Supported home turns teens to parents
Bringing a new baby home from the hospital is terrifying for most first-time parents, but even more daunting for teen parents.
In 2010 Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga recognised a need for young mothers and babies to live in a supported environment and opened Te Whare Karamu the following year.
It’s a simple weatherboard house, on a quiet corner section with space for up to four mothers and their babies.
The home has two house parents, Nani Hungahunga and Helen Folasa-Crichton who take 31⁄ day shifts to ensure someone is always there.
Hungahunga said it was an extremely satisfying role.
‘‘Some girls come in with nextto-no skills, [they] don’t know how to cook, clean or pack a bag for their baby.’’
But over the six to nine months the mothers completed an intensive parenting programme.
They learned to care for a child, cook, clean, budget, save, return to education and collect items to fill their own homes when they leave.
‘‘We have had some mums achieve so much from here,’’ Hungahunga said.
‘‘It’s awesome to see how far they have gone - to see them living in their own homes and be suc- cessful at business and work.
‘‘It’s them believing in what they are capable of and us providing the resources.’’
Over the years different sets of house parents had shared the role, each pair putting their own stamp on it and fine-tuning it.
‘‘But it’s not like a 9 to 5 [social work] job where you are seeing clients once a week, we are sharing part of their life with them, we are on that journey with them.’’
Folasa-Crichton said the role had its moments but they both really enjoyed it.
‘‘It’s like having your own teenagers at home, but you always have to be professional.’’
She said the home was very well supported by the community and people regularly dropped in donations for the mothers.
Hungahunga and her work in the home will be celebrated this Saturday at an International Women’s Day breakfast hosted by Hawke’s Bay’s Zonta Club.
The club will also recognise Geraldine Travers, Hastings District councillor and Hastings Girls’ High School principal.
Tickets to the March 11 event at Hastings St John’s Presbyterian Church are $25.
House parents Nani Hungahunga, left, and Helen Folasa-Crichton with new mother Monique Daley and her baby Maxine.