Once a referral is received, Home-Start will try to ascertain whether the family has willingly chosen Home-Start and if the referral falls within the remit of Home-start. The organization will also determine if they have the necessary resources to be able to assist the family.
If it is determined that Home-Start is able to help the family, the co-ordinator of the scheme will visit with the family in their own home. This initial meeting is informal and aims to put the family at ease. This meeting also gives the family the opportunity to discuss their particular needs and to get further information about the approach of Home-Start and the services that the organization is able to offer to struggling families.
Home-Start then carefully matches a suitable volunteer with the family, taking the following factors into consideration: the needs of the family; the commitment required; the volunteer's motivation; the volunteer's aptitudes, skills and experience; the ability of the volunteer to be open and accepting of the situation; practical issues such as location, transport and time.
The co-ordinator will accompany the volunteer on the first visit to the family to introduce the family to the volunteer and set the ground rules for visiting. During this meeting it will be necessary to clarify when and at what times the volunteer will visit; what the focus of the visits will be and what the family can expect from the volunteer as well as when and how the support will be reviewed.
Following the introductory meeting, the volunteer will offer regular support to the family. The volunteer also receives support from the co-ordinator in the form of individual and group supervision as well as on-going training as needed. The co-ordinator and volunteer will also meet with the family quarterly to monitor the services.
The success of the Home-Start method is dependent on the relationship that develops between the family and the volunteer. The sharing of the parenting experience is often the common factor from which the family and volunteer develop the relationship.
Through this caring relationship, families may feel confident to share their concerns and express their needs for support. The information that is shared between the families, volunteers and Home-Start will be treated as confidential unless there are concerns about the welfare of the children.