• Kowhai Consulting

What Is Family Start- How To Get Started

Updated: Oct 10


Family Start is a free and voluntary home visiting programme that provides support to whānau with tamariki/children under the age of five. The aim of this programme is to improve outcomes for children by improving their health, learning and relationships.


What Is Family Start


Family Start: Supporting Tamariki and Their Whanau

Families are the backbone of our society. When families are strong, communities thrive. That is why Family Start is so important. This programme is a FREE early childhood home visiting programme (0-5) that works with whānau to ensure that tamariki/children have the best possible start in life. By improving a child’s health, learning and relationships, we can help them reach their full potential. If you want to learn more about our Family Start programmes, keep reading!


About Family Start


Family Start is a Free and voluntary home visiting programme that provides support to whānau with tamariki/children under the age of five. The aim of this programme is to improve outcomes for children by improving their health, learning and relationships. Family Start works with families in order to achieve these goals and help them thrive as they raise their children.

There are many benefits to participating in Family Start. Some of these include:

- improved health and well-being for children

- better relationships within the family unit

- increased engagement with education and learning

- positive social networks

If you would like more information about Family Start, or if you think your whānau could benefit contact Kowhai Consulting Services, we support families throughout the Waikato region.


How Family Start works


A Family Start whānau worker will visit you at home, starting once a week, and get to know you, your child, partner and whānau. They will find out what parts of being a parent you've already got sorted and what you need help with. They will also help you get the right health care for your child, and support you with a variety of other needs you might have.

The whānau worker will also connect you with other services and supports in your community so that you can get the help you need to be the best parents possible. Families who have a child aged 0-5 years old are eligible for Family Start. The programme is free to access, and there is no cost to the family.


A whānau kaitiaki will:

  • Visit you at home, starting with once a week and get to know you and your whānau.

  • Find out what parts of being a parent you’ve already got sorted and what you need help with.

  • Help get the right health care for your child.

  • Put you in touch with other help or services you need.

  • Explain how your baby is growing and changing at different ages as they grow.

  • Help you work out what you want to achieve, change or improve, and make a plan with you to help you get there.

  • Support you to keep your child safe and in good health.

  • Help you solve problems as you work towards your goals


Criteria For Family Start Programme


There are two categories of criteria for Family Start.

  1. List A sets out the main criteria for Family Start. Families need to experience challenges in one of these areas to be referred.

  2. List B sets out other areas where families may have challenges. Here is the full list according to Oranaga tamariki.

Below is the criteria summarised and simplified from kowhai Consultings Family Start referral form. If you are still not sure if you meet the criteria, please contact family start providers such as Kowhai Consulting services and we will help you. Please remember if you are worried that you do not qualify there is always exceptional circumstances where kowhai or other agencies can still accept referrals and support you and your child.


LIST A - Family Start criteria
  • Mental health issues / concerns

  • Difficulties with drugs & alcohol

  • Problems with family/partner

  • Past/Current involvement with Oranga Tamariki

  • Child health and development problems

(Please consider indicators in List B below)


LIST B - Additional
  • Lack of positive support networks

  • Low income

  • Moved house more than once in last 6 months

  • Left school early

  • Criminal justice involvement

  • Health and Safety concerns for yourself / child

  • A young parent under 18 years old

How to join the Family Start programme


If you are interested in joining Family Start, all you need to do is contact an agency provider in your area such as Kowhai, and fill out a referral form, and the provider will do the rest. Referrals to Family Start can be made by healthcare professionals, community workers, family, friends, or parents can self-refer. By filling out the family start referral form, the agency will get a better understanding of who you are and the best way to support you and your child. To find out more about Kowhai Consulting, visit our website, and we will be more than happy to answer any of your questions and help get you started on this amazing programme.


About Kowhai Consulting

Kōwhai is a family-owned social service company. We provide support services and advice to families in need. Kōwhai empowers whanau to achieve positive outcomes and break negative intergenerational cycles. Our company is dedicated to empowering all people in Aotearoa. We are based in the Waikato region with the corporate office in Hamilton and service hubs in the extended Waikato region. We have a dedicated and qualified team who specialise in education and social work.


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