March 5, 2024
Support available for struggling young families

Support available for struggling young families

Struggling with a young family or pregnant and facing challenges?

Waitakere Family Start is able to help. The Family Works service supports parents who are three months pregnant right through to their child’s first three years of life to ensure they get the best start in life.

“We have a lot of success helping parents and caregivers meet their basic needs, including families in poor living situations and women coming out of family violence situations with very little,” says Family Start team leader Rebecca Gross.

“Many of our families have limited family support and find it helpful to have a listening ear. They also like that we’re a home-visiting service which makes life simpler.”

Family Start supports young families by helping parents meet their baby’s growing and changing needs, such as forming a strong bond with their child, finding the right healthcare, keeping their children safe and accessing other services they need. These include counselling and budgeting services, parenting programmes and legal advice like protection orders.

Family Start’s team of qualified social workers also offers parenting support and assistance with accessing daycare to ensure parents get some time out from their children.

For example, when Family Start first met Mary and Simon’s* family, they were living in poor quality accommodation that was too small for their young family. Mary was pregnant and the couple were unemployed. They had a history of family violence but had sought support and were actively trying to change this.

“We worked with other agencies to try and secure Mary and Simon better accommodation. At the same time, our Family Start social worker assisted with meeting their basic needs with kai, bedding, toys and clothing. We helped the family access dental and medical services and organised budgeting support, which also checks they are receiving their correct entitlements.

“Then our Family Start social worker organised educational and counselling resources for the oldest child as well as enrolment in early childhood education.

“Our Family Start social worker became a trusted visitor to their home and provided practical and emotional support through the COVID-19 lockdowns, Cyclone Gabrielle and other weather events. By the time their youngest child turned four, Mary and Simon’s overall family situation had improved a lot and they no longer needed the Family Start service.”

Families using the Waitakere Family Start service range from grandparents raising grandchildren to parents with children who have disabilities to young parents. Families struggling with mental health issues, family violence, drug and alcohol problems or have Oranga Tamariki involvement, also use the service.

The Family Works Waitakere Family Start service is run in partnership with The Fono and is available to families living in the New Lynn to Hobsonville and Helensville areas, from Greenhithe to Albany on the North Shore and Albany to Wellsford, including Warkworth.

All parents or caregivers need to access Family Start is a referral from their doctor or hospital, midwife, Plunket nurse, Well Child provider or other agency like Maternity Mental Health or Oranga Tamariki. To contact Waitakere Family Start phone 09 835 1288 or email

* Names changed to protect privacy.