Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Counselling support for vulnerable children

Associate Minister of Education, Jan Tinetti, has today announced funding for counselling support for around 24,000 of New Zealand’s most vulnerable children and young people.

“We are putting counsellors into 141 primary, intermediate, area and small secondary schools throughout Aotearoa,” the Minister said.

“This funding follows an additional $31.8 million which was allocated to large secondary schools in January this year. It equates to 90 additional counselling staff across the country and means 223,838 students have better access to a counsellor at school.”

She said the initiative would see $44 million invested over four years as part of a $200 million package announced last year to improve the wellbeing of learners and educators.

“It is particularly important as we continue to deal with the impacts on our children and young people from COVID-19,” Ms Tinetti said.

“Good mental health and wellbeing is essential for student success. I know that for some of our tamariki, a lack of wellbeing is getting in the way of their attendance, engagement, and achievement.

“This support will help children and young people better manage issues such as bullying, loneliness, anxiety at school, or loss or grief. As a former principal, I know how much teachers, and students, will welcome this extra support.”

The Counsellors in Schools initiative will provide much needed further support beyond the $15 million announced recently to help Auckland students to stay engaged in their learning in 2021 and 2022, she said.

The Government is also expanding Mana Ake into the Northland, Counties Manukau, Bay of Plenty, Lakes, and West Coast District Health Board regions. Mana Ake currently provides wellbeing and positive mental health support for around 9,000 Year 1 to 8 learners in Canterbury and Kaikoura.

“Schools know their learners best. So, with the Counselling in Schools initiative, it will be up to them, working with their whānau, communities, wellbeing staff and the counselling provider, to decide what supports their students need and how they will be delivered.”

“We want all children and young people to understand it’s okay at times not to feel fine, to learn more about their feelings and behaviours, and to build supportive relationships with their teachers, their classmates and their whānau.

“During the development of the Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy, one young person said ‘sometimes it can be a scary thing trying to reach out to people. It would be good if there was someone, we could see ASAP when we’re feeling down.’ That is what Counselling in Schools is designed to do.

“It’s all part of our plan to make Aotearoa a better place for all our children and young people so they can go on to live healthy, happy lives,” Ms Tinetti said.

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