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Trust Endorses Family Court Judge’s Comments

29 June 2005

Family Help Trust Endorses Family Court Judge’s Comments

We need earlier intervention and more of it. That today from one of New Zealand’s most successful social support agencies following comments by Principal Youth Court Judge, Andrew Becroft.

Judge Becroft said yesterday that help is desperately needed for problem children and their families, and the earlier the better. He is reported as saying, “If the community really took seriously criminal offending, we would have comprehensive earlier intervention.”

Family Help Trust Clinical Service Manager, Bill Pringle, also agrees with child development researcher, Richie Poulton, who yesterday told a Youth Horizons conference in Wellington, “Human beings are malleable – you can make a difference if you intervene early.”

Mr Pringle says early intervention is the main key to the success the Trust is seeing every day when it comes to turning lives around and stopping our children from dying. He says the focus on early intervention and its success is nothing new.

“From the Roper Report in the 1980’s to the recent study carried out by Psychologist, Dr. Nick Wilson, getting in early and working long term with high risk families at the really tough end of the spectrum really works,” he says.

But Children's Commissioner Cindy Kiro has been reported as saying labeling children as potential offenders is worrying, asking, “If we can identify young offenders by three, then it begs the question of why we don't stop them with early intervention?”

Bill Pringle suggests a lack of funding may be part of the answer and the definition of early intervention also needs looking at.

“Focusing on early intervention when children are 3 or younger is critical. We suggest working with a family while the mother is still pregnant. It’s often too late when children are teenagers,” he said. “Our programmes are intensive and long-term. We are changing ingrained attitudes, providing choices for families, supported by a service which can work with them for up to five years. The long term commitment combined with early intervention is absolutely key to our success,” he says.

The Family Help Trust social workers have seen approximately 365 families in the last 15 years and worked with more than 1000 children. The Trust is supported by donations and grants.


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