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Principles and practice

Home-Start Worldwide and all the Home-Start partner organisations around the world are guided by the Home-Start Principles and Practice, agreed in Budapest in 2002.


In 1999, representatives of all Home-Start countries agreed to this statement of the aims, methods and organisation used by Home-Start around the world.

Home-Start International (since 2010 Home-Start Worldwide) is an organisation in which volunteers offer regular support, friendship and practical help to families with young children, primarily in their own homes, helping to prevent family crisis and breakdown.

1. Home–Start works with families who are experiencing a wide range of difficulties and who have at least one child of pre-school age. These families are offered emotional and practical, non-financial support in their homes by volunteers who visit, when possible, for as long as is necessary.

2. Home-Start is committed to the rights of the individual and recognition of the diversity within families. Home-Start respects the special cultural, racial, ethnic and religious traditions that make each family distinct and is sensitive to gender issues and people with special needs.

3. Each Home-Start scheme needs to work towards the increased confidence and independence of the family by:

  • offering support, friendship and practical help to families with at least one child under school-age
  • primarily meeting families in their homes, where their difficulties exist and where the dignity and identity of each individual can be respected and protected
  • reassuring parents that challenges in bringing up children are not unusual and emphasising the pleasures of family life
  • developing a relationship with the family in which the time and experiences can be shared and understanding can be developed; the approach is flexible to take account of different needs
  • encouraging the parents’ strengths and emotional and physical well-being for the ultimate benefit of their own children
  • encouraging families to widen their network of relationships and to use effectively the support and services available within the community

4. Each Home-Start scheme has a special, local support structure of people who are committed to the Home-Start ethos and who may take responsibility for employment and implementation issues. They ensure that appropriate links are developed with other agencies involved in work with young families within the community. In some countries there are groups, who are unpaid, and called Management Committees or Trustees. No representative of a funding agency should chair any committee that is there to support the Home-Start scheme.

5. Normally at least one paid Organiser/Coordinator is employed who has relevant training and experience, and whose duties include:

  • the administration of Home-Start to ensure conformity with the International Statement of Principles and Practice
  • the recruitment, preparation and support of volunteers
  • liaison with other agencies working with families with young children
  • The initial visit to each family. Careful attention is paid to matching volunteers’ skills and experience to the needs of families
  • identifying, with the family and the volunteer, when the need for support is coming to an end and providing any necessary follow-up and evaluation

6. Organisers and volunteers are usually parents themselves or have had parenting experience. Volunteers are supported by Home-Start Organisers and other Home-Start volunteers and where appropriate by professional workers associated with the family.

7. All volunteers attend an initial course of preparation and receive additional information and support to meet

8. The range of referrals or self-referrals accepted is not limited, except where the resources available to Home-Start are not adequate to meet the number or complexity of difficulties experienced by the families.

9. All information about parents and families is confidential, to be discussed only as necessary with the Organiser in support of the volunteer and to assist the family. Any disclosure of the confidential information to any other person may be undertaken only with the express permission of the parents for the purpose of assisting the family, except where it is necessary for the protection of a child when information shall be shared with the appropriate authority.

10. All National Home-Start organisations use the symbol of friendship and the name ‘Home-Start’ as an identifying logo, often with the addition of a national name or other appropriate word in the national language.

11. All National Home-Start organisations retain links with Home-Start International (since 2010 Home-Start Worldwide), and share their training materials, research and information with Hom-Start in other countries, for the ultimate benefit of families.

  • Home-Start International (since 2010 Home-Start Worldwide), has the responsibility to coordinate and facilitate the development of Home-Start in new countries, and therefore all new countries with Home-Start enquiries will be referred to Home-Start International.
  • Home-Start International (since 2010 Home-Start Worldwide), will work to match the needs of new countries with expertise in existing Home-Start countries and will disseminate training material information and guidance.


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