Funding cut concerns families
Two local women have spoken up about the importance of Parents As First Teachers after the government canned funding for the group.
‘‘I would have been screwed without PAFT,’’ Deanna Harrod said.
She said her parent educator acted as a sounding board for her and many of the 124 other clients in the area.
Another client, Sian van Heuven, said PAFT was a lifeline for rurally isolated first time mothers like her.
‘‘PAFT supported myself and other mums who are a little socially isolated with home visits, guidance, information and education to help our children develop during their crucial early years,’’ the English woman who moved from Southampton to Matamata in 2008 said.
‘‘Living rurally and without the support of my family back home, they have provided invaluable support to our family as we try to balance the responsibilities of running a farm and being the best parents we can be.’’
The former nurse said she was saddened at the recent announcement that the government was moving the annual $7.3 million in funding that PAFT had to the Family Start programme instead.
‘‘This is a huge blow for our rural community; I feel this removal of support will have a huge impact on my family and other local families who rely on the service for support.’’
She described the service as an ambulance on top of cliff as she felt having an educator come once a month to their home probably prevented a lot of mothers and children getting into vulnerable states.
Social Development Minister Anne Tolley said making the money more targeted fitted with the government’s social investment approach.
Although van Heuven appreciated what the government were trying to do with the funding, she said regardless of socioeconomics, all mothers needed support.
‘‘PAFT should be available to all communities as all new parents are likely to feel vulnerable at some stage.’’Both mothers urged everyone to sign a petition, which called for the funding to remain.
Sian van Heuven and Deanna Harrod say their children Layla and Eli have really benefited from PAFT.