A social worker is working in five Northland kindergartens as a way to provide early interventions for vulnerable children.
Chrissie Browne, who has previously worked for Family Works in Whangarei as a Social Worker in Schools (a Government initiative) and is also a qualified early childhood teacher, is now working in five Whangarei kindergartens as part of an initiative by Family Works, a not-for-profit organisation.
Family Works Northern's Whangarei site manager Margie Matthews said the two-year pilot role, which has been funded by a private bequest and the Tindall Foundation, was about early intervention.
"We know that if children suffer from neglect, trauma and poverty they are less likely to engage in school and also in pre-school.
"This role is very much needed because we know that the earlier we start working with vulnerable children and their families, the better the outcomes will be," she said.
The five kindergartens Ms Browne is initially working in are Hora Hora, Tikipunga, Manaia View, Raumanga View and Te Timatatanga O Te Matauranga.
Family Works Northern general manager Laurie Pedlar said there were no particular incidents which sparked the idea for the initiative but said they thought there was a need in early childhood education centres because of demographic changes in the region including a population increase and an increase of referrals overall.
"[Northland] is a poor community, there is a large number of people moving out of Auckland in to other areas and they're going to places where they're putting huge pressure on housing and jobs," she said.
The five kindergarten were chosen by Northland Kindergarten Association (NKA).
NKA operations manager Barbara Harrison said having a social worker in the kindergartens would take pressure of teachers.
"Families seek out advice around parenting, children's behaviour, health matters and a wide range of other issues.
"Having Chrissie in this role will give them someone to turn to for advice and extra support and this will take a little of the pressure off them and allow them to focus on their core work of teaching children."