Introduction to Supporting Families
Through the offer of support, friendship and practical help to parents with young children, Home-Start supports parents as they grow in confidence, strengthen their relationships with their children and widen their links with the local community.
The main focus of Home-Start’s work is to offer informal, friendly and confidential support to families in their own homes through carefully selected and prepared volunteers, who are usually parents themselves.
Families may also be offered support outside the home which complements Home-Start’s core home visiting support, for example, family groups, outings or social events. This support may be available for families who are supported through home visiting, those who need a safe stepping stone to move on and, in particular circumstances, for families for whom support at home is not appropriate nor an option.
Home-Start’s approach to supporting families
Flexibility and openness to be led by the needs of families are at the heart of the Home-Start approach. Developed from the good practice of Home-Start schemes over the years, the information in this section aims to guide schemes’ practice in supporting families.
Home-Start offers support to families within their home in a culturally sensitive way. Support is based on assessed need and respects the diverse range of family structures. Appropriately prepared and trained volunteers and staff work together with families to build their confidence and self esteem. Support outside the home is offered in response to expressed need.
Home-Start Quality Assurance system standard 14
The scheme offers support to families within the Home-Start ethos, priorities and benchmarks.
Home-Start Quality Assurance system standard 14 a
Home-Start support is available to any families who are experiencing stress or difficulties and who have at least one child under the age of five.
Home-Start schemes must work within the Home-Start ethos and Standards and Methods of Practice. All Trustees, staff and volunteers, must be aware of the Home-Start Equal Opportunities Policy and its implementation. They must be sensitive to ethnic origin, religion, culture, disability, gender, sexual identity and family status. Home-Start endeavours to meet the individual needs of each family. Matching a family with a volunteer or introducing them to a group should be done as carefully and sensitively as possible.
The Home-Start approach to supporting families is characterised by:
• a mutual relationship unencumbered by power and money
Each Home-Start scheme aims to ensure that the support provided to families is accessible to all families, who have one child under five years of age, in all parts of the local community. This should be reflected in the scheme’s public relations activities and literature.
Families are encouraged to use effectively the support and services available within the community.
Matching volunteers with families
The organiser/co-ordinator pays careful attention to matching volunteers’ skills and experience to the needs of families.
Home-Start Quality Assurance system standard 14d.5
When matching volunteers with families, a number of practical, rational and intuitive factors are taken into account:
• the family’s needs
To help give children the best possible start in life, Home-Start supports parents as they grow in confidence, strengthen their relationship with their children and widen their links with the local community. Home-Start offers support, friendship and practical help to parents with young children in the local community.
Visiting families at home is basic to the Home-Start approach. Volunteers undertake the core work of the Home-Start scheme in their support for families, visiting them regularly in their own homes. Volunteers offer a realistic, flexible response and a caring attitude rather than a clearly defined method of working.
By sharing their time and friendship volunteers offer families opportunities to develop new relationships, fresh ideas, and enhanced skills and capabilities.
Because of this, families can develop a renewed interest in their children and an improved response to their needs. They gain the confidence to take advantage of other resources in the community.
The work of the volunteer requires a high level of commitment and reliability and will be supported by the Home-Start organiser(s)/co-ordinator(s).
• the commitment required(HOW MANY VISITS A WEEK AND TIMES OF VISIT)
• the volunteer’s motivation
• the volunteer’s aptitudes, skills and experience
• the ability of the volunteer to be open and accepting of the situation
• issues of class, gender, sexual orientation, religion and disability
• practical considerations: geography, transport and time
• mutual interests or life experiences.
The organiser/co-ordinator should give the volunteer a brief description of the family and their needs before agreeing together that the volunteer will be matched with the family. In preparation for the introductory visit the organiser/co-ordinator shares with the volunteer all appropriate information about the family.
Home-Start and confidentiality
All personal information about parents and families is treated as confidential, to be discussed only as necessary with the organiser/co-ordinator in support of the volunteer and to assist the family. Any disclosure of the confidential information to any other person may only be undertaken with the expressed permission of the parents for the purpose of assisting the family, except where it is considered necessary for the welfare and protection of a child when information shall be shared with the appropriate authority.
Standards & Methods of Practice 8.
Home-Start, through a volunteer, develops a very special and privileged relationship with a family. By visiting a family regularly and informally at home, a volunteer becomes a friend, a trusted listener and supporter and is likely to be the recipient of personal and private information. Home-Start has therefore drawn up very careful guidelines for best practice on confidentiality and Home-Start.
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