Family programme revamped to focus on risk of child abuse

NZ Herald Mar 26, 2011
A $30 million programme for New Zealand’s most vulnerable families will be regeared to focus on families which need it most, especially where there is a risk of child abuse. Family Start has been under a cloud since researchers found a Hawaiian programme that inspired it had failed to reduce child abuse. But under the revamp, it will get a fulltime director in the Ministry of Social Development and a team of specialist advisers who will work with the agencies that provide the service in 32 local areas.
Family Start Manukau chief executive Colleen Fakalogotoa said the 32 local agencies would be grateful for the new advisers. “Providers have done the best they can with as much as they know, but there is a lot of other information out there that we haven’t been able to access.” She said the 13 criteria for selecting families for the programme were too wide and did not include the risk of child abuse. “You can come in with a baby under 12 months under any one of those criteria,” she said. “For example, a housing problem. It’s very hard to gear up a child abuse programme when all they want is a house.” Wilson Irons of the Anglican Trust for Women and Children, which runs the programme in central Auckland, agreed it needed “a more targeted approach”. “At the moment it’s a broad approach which tries to cover everything from preschool education through to health through to child neglect and abuse,” he said.