Did you know?

  • 295000 children in Aotearoa live beneath the poverty line
  •  On average, 15 children a day in New Zealand are placed in care
  •  Police in Canterbury receive a domestic violence call out every four minutes
  •  Nearly half the people living in women’s refuges in Aotearoa are children
  •  New Zealand has the highest youth suicide rate in the developed world
  •  In 2017, 80% of primary school-aged children in Christchurch displayed symptoms of PTSD
  •  Last year, over 2000 children and young people in New Zealand were charged in court. Some were as young as 10 years old
  •  Children with a parent in prison are five times more likely than their peers to commit crimes

 

Home & Family breaks the cycles

The need for family-focused, holistic, evidence-based services such as ours, is well documented.

In September 2017, the CDHB’s clinical director of Child, Adolescent and Family Service (CAF), Dr Harith Swadi highlighted that, “without early intervention in children’s mental health, they stay there stewing until they’re severe and then they come to us.” At Home & Family, our counsellors work with children as young as three and we never turn a child away or allow cost to inhibit someone from accessing counselling.

Our biggest referral reason for children is anxiety. Recent (2017) research by the University of Canterbury found that 80% of Christchurch primary school children exhibit at least some symptoms of PTSD; this is a marked difference from the rest of the country and can reduce children’s readiness to learn. While this is linked to the earthquakes and subsequent anxiety and instability which surrounded most Christchurch children’s early lives, these problems are exacerbated in children in the East of Christchurch. Statistics publicised in June showed that among this group of children and youth 43 per cent suffer from low self-esteem, 28 per cent have self-harmed, 36 per cent suffer from high anxiety or depression and 36 per cent felt no sense of belonging.

We also provide family and couples counselling/therapy; since the closure of Relationships Aotearoa, there is an un-met need for this in Christchurch; family and relationship difficulties were our biggest referral reason for adults in the last year.

All of our services, none more so than our residential parenting programme, address the need for intervention when children are young in cases of intergenerational cycles of abuse. It estimated that the annual economic impact of child abuse, family violence and children being uplifted on New Zealand communities is $2 billion a year.

Anecdotally, adult care-leavers have been saying for many years that intervention to help their parents, rather than only the children, would have had better outcomes for the whole family. Recent Christchurch-based research by Superu corroborates this, saying that a ‘whole-of family approach to address the multiple and complex issues within families and whanau’ is a key protective factor in enabling at-risk young people to achieve good educational and employment outcomes (Superu, April 2017). Both our parenting and our Refocus programmes take this holistic whole-family approach; while placing the child(ren)’s wellbeing at their centre, the parents are included, coached and supported throughout the journey. Moreover, our parenting programme is the only one of its kind in Canterbury to support fathers as well as mothers; in a 12-month period (to 30 June 2017) nearly 1/3 of parents on our programme were men.

The same report also found the need for ‘accessible and supportive social, community and health services, such as counselling to support children and adults through the healing process.’ Our counselling service is accessible for all and supports families and children on our Refocus and our parenting programmes.

Our Refocus programme has both kaimahi whanau and kaimahi rangitahi. Working with the whole family, it is a long-term intervention, which takes place over a number of years. Research shows that while mentoring and role modelling is effective for young people affected by family imprisonment, this is only in cases where the intervention takes place for longer than 12 months. Studies carried out Aotearoa between 2015 and 2016 also found that parenting support was effective in helping break cycles for young people involved in gangs.

Canterbury’s Integrated Service Response (ISR) to family violence identified a lack of support for children who had entered safe houses, as well as compromised parent-child attachment. As a result, Home & Family now offers a unique service, currently targeted at younger mothers and their children, referred by Battered Women’s Trust, to help ameliorate parent/child attachment, enabling families to recover from the trauma of domestic violence. Furthermore, we offer counselling/child focused play therapy for children who have entered safe houses. A New Zealand study published in June 2017 into ‘What works for Children Exposed to Family Violence’ supports this style of intervention, listing that children are best supported by ‘organisations [which’] focus their interventions on therapy and parenting skills delivered to both children and non-abusive parents [and] ensure services are delivered by highly qualified staff who understand how trauma impacts children’s functioning.’ (Superu 2017)

In our 120 years of operation, we have consistently adapted to the meet the needs of the community, meaning our services play a unique, essential and relevant part in creating stronger families and communities.