01904 674764 support@homestartyork.org.uk49 Cemetery Road YORK YO10 5AJ

Information for Referrers 

To help give children the best possible  start  in  life,  Home-Start  supports   parents as they grow in confidence, strengthen their relationships with their children and widen their links with the local community.

General Guidelines:

Families must have at least one child under 5, live within the City of York area, and have given their consent to the referral.  Self referrals are accepted.

Volunteers offer a weekly visit  to families on a regular basis but should not be seen as home-helps or childminders.

Home-Start is not a crisis organisation and cannot offer short-term crisis help.

Home-Start volunteers are able to help:

Families who are new to the area and lack support of friends and family.

Families with several children under school age, needing encouragement and an extra pair of hands.

Families where circumstances such as health worries, inadequate housing, redundancy or financial difficulties have brought extra pressures.

To give reassurance and encouragement to young or first-time parents, who are bringing up a family single-handed.

Lonely, isolated parents who need someone to encourage emotional health, acknowledge their parenting role, help them widen their social networks and make use of community resources.

Families who have parents or children with special needs or disabilities.

Guidelines to note before making a referral:

Our aim is to help any family where there is or may be temporary breakdown or difficulties, where a period of support by Home-Start may make a difference.

Family situations where there are chronic ongoing, long-standing problems, where there is likely to be little change over a long period may not be appropriate for referral.

Family situations where there is active alcohol or drug dependency are not suitable for referral.

Complex family situations where other professionals are currently actively involved on a regular basis may not be appropriate for referral to Home-Start, but may be in the future when professional involvement lessens, and more time is available for the family to spend with the volunteer.

Families in which domestic violence is a live issue are not suitable for referral, however, it may be entirely appropriate to refer at a later stage when the threat of violence is diminished.

About the volunteer:

Volunteers have parenting skills, understand the pressures of bringing  up a young family and have all taken part in a course of preparation for visiting.  They are screened by the Criminal Records Bureau before linking with families, and receive ongoing supervision and training from the organiser.

How to refer:

Initial contact is by telephone. We will ask for some details about the family situation and appropriate background information on the family and their needs.

If we agree that your referral enquiry is appropriate and that we have the necessary resources to offer support to the family, a referral form will be forwarded for you to complete.

On receipt of completed referral form, an organiser will contact the family to arrange a visit.  We try to do this within 14 days of receipt of the form.

Referrers will be informed when Home-Start support begins and when it ends.

The volunteer is supervised by an organiser and enquiries about our involvement with the family should be made to the organisers.

Matching a family with a volunteer is done as carefully and sensitively as possible, and Home-Start endeavours to meet the individual needs of each family.  There will be occasions when families may have to wait for a suitable volunteer.  If this is the case we inform families and referrers at the outset and try to be realistic about waiting times.


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

Have a complaint?  Please contact the Chair of Home-Start York at our office address.

Registered Charity No: 1161151