Family Start Programme Expanding

By PSS | Posted: Tuesday February 28, 2017

Help for families in need is now accessible in more parts of Southland than ever before, through the Family Start programme.

Family Works Southland has previously been contracted to work with 206 Invercargill families through the programme, however new funding from the Ministry of Social Development has allowed the service to expand into other parts of the region and support a further 16 families.

The programme is now available in Te Anau, Manapouri and the areas between these two towns, as well as families living within 30 minutes of the Invercargill boundary.

Part-time Family/Whanau Worker Nadine Allan, who lives in Te Anau, is able to work with up to eight families at any one time and Invercargill-based staff will be able to provide support to another eight families that live within 30 minutes of the Invercargill boundary. This takes the total contract to 222 Southland families.

Family Start is a home visiting programme focussing on assisting parents with the health, welfare and education needs of their child/ren, as well as assisting with issues they may face in their day to day life.

The referral criteria is broad – ranging from wanting some parenting assistance to having difficulties with health, finances, addictions, isolation or anything in between – and families can self-refer. The parent/s must either be pregnant or have a child under a year. In exceptional circumstances Family Start will accept a family that has a child under the age of two. The programme can continue to work with a family until the child starts school.

Family Works and community professionals identified a need for the Family Start programme in Te Anau, Manapouri and the areas between these towns and outside the Invercargill boundary, and particularly for families moving from Invercargill to work on farms.

Family Works Manager Dawn Lloyd was delighted they were able to employ someone in Te Anau and community professionals were praising the move, she said.

“The feedback we are receiving is that they are very thankful that there is somebody in these areas providing the specific type of parenting education and family support Family Start is well known for across New Zealand,” she said.

“Although 16 families in the new areas now covered does not cover the broader Southland area or the needs of other families that would benefit from the programme, it is a start.”

Lloyd said many families throughout Southland needed support for a wide range of reasons and she was pleased the Family Start Programme could now be offered in areas outside of Invercargill.

“I think a lot of people out there aren’t aware of the support that is needed by many families in our Southland community,” she said.

“Family Start is a Programme that can have hugely positive outcomes for families, whether we are working alongside them for a few months or a few years.”

“The programme focusses on strengthening and improving parents’ skills for the benefit of the child and the achievement of the family’s own goals. Families can stay in the programme until they have achieved their goals, the child’s wellbeing is enhanced, parents’ confidence is increased and living circumstances are improved.”

To find out more about Family Start CLICK HERE or phone 0800 707 808.