Family Start Service

Elizabeth Timms and baby Asher-Joseph catch up with Community Support Worker - Family Start Juanita Roys using the resources that teach whānau how to interact with their pēpi.
September 19, 2019

Resources and Support to give whānau their best start

The FamilyStart service at Te Kupenga Hauora - Ahuriri walks alongside hapū māmā, whānau and their tamariki up to 5 years old. Qualified teacher Juanita Roys is one of the Community Support Workers on the Family Start team who is dedicated to not only building up tamariki but also helping to build up parents. By using a range of resources, she explains, “we teach parents how to be positive parents.”

Juanita’s background in schools has highlighted for her the ongoing issues children have in their education if parents don’t know how to interact and provide learning experiences early on. It’s all about helping tamariki develop. “We focus on teaching the parent. I say to them, if you can learn these simple skills, we can help reduce separation anxiety or even anger issues.”

Getting parents onto the floor and interacting with their pēpi and tamariki is one of the key steps the Community Support Workers use to promote interaction. The colourful mat creates a fun, vibrant space for activities including the use of a number of resources that are easy to make at home. “Our resources give whānau ideas of what they can make themselves. You don’t have to go and buy from the shops. Things collected free from the beach or sourced from your kitchen can make great ‘toys’ for you and your tamariki to play with together.”

Each whānau has a personalised plan with goals and during sessions the Community Support Workers educate them on how certain games help tamariki grow. “Peek-a-boo(object permanence) for example, helps reduce separation anxiety. It teaches pēpi that the adult goes away but then eventually comes back. It contributes to building their confidence.” Singing and using te reo or incorporating language that relates to the family’s culture is another great way for parents to spend time with their children.

Mum to four-month-old Asher- Joseph, Elizabeth Timms says, “It’s like having a friend I can ask for reassurance from. I know we’re not being judged.” Dad Clarence John says, “The personal support is awesome. You don’t feel like just a number like with some services.”

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