The Stork Network's Zalie Doyle (left) and National leader Judith Collins in Ashburton.

National leader Judith Collins risked having her finger bitten in Ashburton today before announcing her party’s new policy on helping mums and babies in their first 1000 days.

Mrs Collins and social investment spokesperson Louise Upston unveiled the policy outside The Stork Network in Allenton after meeting and mingling with half a dozen mums and their babies inside.

It was there that Charli McBride’s eight-month-old daughter Millie grabbed the leader’s finger and put it in her mouth. Mrs Collins said she well remembered the teething stage.

Charli McBride with eight-month-old Millie and National leader Judith Collins.

Parents at the Stork Network had been among those to give feedback to Ms Upston a year ago when she was promoting a members bill to ensure birthing mothers received three days in hospital after the birth of their baby.

Mrs Collins said National’s new policy would also give mothers a $3000 entitlement to pay for services and support they might need in those critical first 1000 days of development. Those services might include things like specialist breast feeding advice, post-natal stays or sleeping clinic assistance.

The first 1000 days policy is a seven-part $226 million plan, calling for greater and more targeted spending to create better human and economic returns in the long run.

“Studies have shown that countries that fail to invest in the wellbeing of women and children during this crucial time will suffer worse economic results in the future, through lower productivity and higher health costs.
“Our package will give parents control and choice over the type of support they receive, regardless of their situation or parenting experience.”

Mrs Collins was joined by MP Nicola Willis and the party’s Rangitata candidate Megan Hands, who has a toddler.

The $3000 entitlement would be doubled for mothers and babies who have higher needs.
The plan will also include enhanced screening with pre and post-birth GP visits, and three days in hospital after the birth.

Parents could chose to have paid parental leave at the same time, if they preferred.

Mrs Collins said a national centre for child development would also be created at a university, bringing together the best of child health, neuroscience and education research.
Organisations that are currently funded by the Government to provide services for the first 1000 days would keep their existing baseline funding. Plunket, for example, will still receive its existing funding allocation of approximately $66 million per year.

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