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Minister for Children Anne Tolley says a total of $49 million is being invested in Budget 2017 to boost Family Start, an intensive home visiting programme.

Mrs Tolley today visited Ngati Awa Social and Health Services, Tuwharetoa ki Kawerau and Te Pou Oranga o Whakatohea in Whakatane. This additional funding will help all three providers extend their Family Start programme into rural areas in the Bay of Plenty.

“It’s important to intervene early and target support to our vulnerable families and whānau who are struggling with challenges that put health, education and social outcomes for their children at risk,” Mrs Tolley says.

“Family Start is an evidence based programme with proven results where funding is aligned to support New Zealand families with the highest needs.

“Last month we announced an extra $28.1 million for Family Start as part of the Government’s $321 million Social Investment Package. This funding will increase the number of Family Start places by around 570 a year, ensuring that the programme is available throughout the country.

“Budget 2017 also invests an extra $20.9 million to increase the per family funding rate for Family Start from $5,700 to $6,500 per year. This will enable providers to deliver high quality services by suitably qualified professionals across the country.

“This extra funding means a total of $49 million will be invested into Family Start which will provide intensive support for around two years to over 7,100 at-risk families at any one time.”

Research shows Family Start can help reduce infant mortality, lead to higher child immunisation rates and participation in Early Childhood Education, as well as increase mothers’ use of community-based mental health services.

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