Being a teen parent is hard work, but you do not have to do it alone. There are lots of NZ organisations dedicated to supporting teen parents, and they can help you find the assistance you need. Whether it’s parenting advice, counselling, financial support, or just getting in touch with other teenage parents, there are organisations and agencies who are there to help.
Listed below are some organisations which you may find useful. It is by no means a complete list of agencies in New Zealand, but they are all organisations which have links to local support networks. Use these organisations as a starting point to get help. They will hold your hand through the minefield of decisions, emotions, and lessons you will learn as you begin the parenting journey.
Thrive Teen Parent Support Trust
Thrive Teen Parent Support Trust is a non-profit organisation supporting young people to be thriving and confident as parents and help provide opportunities towards their future. If you would like to know more about any of the services they provide or would like to speak with one of their friendly staff please call 09-5514367 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army is a Christian organisation which offers support to people from all walks of life, right around the globe. Their services are tailored to meet the needs of their community, and include everything from emergency accommodation, to counselling, budget advice, food banks, employment training, rehabilitation, and child care.
In New Zealand they run The Bethany Centre in Grey Lynn, which is a safe haven for young mothers during pregnancy, and in the months after giving birth. Bethany provides live-in accommodation and offers a range of support services including help with income support, parenting skills, life skills, legal issues and education.
Barnardos is a national organisation dedicated to putting children first. They offer a range of family support services which are tailored to meet the needs of individual families. Some of the things they can help you with include counselling, parenting courses and child care. Most importantly they can help you access community resources such as budget advice, financial support, legal assistance, and training programmes.
The Barnardos website, www.barnardos.org.nz, lists the contact details for local offices, and gives you an indication of what services are offered in each area.
Birthright is a national organisation which is committed to helping single parent families. The specific services they offer vary between locations, but many offer practical support with things like second hand clothing and furniture, and tertiary scholarships for parents.
Other services are tailored to meet the individual needs of the families. Fieldworkers work with parents to develop confidence, learn life skills, address parenting issues, and access community resources.
Visit www.birthright.org.nz to find contact details for all 21 offices.
Association of Teen Parent Educators of NZ
The Teen Parent Educators of New Zealand are committed to providing ongoing education to teenage parents. Currently they have 18 member schools across New Zealand, and can help you in your decision to ‘stay at school’ once you become a parent.
The website, www.atpenz.org.nz, provides contact details for local Teen Parent Schools, and also offers links to useful articles.
Other Useful Organisations and Agencies
Work and Income New Zealand
Work and Income will be able to help you with income support. Depending on your age and circumstance, you may be eligible for benefits while you are pregnant. After the baby is born, you should enquire about a Community Services Card, Family Support, Accommodation Assistance, Child Care Subsidy, and the Domestic Purposes Benefit (DPB). If your child has a disability or chronic health complaint, you may also be eligible for a Disability Allowance.
Applying for Income Support can sometimes be quite confusing, and many young parents can feel intimidated. If you are unsure as to what you are entitled to, contact one of the support agencies above and ask for an advocate to come with you.
To apply for Income Support you will need to make an appointment at your local office. Appointments are made through the 0800 line – 0800 559 009. For more information about what you may be entitled to visit www.workandincome.govt.nz
Plunket is the national provider of Well Child Health Services, and is there to support you in keeping your child healthy. Plunket offers all sorts of free services for parents, and many branches offer support groups specifically for teen parents. You can find your local Plunket branch on the Plunket website www.plunket.org.nz
Citizens Advice Bureau
When all else fails and you just don’t know who else to turn to, try contacting your local Citizens Advice Bureau. The Citizens Advice Bureau has an enormous database of community groups, programmes, and services within the community. They will be able to put you in touch with the right people, or at the very least point you in the right direction. To contact the Citizens Advice Bureau, phone 0800 367 222.
Remember, no matter what it feels like right now – you are not alone. There are people everywhere waiting and willing to help. You just need to ask.
If you have not yet told your parents about your pregnancy, consider that their response may not be as bad as you think. If you are truly frightened about breaking the news, contact one of the support groups listed above, and they will help you through it. You do not need to do this on your own.