Back to school costs hits families in hardship
KidsCan is taking 47 schools off their waiting list for the start of term one, in response to “heartbreaking” survey findings.
Now, they are supporting a record of 787 schools nationwide.
Some children in poverty are missing school because they are sharing one uniform, a pair of shoes or a bus pass with their siblings, a KidsCan survey has revealed.
Hundreds of low decile schools share heartbreaking stories of the strain on families as children head back to school in the survey.
“We had four boys attending on different days of the week and the excuse was illness... turned out they only had one school shirt so they picked their favourite day of classes to come. Mum was too embarrassed to tell anyone,” says a teacher.
210 decile one to four schools responded to the survey, with teachers saying students are often absent on the first days of school because they didn’t have necessary school supplies.
“Many parents do keep their children home until they can afford some books, uniforms also hold parents back,” one teacher says.
“Some have to choose between feeding their children or stationery, and stationery will always lose,” another adds.
Schools detailed an increasing number of measures they are taking to support struggling families, including changing to cheaper uniforms with no logo, not charging fees, reducing stationery costs, and setting up payment plans.
Some went above and beyond, picking up children whose families couldn’t afford petrol, with teachers paying for stationery themselves.
KidsCan aims to ease the burden on children, families and schools by taking care of essentials including breakfast, snacks, hot meals, raincoats, shoes and sanitary items.
“We’re pleased that more children will be able to focus on learning, without sitting in class feeling cold and hungry, or not coming to school at all,” KidsCan’s CEO and founder Julie Chapman says.
“But this is not a milestone to be celebrated. It just highlights the level of hardship in New Zealand right now, and the enormous impact it’s having on our kids.”