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Home-Start Family Services Australia

Home-Start is a Voluntary Home Service in which volunteers offer regular support, friendship and practical help to families with at least one child under 5 where the parents are experiencing difficulty in their parenting roles or are under stress.

Home-Start began in the UK in 1973 with the simple idea that parents and grandparents have a wealth of experience, knowledge and skills that would be of benefit to parents with young children, who are facing difficulties.  There are now 356 Home-Start schemes throughout Britain and 520 schemes world wide.  The first Home-Start scheme in Australia was established in 1989 in Newcastle and has been operating with resounding success ever since.  There are currently 19 funded Home-Start schemes in Australia.

Comprehensive preparation of volunteers and continuing support from a paid coordinator enables the Home-Start volunteer to become a significant source of support to parents and their children.  Home-Start volunteers can reassure parents by helping them to build on their strengths, enhance their parenting skills and find pleasure in family life.  They can also help isolated families to make friends, use community resources and help prevent family breakdown.  Home-Start employs a paid coordinator to recruit, train, supervise and support volunteers and link them with a family whom they visit weekly in the families own home.  Volunteers who are usually parents themselves must attend a 10 week training program, and undergo a screening process before being linked with a family.  The Community Solutions Evaluation (1995) of Home-Start Schemes in Australia reported that the model had a number of best practice elements for prevention by early intervention.  These elements include:

  • Recruiting Volunteers
  • Training Volunteers
  • Supervising Volunteers
  • Supporting Volunteers

Documented outcomes for families involved in Home-Start include:

  • Improved parenting skill
  • Increased parental confidence
  • Increased social support networks
  • Reduced social isolation
  • Families linked to wider community
  • Improved immunisation rates
  • reduced risk of child abuse and neglect
  • Reduced risk of violence

Contacts

Location

168 Lambton Road
New Lambton NSW 2305