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Whole child approach

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A guide to applying the whole child approach
New Zealand. Ministry of Social Development.
government document
Publication Date: 
1 Jan 2004

Excerpts from the guide:

This guide contributes to the first of seven key action areas in New Zealand's Agenda for Children: Making life better for children (Agenda for Children). To support the implementation of the Agenda for Children the Government determined that the whole child approach should be the basis for child policy and service development. This guide provides advice for policy makers, programme developers and those involved in service delivery to apply the whole child approach in their work.

The advice in this guide can be used by both government and non-government agencies at all stages of developing and implementing policies and programmes affecting children and young people under the age of 18 years. The guide has three main parts. Part one outlines a practical guide to applying the whole child approach. Parts two and three provide a rationale for the approach and examples of how the whole child approach is being applied.

The whole child approach in the development of policy and services is about making sure the needs, rights and interests of children and young people are taken into account. This is achieved by ensuring that, where possible, children and young people are involved in the policy-making and decision-making processes, and that policies contribute to the healthy development and wellbeing of all children.

Addressing children's issues requires moving away from seeing children only as vulnerable dependents in need of adult care, protection and guidance because of their immaturity. Nor should children be viewed as 'adults in development', as passive recipients of services, as possessions of their parents or as 'problems'. A whole child approach recognises that although children do depend on others, at times making them vulnerable, they are continuing to learn and grow. In the process they develop the skills they need to look after themselves and to make decisions about their lives.