Family Start

The Herald reports:

The Government’s biggest home visiting programme is under review after researchers found its US counterpart failed to reduce child abuse.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett has called for an evaluationof the former Labour Government’s flagship programme, which costs $29 million a year.

Ahem. That programme was not a Labour flagship. It was started by National in the late 1990s.

It follows the discovery by American researchers that Healthy Start in Hawaii – the model for the New Zealand version – did not prevent abuse, mainly because workers did not have enough training to recognise the danger signs and take action.

The researchers also found the strategy had shifted from home visitors identifying the key triggers of abuse – such as violence, drug and alcohol abuse and post-natal depression – to “strength-based” goal-setting by the families themselves.

One mother’s goal, approved by the home visitor, was “to be happy”.

Hmmn. I not conversant with the details of how it has morphed over time, but it used to be regarded very highly as making a real difference with some dysfunctional families. It sounds like they are skimping on training, and have gone a bit politically correct if it is now all about goal setting instead of identifying and preventing abuse.

Professor Anne Duggan, who led the research into Healthy Start and is working as a visiting specialist in Auckland, said New Zealand’s Family Start seemed to be “a wonderful resource for families” and she did not think it should be scrapped.

I would hope it is not scrapped also. If changes are needed, change them but the concept of a one stop support shop for families is I think a very sound one.

Oh and can some-one shoot the sub-editor:

FAMILY START
* Cost: $29 million a year
* Created by Labour in 1998
* Goal: Providing home-based support for families with high needs and identifying key triggers before problems occur.
* Problem: Lack of training to recognise danger signs of child abuse.
* Researchers found that Healthy Start in Hawaii, on which Family Start was based, did not prevent abuse and merely allowed families to set their own targets.

I can almost excuse a general assumption being wrong about which Government started it, but not knowing Labour was not Government in 1998 is inexcusable.

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