Auckland toddler, Ronny, has five older brothers and sisters. They don't live together in the same house, though. The others were taken away because of all the incidents of family violence. Ronny's parents had a turbulent relationship which often turned violent - and it caused serious problems for the kids at home.
And now, Ronny’s mum Carla was at risk of losing day-to-day care of him, too. She was desperate for help – and found it in an unlikely place, a community cultural festival.
It was here Carla came across Te Korowai Mokopuna (TKM), a unique new service for Auckland families in need.
Te Korowai Mokopuna (TKM) is an innovative pilot project bringing together, for the first time, two leading children’s charities – Save the Children and Barnardos New Zealand. It aims to connect with New Zealand’s hardest-to-reach children and families, and help them get the help they need to make positive change. Specially trained Kaimanaaki Whānau Workers are based at four Barnardos Early Learning Centres across South Auckland, getting to know whānau and communities at grassroots level.
Whatever it takes
Ronny’s mum Carla had found the help she needed. She was willing and determined to do whatever it took to keep her youngest child in her care – and her Whānau Worker worked alongside her to make sure she succeeded.
The TKM Whānau Worker made a plan with Carla. They worked with Child, Youth and Family and set up an agreement that laid out how Carla would keep Ronny safe and cared for. It included counselling for Carla, going on a parenting course and getting Ronny into early childhood education.
The Whānau Worker also helped to provide food and clothing when the family was most in need. At Christmas time businesses gifted toys to Barnardos, and the Whānau Worker delivered a big bag of these gifts for Ronny. When Carla saw the smile on Ronny’s face as he opened his parcels on Christmas morning, she was even more determined to do whatever it took to give him a happy future.
A fresh start
With support from TKM, Carla made the very courageous decision to separate from Ronny’s father and make a fresh start. After the split, Carla initially struggled to find a permanent place for her and Ronny to live. They slept on friends’ couches, living out of a suitcase.
The Whānau Worker helped them secure temporary housing, which then led to a permanent solution through Housing New Zealand.
Now they feel safe and have a house they can call home. Ronny has his own bed in his own room. He has space to safely run and play, where he feels secure and happy.
Ronny is now attending an Early Childhood Centre in South Auckland, and he’s thriving. The socialisation is helping his behaviour and he’s starting to trust people more. In fact, when he sees the TKM Whānau Worker these days, he runs up to her with a smile and gives her a hug.
The support from TKM was vital in keeping Carla positive and focused on what she needed to do to give Ronny the childhood he deserves –free of violence and trauma.