Giving vulnerable babies a better start in life

The Petal Foundation is the only specialist care facility in Tāmaki Makaurau for babies born to mothers who use drugs or alcohol.

Published: Rāmere, 11 Whiringa ā-rangi, 2022 | Friday, 11 November 2022

Their kaupapa provides much needed respite and expert care for baby while mum, whānau or carers get the break they need.

“Babies born addicted can be challenging to care for, with underlying health problems,” says Clinical Lead Megan.

“Babies end up involved in everyone’s trauma and it’s very sad. Petal is here to lovingly care for baby, particularly in the crucial four weeks of life, which can significantly improve their future outcomes,” added Megan.

Petal was created in 2016 and offers an alternative to babies being uplifted from their addicted mothers. 

“Mums struggle to identify who to trust and do not want their babies to be put into state care. A lot of tough factors like mental health can mean it is hard to break away from addiction, so having a safe place for their baby to go is important,” Megan said.

Petal Foundation is part of a wider network of agencies who support the wellbeing of whānau. 

“We work alongside CADS (Community Alcohol and Drug Services), Whānau Ora and social services to support mum and babies healing together with our help.

“We are worried about grandparents too. What if they need support? Some end up as the primary caregiver and need respite themselves,” said Megan.

Thanks to funding from Te Puni Kōkiri Whānau Centred Family Violence Fund, Petal has been able to upgrade its digital presence and showcase the important mahi they do.

“The support from Te Puni Kōkiri has blown us away. It will make a huge difference in how we communicate what we are about,” added Megan.

Tāmaki Makaurau Senior Advisor Dr Jacqueline Matthews has been working closely with Petal, to awhi their whānau-centred approach.

“Unfortunately, most babies with Petal are Māori. It’s important that social services, whānau, kaumatua and kaimahi work together in a holistic way to give baby the best start in life,” said Jacqueline.

The Petal Foundation website is now live and features kaumatua Rangi McLean and Mereteowai Pou, as well as the voice of māmā and support staff.