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Another Telethon Needed To Support Parents


How many people felt the irony of the tragic death of another toddler while the country raised money for raincoats and school lunches?
Were we, as Mike Hosking said, ‘fundraising for the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff?’
Isn’t it even more ironic that we are in the middle of a referendum about whether it is a parent’s right to smack their children. Sure, the protagonists argue they don’t want to see children beaten to death but until the deaths stop surely the law should stay the way it is so that parents who aren’t sure whether it is okay or not to hit can’t use the law as an excuse?
And when will any Government get the message and start putting money at the top of the cliff, in the place where some parents are actually desperate for help to be better parents?
Louise Belcher who runs the Family Service Centre in Papakura says, “The people we work with are just longing for guidance in how to be more successful in their family lives.” Isn’t this reassuring and shouldn’t we be doing all we can to make sure these parents are encouraged?
The Family Service Centres – one stop shops for families in low income communities - give this guidance. Their core services include pre-school services, child and family services, Plunket and access to the HIPPY programme (Home Interaction Programme for Parents and Youngsters). There are six centres operating in Mangere, Huntly, Opotiki, Porirua, Motueka and Papakura. Volunteers are fundraising for another one in Takanini where there is desperate need after a 32 per cent increase in the birth rate in the past year.
The Family Service Centres offer education, counseling, parent education programmes, health services and social worker support as well as programmes for educating children.
Over 40 different agencies recommend families to the service centres. The problem – there isn’t enough of them and funding is urgently required to get more under way.
If we want to do better by struggling families and ensure children actually get to school ready to learn then the Government needs to help parents help themselves. Perhaps if needy families had a nearby HIPPY programme and the other support they get from Family Service Centres, there may be no need for the lunch handouts.
 HIPPY is a  home based programme for educational enrichment of children.. ( Introduced by the tireless advocate for children, Lesley Max, in 1992, there are now 24 sites nationwide teaching parents to do, amongst other things, that most basic of parent behavior – to talk to their children.
 “Did you know you’re meant to talk to your kids?” one young mum of six was overhead asking her mum, having learned this information from her HIPPY tutor. With tools to encourage and teach her children, suddenly her children are co-operative and happy sounds are heard in her house.
HIPPY helps parents lay the foundation for their children’s success in school and later life. It is a programme specifically designed for parents who are not confident or may not have had good parenting or schooling experiences themselves..
Many school principals who have seen HIPPY in action wholeheartedly support it.
Darren Smith, principal of St Leonard’s Primary in Kelston, says HIPPY is the best parenting programme he has ever seen, empowering parents to be the very best teachers of their children. It is about the community helping the community. Families helping families.
We need another Telethon so we remove the ambulance and truly help those in need to be the best parents they can be. Then we really protect and support our children. By supporting all parents and children we create a safer and happier society for our own children to live in. Who will help us?

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