22 Apr 2015

Plunket phases out car seat hire

10:12 am on 22 April 2015

New parents will no longer be able to turn to Plunket to help get their baby safely home from hospital, after the latest cut to one of the country's oldest child welfare charities.

car seat

Photo: 123rf

Plunket has been hiring out car seats for more than 30 years, but the service is facing increased retail competition and is now losing money, making it no longer viable for the organisation.

The charity's chief operating officer, Andrea McLeod, said Plunket planned to phase out the rental and retail service over the next 12 to 18 months because fewer people were using that side of the service.

"The number of Plunket car seat sites has declined from 283 at its peak in the 1980s, to 72 today.

"Despite efforts to make the service sustainable, sites across the country have been closing as they can no longer afford to operate. The majority of these sites only operate part time, a few hours a day, several times a week.

"The decline indicates families' needs have changed."

Plunket started offering car seat and capsule hire back in 1981.

Surveys at the time suggested just 20 percent of children were buckled in.

That number has now jumped to 93 percent. Plunket once had 100 percent of the business, but that has dropped to just 6 percent, with many retailers charging the same hire fee.

"We are proud of the work we've done together with other safety providers and with our funders, to help families get their children in car seats," Ms McLeod said.

"We advocated successfully for the law change to make car seats for children mandatory, and our programmes have helped families get their children into car seats. Plunket has played its role."

Plunket would still work in car seat education, but to what extent had not yet been decided.

Ms McLeod said Plunket would turn its focus to preventable injuries among children, such as slips, falls, burns and cuts.

It would talk with community groups already working in those areas to see how it could help.

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