Early help for whānau who need extra support

  • Hon Tracey Martin

The Government is investing in a new, whānau-centred early intervention prototype designed to strengthen families and improve the safety and wellbeing of children.

The new programme, Ngā Tini Whetū, is a collaboration between Oranga Tamariki, Te Puni Kōkiri, ACC and the Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency (WOCA) and was announced today by Children’s Minister Tracey Martin, Whānau Ora Minister Peeni Henare and Associate ACC Minister Willie Jackson.

It will see additional early support offered to around 800 whānau across the North Island, to lift child and whānau wellbeing and resilience.

“Our current systems of support too often see resources going to families after they are in trouble and an incident has happened,” Minister Martin says. “This initiative is designed to get the right help to whānau before there’s a crisis.

“If we want to reduce the stress on families and help them to care for their children, then this is the type of shift we need.”

Ngā Tini Whetū involves a combined $42.4 million investment over two years from the three government agencies, with Oranga Tamariki and ACC transferring money to Te Puni Kōkiri to commission services from WOCA. It is anticipated that the first families will start to receive the new service from January 2021.

“The initiative aligns with the findings of the Whānau Ora Review Report 2018 – Tipu Mātoro ki te Ao 2018, and demonstrates a new way of working together under the direction and principles of the Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy to shift towards early, whānau-centred support and collective action.

“If we build the capability and resilience of whānau they can take control of their lives and make the changes they need to,” Minister Henare says.

Building stronger partnerships between agencies and providers in communities should enable to whānau to receive more intensive and earlier support from navigators and providers.

“The initiative will gather evidence of how the Whānau Ora approach works as a decentralised early intervention model and how best to increase cross-government engagement in Whānau Ora.”

Minister Jackson said he was very encouraged by the collaboration across government and with the commissioning agency.

“Everyone involved has embraced a whānau centred approach that will provide support services early in a child’s life and ultimately lessen the likelihood of harm to tamariki.

“This fits with ACC’s injury prevention approach and its Māori strategy – we want to reduce the number of incidents of harm and to improve access to services for Māori.”

Minister Martin said the initiative was the most significant early intervention programme since the introduction of the Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy.

“It shows that agencies can get together and that we need multiple solutions if we’re going to reach families in the right way – urban and rural and iwi-led and pan-Maori. What’s important is that the right help is offered and that people will engage with services they need.”

Ministers said the prototype will test different approaches and provide further insights into how to further support tamariki who could be at risk.

“Two years is a short period in the context of the intergenerational change we want to see – but it’s enough to build the evidence we need to continue expanding this way of working more widely.

“Our tamariki and their whānau will be supported earlier and faster and the number of children entering state care will continue to reduce.”

ENDSNotes for Editors

Early work on the prototype began in December 2019 and it has been co- designed by the Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency working in partnership with Oranga Tamariki, Te Puni Kōkiri, and ACC. Agencies will work with the Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency to finalise the partnership and it is expected to begin early 2021.

Te Puni Kōkiri and Oranga Tamariki are each investing $15.9 million, and ACC is investing $10.4 million over two years.