance of welfare as a safety net for extreme circumstances, long-term welfare dependency can reduce work effort, can promote the rate of unmarried teen mothers, poverty-prone single-parent families, and reduces marriage rates,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. 

“Offering contraception to teenage mothers to prevent future pregnancies until they are ready for having another child is a logical and common sense approach.”

“Long term welfare dependency harms children through poorer social, health and educational outcomes. There is no evidence that increasing benefits and widening the net of welfare will improve children’s lives. In fact, the opposite is true. The Ministry of Social Development said that substantial research shows that ‘girls who grow up in families that receive welfare are themselves more likely to receive welfare once they are adults’. We need to break this cycle of dependency.” 

However, Family First is rejecting offering the contraception to teenagers simply because they are daughters of beneficiaries. 

“The message we should be sending these teenagers is to promote strong relationships, and delaying sexual activity until they are ready for the consequences. Once again, a common sense and logical message,” says Mr McCoskrie. “This proposal by the government is not ‘beneficiary bashing’. Allowing dysfunction and dependency to harm children and locking families into poverty is the real ‘beneficiary bashing’.”

Family First is hoping that the government will also adopt other proposals aimed at teenagers including:

  • requiring 16 and 17 year old sole parents to undertake training and education, parenting and budgeting programmes free of charge, and for their welfare payments to be managed
  • young people under 18 who receive welfare would be required to live with a responsible adult or adult supervised setting
  • families who are failing to meet the essential needs of their children through neglect or drug or alcohol abuse would receive forms of support including treatment and management of their welfare payments by a third party in order to provide a safe environment for their children
  • requirements that parents ensure their children are attending school and having regular health checks
  • at-risk families with complex needs to be provided with wrap-around services by single integrated providers which address the needs as a whole
  • where there is a clear need for budgeting support because the child or children’s well-bring is put at risk, this may entail a provision of a ‘payment card’ programmes for use only on essential items, to ensure that children’s needs are properly met

ENDS