KidsCan govt funding may be canned

By Mānia Clarke-Mamanu

National children's charity KidsCan is anxious to hear whether they will receive any more government funding from this week’s budget.

CEO and founder Julie Chapman says last year they were told support would be cut, which means hundreds of children could go hungry.

South Auckland's Finlayson Park was one of the first schools to be supported by KidsCan 10 years ago.

“Our minds are energised so that we can learn, and also it's easy for the students to play here,” says student Azaria Tupou.

The school is saddened to hear that government support for KidsCan may be cut.

“This is a huge issue,” says total immersion teacher, Rewana Walker, “I hope the government continues to fund this which is not only helping Māori children but also non-Māori in schools”.

KidsCan now operates in 718 schools and provides for 171, 000 students who have access to breakfast, raincoats, socks and health and hygiene items at a cost of $8mil per year.

“We may not be able to reach as many children as we want to,” says Chapman, “That's really worrying because they are the children right now going hungry, cold wet and sick”.

Over the last three years, they've received government support of $350,000 per year for clothing and health resources.

“Last year we spent all of that money on raincoats for children.  So that was thousands of coats that were keeping little kids warm and dry on their way to school,” says Chapman, “If we don't have that funding continue, it might have to come from food budget”.

Minister for Children, Tracey Martin, told Te Kāea she would not reveal what was in the budget until its announcement on Thursday.

Chapman says 10 schools are currently waiting to receive their services, and they're being approached by early childhood centres and higher decile schools who are seeing a rise in children going without the basics.