Family Start celebrates 20 years

Published: July 16, 2019

Family Start celebrates 20 years of success with their first national conference in late June.

Family Start Mangere large

Minister launches Conference

The conference, opened by Minister Martin, celebrated how Family Start has grown over the past two decades to over 40 partner organisations, and the programme currently supports over 5,300 families and children. It was an opportunity to “Celebrating our past, with a vision for the future” and provide professional development and training for everyone present.

Family Start is a child-centred, home visiting programme aimed at supporting at-risk whānau to realise better outcomes for their children. Community organisations have been funded to provide Family Start to whānau for twenty years. Initially Family Start was funded and managed by Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health and Child Youth and Family. By 2008, Family Start providers were contracted through Ministry of Social Development and eventually Oranga Tamariki.

"I was fortunate enough to listen to their stories and talk about their experiences and why they do what they do.  They are truly amazing.” Frances Allen, Manager Voices of Whānau and Community, Oranga Tamariki.

Made for Aotearoa

The national conference was a great opportunity for Oranga Tamariki to speak to providers directly about exciting new areas things happening.

Janet Dean, Acting Team Leader – Pa Harakeke, presented the updated Parenting Resource with Lynne Van de Riet from the Voices of Whānau and Community team.

The Parenting Resource was first launched in 2017, and ensures the Family Start whānau workers have a home-grown tool that fits Aotearoa’s unique needs.  Based on Strategies with Kids, Information for Parents (SKIP) resources, it’s a free online tool available to support anyone working with families with babies, infants and toddlers – including parents.  

“It was such a great opportunity to be able to help add these resources into the whānau worker kete. I was able to acknowledge the special relationships and discussions they have with whānau about children and parenting, and how these ultimately shape the lives and experiences of so many of our tamariki. I believe that every child deserves to have at least one person absolutely crazy about them and our parenting resource through Family Start can help this to happen,” said Janet.

New approach to Intensive Intervention

Joe Fowler, GM Commissioning and Market Building, also had the chance to discuss the new approach to intensive intervention Oranga Tamariki is working on with iwi/Māori organisations and communities.  The new approach aims to help those tamariki and rangatahi considered to be most at risk of entry, or re-entry, into state care to remain safely at home.

“It’s being designed in collaboration with partners and our sites so the approach will differ depending on the strengths, nature, relationships and context within each community. We are deliberately taking our time to develop the approach, and we are working particularly hard to engage meaningfully with local iwi and Māori organisations,” said Joe.