Council supports parents
by Ann van Engelen
Selwyn District Council has moved to support parents who wish to represent the region by covering extra childcare costs for councillors and community board members.
The council voted unanimously to reimburse councillors when they have to pay for childcare in order to attend meetings for council work or events where they are representing the council.
“Having a family shouldn’t be a barrier to representing your community and the policy is an opportunity to open up council to new members,” says Mayor Sam Broughton.
“We live in a district where half the population is under 40, and we’ve got a large number of young families. It’s important that young families are represented around the council table when we’re making decisions, and this is a great way of making that a little bit easier.”
The policy follows the guidelines for councils to consider paying back childcare that is set out in the new Local Government Members (2019/2020) Determination 2019 law, which came into effect on July 1.
The decision, which came into immediate effect, means a councillor or community board member can claim back up to $6,000 a year plus GST to cover the cost of childcare by someone who isn’t family to look after a child under 14 years old, in order for them to attend meetings or events on behalf of the council. The policy will be reviewed annually and is expected to cost council $20–25,000 a year. Selwyn District Council chief executive David Ward says the move reflects the busy nature of serving your community.
“Being an elected member means you’re on call at any time for meetings and events. The policy reflects that elected members can be called out at all hours for their work. We want good people to be able to serve their community, and it is an opportunity to help more people to be able to do that.”