Ed­u­ca­tion de­lay vexes teen mums

South Waikato News - - NEWS - By FLORENCE KERR

One year on, teen moth­ers Cassie Winikerei and Jes­sica Lan­g­ley are still wait­ing for the South Waikato Teen Par­ent Unit to open.

Ms Winikerei and Ms Lan­g­ley with their chil­dren Fayeth and Cohree can’t un­der­stand why the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion has not given the unit the green light.

‘‘It’s sup­posed to be up and run­ning now. I’m so frus­trated be­cause I turned 19 this year and the cut-off is 20 so that gives me one year left to get my qualifications,’’ Ms Winikerei said.

‘‘The rest of the mums are get­ting rest­less as well,’’ Ms Winikerei adds, ‘‘some of them have had to go into full-time work and oth­ers are find­ing units out of town to go to.’’

TCOSS Early years ser­vice hub co­or­di­na­tor, Ann Vosper, shares the moth­ers’ frus­tra­tion.

‘‘We are be­ing de­layed by the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion and have no idea why. I was given cri­te­ria to fill last year which was to find a venue that would house the unit and to find 10 teen moth­ers to sign up. We found both, then were told 20 moth­ers had to join then we were told 30, which was fine be­cause we cur­rently have 32 teen moth­ers reg­is­tered.’’

Mrs Vosper is un­sure how long the moth­ers will wait for the unit to even­tu­ally open.

‘‘Ba­si­cally I have done all I can, the rest is now up to the min­istry to de­cide. I feel for these moth­ers be­cause they want to fur­ther them­selves for their chil­dren. The de­lay has been too much for some who have packed up and left the district, leav­ing be­hind their sup­port net­works to fur­ther their ed­u­ca­tion at other teen units in the Bay of Plenty.’’

Sources from the min­istry have told Mrs Vosper that the unit won’t have an Early Child Care unit at­tached.

‘‘This makes a mock­ery of our un­der­stand­ing of what a teen par­ent unit is. The at­tached ECC unit is what makes go­ing back to school at­trac­tive to our teen par­ents.

‘‘ They are able to re­main in­volved in the rais­ing of their child with them so close. Take this away and you lose your stu­dents.’’ Ms Winikerei is adamant if the ECC goes so will she.

‘‘If that’s the case I will have to go else­where, I don’t want to do that but what choice do I have.’’ Mrs Vosper said TCOSS and lo­cal com­mu­nity agen­cies have run cour­ses for the moth­ers while the wait­ing con­tin­ues. ‘‘We have had great sup­port from Plun­ket, The Sal­va­tion Army, Sports Waikato, Raukawa Char­i­ta­ble Trust and SWIPIC, they have been in­stru­men­tal with their sup­port.’’

Mrs Vosper has hounded govern­ment min­is­ters re­lent­lessly about their plight to open up the unit’s door which has proved fruit­ful. Meet­ings or­gan­ised by the teen unit steer­ing com­mit­tee will host Labour MP Trevor Mal­lard on Novem­ber 26 and on De­cem­ber 3 As­so­ci­ate Min­is­ter for So­cial Devel­op­ment and Em­ploy­ment Tar­i­ana Turia, at the TCOSS of­fices on Marae­tai Road to seek their sup­port.

Mrs Vosper said the com­mit­tee was de­lighted that two se­nior MPs had re­sponded to their in­vi­ta­tion to meet.

‘‘We’re look­ing for­ward to use­ful dis­cus­sions with each of them,’’ she said, adding that lo­cal MP Louise Up­ston had been fully briefed on the sit­u­a­tion.

‘‘We have also had a re­sponse from Hon Anne Tol­ley, as­sur­ing us of her in­ter­est. Un­for­tu­nately she can­not meet with us this year but she has asked the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion to pro­vide her with our sub­mis­sion as soon as pos­si­ble.’’

LONG WAIT: Toko­roa Teen mums Jes­sica Lan­g­ley (left) with daugh­ter Cohree and Cassie Winikerei with daugh­ter Fayeth are still wait­ing on the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion to open the doors.

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