Working in partnership with the Ministry for Vulnerable Children – Oranga Tamariki and its Hamilton Children’s Team, the six month pilot will focus on proactively helping children aged 0-18 years of age who are living in Hamilton and who are going without the essential items needed for their wellbeing.
KidsCan CEO and Founder, Julie Chapman, says the charity has always had the intention to help all Kiwi kids living in hardship, not just those in low decile schools so the in-home pilot is an exciting milestone for KidsCan.
“We know from the past 12 years’ experience providing basic items in school – food, a raincoat, shoes and socks, along with basic health and hygiene items – benefit those children greatly as they’re more engaged in learning and less worried about just surviving. This pilot goes a step further, providing essential items in the home environment to help make sure our most at-risk children get to school in the first place.
“When I say essential items, I mean just that. For example, we’re going to be providing beds so these children can actually sleep on a mattress with sheets, a pillow, and a blanket or duvet, and not on a couch or even the floor where some are sleeping at the moment,” explains Chapman.
The pilot will run alongside KidsCan’s successful in-school programmes which already helps 168,000 children in 700 schools across 16 regions. It is being separately funded with support from KidsCan’s existing retail partner Harvey Norman (in association with AH Beard and their suppliers) and other generous supporters.
In addition to beds and bedding, other items being distributed during the pilot include feminine hygiene, personal/family hygiene and oral hygiene products along with clothing.
KidsCan and its pilot partner the Ministry for Vulnerable Children – Oranga Tamariki believe that working alongside families and whanau, and providing items in the home will improve the children’s health, along with their mental and physical wellbeing.
“The goal is to make sure these children are in a better position to go to school, be actively involved in class and learn. That way they have a better chance at a brighter future and to break the cycle of hardship and dependence,” says Chapman.
The parameters of the pilot mean it will only encompass children living in Hamilton who are referred to, or are already under the care of Oranga Tamariki’s Hamilton Children’s Team and their multi-agency lead professionals.
“We have a dedicated group of community frontline professionals who are excited by this opportunity to help further our commitment to provide intensive, timely and effective support to children in our community,” says Deanne McManus-Emery, Hamilton Children’s Team Director, Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki.
An evaluation will be conducted alongside the pilot in partnership with the Faculty of Education and Social Work at the University of Auckland with a view to rolling it out nationally.