Family Start

Family Start is an early home visiting programme, focused on tamariki. The programme works with whānau to improve the health of tamariki, learning and relationships. 

About Family Start

Family Start looks at the environment of the tamaiti, their whānau circumstances, and their safety.

Participation in the programme is voluntary, and it supports whānau who are struggling with challenges or problems that put the hauora, education and wellbeing of a tamaiti at risk. 

Family Start visits can start in the early stages of pregnancy (from 3 months) and referrals are taken up until a pēpi is 1 year old. Family Start may continue with the same whānau until a tamaiti is school aged, but only if needed.

In exceptional circumstances, a new referral can be taken for a tamaiti of up to 2 years.

Challenges we can help you with

We can help when a parent or caregiver has any of these challenges:

  • Mental health issues.
  • Drinking, using drugs or gambling too much.
  • Abuse as a tamaiti.
  • Serious problems with partners or whānau.
  • Knowing how to make sure a tamaiti is healthy and growing strong.
  • A tamaiti has a disability or needs special care.
  • The whānau has been involved with Oranga Tamariki (formerly Child Youth and Family) or they’ve been involved with the whānau.
  • They're a young parent that needs extra support.

Family Start is about improving a child's health, learning and relationships.

Whānau reading on the back deck 2

How it works

A Family Start whānau worker will:

  • visit them at home, starting once a week, and get to know them, their tamaiti, their partner and any whānau
  • find out what parts of being a parent they've already got sorted and what they need help with
  • help get the right health care for their tamaiti
  • explain how their pēpi is growing and changing at different ages
  • help them work out what they want to achieve, change or improve, and make a plan with them to help get there
  • offer advice and ideas, and help them solve problems as they work towards their goals
  • put them in touch with other help or services they might need
  • support them to keep their pēpi or tamaiti safe
  • help them understand what they can do as a parent at different stages as their tamaiti grows.

Working alongside us

Family Start is not an alternative to emergency or crisis help from other organisations, but we do work with other agencies and professionals to support parents in caring for their tamariki.

For example, through this Work and Income subsidy, whānau enrolled in Family Start or Early Start may be able to get financial help so their tamariki can participate in early childhood education.

Early Learning Payment

Refer someone

If you would like to refer a whānau to Family Start,  you can contact a Family Start provider to find out more about the programme, and to access a copy of their referral form. The referral form is not included on this site. Information about the Referral and Intake process is in the Family Start Programme Manual [PDF, 2.3 MB] , Section 3. A list of Family Start providers and locations is provided below.

When referring a whānau, please ensure:

  • the whānau is aware of your concerns and why you think a referral might help them (we encourage you to complete the referral form with the whānau)
  • the strengths and aspirations of the whānau are acknowledged
  • the whānau gives consent for the referral. 

Send the referral form, along with any supporting documents, to your local Family Start provider. The provider will contact the whānau within 5 days to arrange an initial visit and confirm whether it's the right service for the whānau. They’ll also let you know the outcome of the initial visit.

Family Start providers are happy to talk through any potential referral if you – or the whānau – are unsure the programme is the right way forward.

Published: July 1, 2021 · Updated: July 1, 2021