Jennifer Weber, Chief Education Officer of The Baby Box Co., discusses the Canadian and Australian baby box initiative at the TacklingPovertyNZ one-day workshop in Queenstown on 29 March 2016. You can watch the video of her presentation on the McGuinness Institute’s YouTube channel, or you can view the video below.

Jennifer discussed that The Baby Box Co. – a Canadian public policy initiative – drew on the Finland baby box package (as did the 2015 TacklingPovertyNZ workshop participants’ in their booklet). This initiative had positive impacts on a number of fronts; infant mortality rates, connecting women with their community, and early childhood development. She explained how the Canadian government are using the baby box as a tool to engage and build relationships and community cohesion, as well as utilising the practical resources provided in the box. The success of the box is facilitated through local health services and parent links centres.

Jennifer went on to explain how early childhood development should be used as a poverty reduction strategy because it is a way to reach children but also to connect the family into the community. She shared some of the key findings from her work with the Canadian government, which highlighted that children’s learning capabilities were higher in poor community than statistically expected. The researchers thought this could be attributed to community connectedness and the robust approach to care and wellbeing of children, highlighting the importance of community.

Jennifer also undertook her own research; she talked to parents about vulnerability and what they saw were the biggest challenges. Parents often cited barriers of access to programmes. The baby box initiative hopes to overcome this barrier as a tool for inclusiveness.

About TacklingPovertyNZ workshop tour
In December 2015, the McGuinness Institute undertook a three-day workshop in collaboration with The New Zealand Treasury. This workshop has led to a number of outputs, one of which includes undertaking a series of one-day workshops around New Zealand in 2016. Queenstown was the first one-day workshop where we tested our approach to see if a useful output could be achieved over one day. Over the next few months we will work on smoothing the inputs and processes. The next stop on the TacklingPovertyNZ tour is booked for Rotorua on 19 August 2016. We are currently in discussion with other regional councils including the Far North, Gisborne and Manawatu. After each workshop we will prepare a discussion paper to map local issues and to explore ideas developed by participants throughout the day. In addition to being made public, each discussion paper will be given to the Chief Economist of the New Zealand Treasury.

If you are interested in attending any of the upcoming workshops and would like to learn more about theTacklingPovertyNZ initiative, sign up to receive our bimonthly newsletter here or visit our website.