Plea to retain parenting programme

Sian van Heuven wants others to benefit from the Parents as First Teachers programme as she and daughter Layla have – so is urging people to support the petition to retain PAFT.

Back in 2008 I made the life-changing decision to move from my very much urbanised hometown of Southampton in England to the rolling hills of the Matamata countryside in New Zealand to be a farmer’s wife to my New Zealand-born husband.

Such a drastic change has been somewhat of an emotional roller coaster during the years as I adjusted to my rural life in a new country with a new husband and a new life.

Even more change came about when my child Layla was born in 2014. I now had the added dimension of being a new mum in this farming-based community. Making the transition from being career-led to a stay-at-home mother was fortunately made easier by an organisation known as PAFT – or Parents as First Teachers – which is a research and evidence-based parenting programme that has been running since 1991.

PAFT supported myself and other mums who are a little socially isolated with home visits, guidance, information and education to help our children develop during their crucial early years. Living rurally, and without the support of my family back home, PAFT has provided invaluable support to our family as we try to balance the responsibilities of running a farm and being the best parents we can be.

Huge negative

I was saddened at the recent announcement that the Government is moving the funding for PAFT to a “more targeted programme”. This is a huge blow for our rural community. I feel this removal of support will have a huge negative impact on my family and other local families, who rely on the service for support. It’s also having an impact on the local PAFT educators who will likely lose their jobs as a result of this decision, causing further unemployment in provincial areas.

PAFT has guided me, given me confidence to help my daughter develop good behaviours, achieve milestones, given me ideas and techniques; and I know others in my community share this belief and this passion for the service.

PAFT should be available to all communities because all new parents are likely to feel vulnerable at some stage. Becoming a parent is a huge life-changing experience and it is crucial to provide parents with the support they need during this time.

I urge everyone to stand with our community during this time and to sign our petition calling for the funding to remain for every parent and every child. We need everyone’s support!

Please join the petition to Ministry of Social Development, called Keep PAFT at:


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