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5  Conclusion

This paper has updated and extended an earlier study[15] undertaken by The Treasury which used integrated administrative data to identify and describe the characteristics of children at greater risk of poor long-term outcomes.

This analysis focused on children aged 0-14 years and made use of new information available in Statistics New Zealand's Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI). It updates and extends the earlier analysis by incorporating information on parent-child relationships, border movements, health service use, and educational participation and achievement. This report provides separate analysis of children aged 0-5 and 6-14 years, reflecting the initial focus of social sector agencies on the younger age group.

The earlier analysis identified that a small number of characteristics observed in the agencies administrative data were strongly associated with poor outcomes as young adults. The current analysis focuses on children who had two or more of four particular characteristics or indicators. The choice of the four indicators was based on the earlier work and subsequent decisions made by the key social agencies on how the priority population would be defined.

The priority population comprises children with two or more of the following characteristics (or indicators):

  • having a finding of abuse or neglect, or having spent time in care of child protection services
  • having spent most of their lifetime supported by benefits
  • having a parent who has received a community or custodial sentence
  • having a mother who has no formal qualifications.

Children with these characteristics were more likely to have poorer educational attainment, to be long-term welfare recipients, and to have served community or custodial sentences. Compared to children with none of the four indicators, children aged 0 -5 years with two or more of the four indicators are:

  • eight times more likely to have contact with Youth Justice services before age 18 (14% compared to 2%)
  • three times more likely to leave school with no qualifications (36% compared to 13%)
  • six times more likely to receive benefits for more than two years before the age of 21 (20% compared to 3%)
  • ten times likely to spend time in jail before the age of 21 (6% compared to 0.6%)
  • four times more likely to receive benefits for more than five years when they are aged 25-34 years (21% compared to 5%).

In general, the greater the number of indicators the child has the higher the likelihood of having poorer outcomes. Around 14% of children aged 0 to 5 years (and aged 0 to 14 years) have two or more of the four indicators, 5% have three or more, and 1% have all four indicators. Children who have three particular indicators (they have a CYF finding, have mainly been supported by benefits since birth, and have a parent with a community or custodial sentence history) have similarly poor outcomes as children with all four indicators. Together these two groups comprise 3% of all children aged 0 to 5 (and aged 0 to 14 years) and are at particularly high risk of having poorer long term outcomes.

The number and type of indicators present are correlated with a range of other characteristics that are observable in the integrated dataset. For example, compared to those with none of the four indicators, children aged 0 to 5 years with two or more of the four indicators are:

  • nine times more likely to have a mother who were was single at their birth (71% compared to 8%)
  • twice as likely to have had an injury-related hospitalisation (10% compared to 5%)
  • four times less likely to have participated in early childhood education (9% compared to 2%)
  • between two and three times more likely to have behavioural, emotional, or peer relationship problems, or requiring referrals for hearing, vision, dental problems (assessed during the Ministry of Health Before School Check)
  • ten times more likely to have changed address at least once a year on average since birth (16% compared to 1.6%).

While children who had two or more of the four indicators present have been defined as the priority population, the number and combination of indicators present can be used to identify smaller groups of higher risk children (those with 3 or more indicators say), as well as a broader group (those with 2 or more indicators) who are at moderate to high risk of having poorer outcomes.

It is important to note that many children at risk of poor outcomes remain outside the priority population defined by having two or more of the four specific indicators. While on average those with none or just one indicator have much lower rates of poor outcomes than those with two or more indicators, because they are a much larger group, there are significant numbers of children who have none or one indicator who will have go on to have poor outcomes.

Some of the information included in this report is also available in an interactive mapping tool on The Treasury's website www.treasury.govt.nz/sii. The mapping tool provides information on the number of children and youth, by age group, who have particular characteristics by region, territorial authority and area unit.

Notes

  • [15]Crichton, S., Templeton, R., and Tumen, S. (2015) Analytical Paper 15/01: Using Integrated Administrative Data to Understand Children at Risk of Poor Outcomes as Young Adults, The Treasury. See: www.treasury.govt.nz/publications/research-policy/ap/2015/15-01/
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