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
  •  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.  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 show 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.

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). Our parenting programme takes 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.

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 parenting programme.

Canterbury’s Integrated Service Response (ISR) to family violence identified compromised parent-child attachment as well as a lack of support for children who had entered safe houses. 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 more than 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.