In 2019, the Government allocated $10 million over four years to test a model which will provide enhanced support for young parents with the highest needs and their whānau.

Pilots in three DHBs – Lakes, Counties Manukau and Hauora Tairawhiti – will deliver culturally appropriate, whānau-based care for up to 40 families each over three years.

The purpose is to support young parents and their whānau to access the health and social support they need as they transition to parenthood. It is expected the pilots will offer intensive parenting help, and improved access to health and wellbeing care, leading to better outcomes for their children.

The first pilot in Lakes DHB is run by Well Child Tamariki Ora provider Tipu Ora in Rotorua. Their project, Tiaki Whānau, began in November 2020.

The other two pilots are planned to begin in 2021. Pilots will provide each whānau with a key worker (nurse, kaitiaki or social worker) who is supported by a multi-disciplinary team – which could be a combination of nurse, social worker, lead maternity carer, mental health worker or other appropriate support.

This team will provide young parents and their whānau with the additional support they need for three years, starting early in pregnancy. Support may include health care, mental health support, help with access to social services, housing or education, or helping whānau learn more about parenting and child development.

Key workers each have a smaller number of families to care for, allowing more intensive support and strong continuity based on whakawhānaungatanga (building and fostering meaningful relationships).

The three pilots  will be evaluated  to determine whether there are improved outcomes for young parents, their tamariki and whānau.

The parents and whānau who participate in the pilot will be referred by community providers if they meet criteria which identifies those who are most in need.

The three DHBs selected for the pilots – Lakes, Counties Manukau and Hauora Tairāwhiti – all have high proportions of young parents, Māori and Pacific peoples, and whānau who live with high socioeconomic needs.

The evaluation of an initial pilot in Hawkes Bay in 2011 completed when children were 6 months of age and repeated when the children were 3 years of age showed improved health outcomes for young mothers and their whānau.