Visits made to homes
A child-centred intensive home visiting programme is already reaching 20 families in South Canterbury.
Presbyterian Support, through its Family Works services, officially launched Family Start on Friday, though it began in the region in February.
The free voluntary home-visiting service, funded by the Government, has space for 60 families annually in Mid and South Canterbury.
Its aim is to improve children’s growth, health and environment and support families struggling with challenges that make it harder for them to care for their baby or young child.
The launch was held at the Landing Service Building in George St, Timaru, where invited guests were introduced to the Family Start team.
Presbyterian Support South Canterbury chief executive Michael Parker said Family Start was an example of Family Works having a “desire to support the community”.
Family Start team leader Catherine-Joye Truman said it was an honour to lead the team which included three whanau workers in Timaru and one in Ashburton.
“The service is about effective early intervention.”
The workers were learning about family situations, some of which included abuse and trauma.
“I think if I had a background like that, I would be struggling as a parent.”
Mrs Truman said parents spoken to wanted to do things differently.
“We’re here to help them and support them and work in partnership with them.”
There was a demand for the service in the community, Mrs Truman said.
Ministry for Vulnerable Children family services team leader Paul Arts said the first few years of life were vitally important.
“The first 1000 days of child’s life are so important and Family Start is looking to expand the programme.
“South Canterbury now has a programme that is proven to support the lives of children and their families.”
Families can be referred to Family Start by their doctor, midwife, early education provider, Plunket, Child Youth and Family or another agency.
Referral criteria include mental health issues, addiction problems, childhood history of abuse, care or protection history, relationship problems, a young parent, or parenting and development issues.