Saturday, May 19, 2018

Watch out for a spike in prem babies

I wrote in my last column for NZCPR that the baby bonus came in on April 1, 2018. It did not. It kicks in on July 1, 2018. Apologies.

Too late for the PM but every other family will receive an extra $60 a week regardless of their family income.

What is a Best Start tax credit?
Best Start tax credit is a weekly payment of $60 (up to $3,120 per year) per child for a baby born on or after 1 July 2018.
For the first year of the baby's life the family's income is not taken into account. For families earning less than $79,000, Best Start will continue at $60 per week until the child turns 3. If the family income is above $79,000, payments will reduce or stop depending on your income.
This is going to get very messy though.

My baby is due after 1 July 2018, what happens if it comes early?
If your baby's expected due date is on or after 1 July 2018 and is born before this date you're still eligible for Best Start. Depending on your circumstances, you may be eligible for the parental tax credit and you may choose to receive this instead of Best Start.
Parental tax credit is a weekly payment of up to $220 (total of $2,200) paid for the first 10 weeks after your baby was born. It is only available for babies born before 1 July 2018 whose due date was on or after 1 July 2018.

 There are going to be a lot of calculators out.

The difference between $9,360 (3 years of $60 a week) and $2,200 is large.

Who decides what the official expected date is anyway? Many women can't remember the details required to calculate a specific date. Some do not discover they are pregnant until well into the gestation period. Or has some sort of science emerged since I was a expectant mum whereby an exact official date is declared and written in stone? Neither of mine was born on the predicted date. The first was very early and the second quite late.

Prediction: the number of 'premature' babies is going to rise significantly next month.

Monday, May 14, 2018

'Poverty' improperly blamed again

NewstalkZB is reporting on new Australian longitudinal research that links childhood background to the risk of being placed on anti-psychotic medications:

The study will be presented today during the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists Annual Congress in Auckland in front of a national and international gathering of experts.
The study was led by social policy researcher Amy Kaim from the Robinson Research Institute at the University of Adelaide using data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC), cross matched with information from Medicare and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
"The preliminary findings indicate that a larger proportion of children and teens from disadvantaged families are being placed on antipsychotic medication than others in the general population," she said.
"A larger proportion of children and teens taking the medication were boys, in lower-income families, with an unemployed primary caregiver, who were living in single-parent households.

My contention is always that the family type is more important than the level of income. But the headline for this article reads:

Poverty link with children's mental health 'unarguable'

Noting that error isn't just a frustration on my behalf. It has ramifications.

Because the solution to alleviating the plight of these children automatically becomes putting more public money into their homes.

When told about the research Children's Commissioner Andrew Becroft (who I used to rate as the Principal Youth Court Judge but has been disappointing in his present role) responded:

"There is an absolute desperate and long term need to right the wrongs of the last 30 years. It's all in our power to reduce the rates of income-related child poverty and material deprivation in New Zealand."

He's with those advocates who date 'poverty' back to the benefit cuts - "30 years".

I go back 50 years. 1968. Or thereabouts. The first DPB (the emergency benefit introduced by National). There has been a 50 year experimentation with funding one parent families and the results have been dreadful.

Here's a scenario for you. A young female, from an abusive family, herself now a single mother with three kids from different fathers all of whom have a smorgasbord of convictions, debt, periods of unemployment or imprisonment, drug habits and/or violent tendencies. Do you honestly think putting more money into her weekly benefit is going to change anything for those kids and their prospects?