Tips for whānau supporters Background on the Parenting Resource

 We talked with our colleague Lorraine Tarrant who has been working on the Parenting Resource for the last 5 years.

What is it?

It’s a website. Its original purpose was to provide child development and positive parenting information to people who support young families in a way that encourages conversations with whānau about their dreams for their children. The prime audience was the Family Start whānau workers who had previously used a parent support and development curriculum which originated from the U.S.A. We asked them what they wanted to replace that curriculum. We used surveys and face to face hui to communicate with them.

Why did you develop it?

They wanted a home- grown resource that worked for all New Zealand whānau, with non-prescriptive, evidence-based information. It needed to be flexible and able to be added to as new information and links came to hand.

Our initial task was to create a resource to be used in home visiting with families of children aged pre-natal to 3 years of age. Since then we’ve extended the age to 5 years of age and added two more sections.

We already had the parents and whānau resources. A few years previously we had written a series of booklets, Whakatipu. The main target audience for that was Maori parents and whānau with children pre-natal – 5 years. In a way we saw the Parenting Resource as the practitioner’s training manual to sit alongside Whakatipu. The SKIP resources, including Whakatipu, pamphlets, videos, posters, fridge magnets were the parents’ resources. The Parenting Resource was for the worker. The SKIP resources and the website sit alongside each other - a complete package.

Who was involved?

A small group of three of us started off doing the actual writing. Today it’s just me. Brainwave Trust wrote the neuroscience information and checked anything we wrote about brain development and attachment. Everything was reviewed by content experts and experienced practitioners. We tried to give practical ideas about ‘how’ to get the conversations going, as well as what to talk about, so it was very important that experienced home visitors critiqued the work. An editor checked every word before it was loaded on to the site. My colleagues here have been wonderfully supportive. 

How does it compare to other similar websites?

I don’t think there are any similar. Well not obviously anyway. There are probably some curricula-type websites but nothing open, free and accessible to all. You’d probably have to pay and join up to access those sites.

What does it look like now?

There are three sections. The original Home Visiting 0 – 5 years, a Group Programme which provides a kete of workshops that people can construct their own and a section called Whanau Supporters which contains tools and videos for the support worker. A new tile has been added catering specifically to the support of teen parents. New videos and articles are being added all the time. We’ve added more Maori vocabulary especially in the areas of communication between adults and tamariki.              

Are you pleased with the result?

Yes, I am, but more importantly the people it was developed for use it and use it well. Along the way it’s been reviewed favourably by academics and content experts. It’s not just Family Start who use it. We’ve had lots of positive feedback from community people, whānau supporters, parent organisations and parents themselves.

It’s been a fascinating project and I count myself very lucky to have been part of it at this late stage of my career. From the time I first took my daughter to Play Centre over 50 years ago I’ve been involved in supporting whānau to realise their dreams for their tamariki. This ambition has taken me down many interesting paths and it’s appropriate that in this day and age it ends up with a website.