Minister Launches Family Start In Whangarei

  • Nick Smith
Associate Minister of Social Services, Work and Income (Work and Income)

Nick Smith, Associate Minister of Social Services launched the first of three Family Start services in New Zealand when he visited Ma Te Whanau Timata Trust Family Start programme in Whangarei today.

"The beginning of Family Start services is a significant step towards giving children a better start in life."

"This launch is a tribute to the commitment and energy that local people and organisations have shown by working together to make this service a reality for Whangarei families. I am delighted to see Maori and pakeha providers sharing their strengths to work for better outcomes for children and their families".

The Ma Te Whanau Timata Trust is a new joint venture which brings together effective Maori and pakeha providers. Skilled family/whanau workers, employed by the Trust, will work alongside Whangarei parents in their family home to ensure that children get the best possible start in life.

The aim of Family Start services is to assist individual families help themselves by assessing their needs and strengths, and encouraging those actions that will build a better future for themselves and their families.

Family Start is designed to help families in difficult circumstances when a child is born, and if necessary, right up to the time the child starts school.

The Family Start service in Whangarei is one of three prototype services funded by Government as part of its wider "Strengthening Families" strategy.

Around 120 Whangarei families are expected to be helped by Family Start in the first year of operation, with an increase to over 250 families by the third year of full operation.

Launch functions to mark the start of services at the other two Family Start sites in West Auckland and Rotorua will be held in the coming week. In addition the extension of a similar programme in Christchurch called Early Start is under negotiation.

The three Family Start prototypes and the Early Start extension are funded by Health, Education and Social Welfare at a total of $20 million over five years.

"The effectiveness of Family Start in achieving a positive start for children will be carefully evaluated".