It’s well known that here in Aotearoa there are big issues when it comes to the wellbeing of our children. We think one part of the jigsaw is changing not just policies, but how we approach issues. It seems clear that the way we’re addressing issues isn’t always working: many of the big issues have been with us for a while, through successive governments, different policies and multiple reforms. So where do we go? Well, as the quote goes, you can’t do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result. So how about we focus on doing things differently?

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This initiative has been underway since 2015, and as we are committed to learning by doing, we thought it was time to evaluate what we did in 2018. This evaluation report begins with a report summary, before presenting the CRC context, the 2018 CRC Action Plan, the evaluation purpose, methods and findings, and implications.

Rather than top-down approaches, we believe big change comes from supporting communities to lead. This means supporting communities to decide what solutions will work best for them, sharing power, decision-making and resources to enable locally-led responses and action. This is what Child Rich Communities are all about.

There is no single model or definition for what a Child Rich Community is. Rather it’s a way of working that is driven by a set of principles that enable people in local places to make positive changes for themselves, their children, their family and the wider community.

A movement takes people, so this is where you come in! We’re currently focused on raising the profile of Child Rich Communities and supporting and connecting like-minded people, organisations and initiatives across Aotearoa so that we can all learn from each other.

Watch some of the Bright Spot communities

Learn more from these locals leading change in their communities. Hear their stories and share their insights into the rewards and challenges of using community-led approaches to support children and families.

Child Rich Communities Inspiring Communities

Meet the Bright Spots

Resources and Reports

2018 Webinars

Child Rich Communities Webinar 1: Connect and Empower!

Child Rich Communities Webinar 2: The Big Picture

Child Rich Communities Webinar 3: It’s all about relationships

You can also check out our Bright Spots webinar from 2017. In this webinar, we examined three lessons that emerged from the Bright Spots report. Lizzie McMillan from Wesley Action Waitangirua and Jenny Jurgens from Whanganui Central Baptist Kindergarten provided great case studies to demonstrate these learnings in practice.

Learn More & Connect

Does this sound like something you’re interested in? Or something you are already doing within your community? Get in touch, join the movement or tell your story.

Project Background


In the past few years, there has been increasing concern about child poverty in New Zealand. The agencies behind this project noticed that the responses to struggling children tend to fit within two strands of work – lobbying and advocacy and targeted intervention by Government, NGOs and the private sector.

Both of these strands of work are important.

However, there is another strand of work that is not always so visible, but is equally important – there are many people working in community-led ways throughout Aotearoa New Zealand. And this work is improving the lives of children and their families.

The aim of this project is to connect and learn from these ‘Bright Spots’ and build support for the role of community led development in child wellbeing.

In early 2015 the organisations – Inspiring Communities, Plunket,  UNICEF and Every Child Counts – came together to begin a project to explore local community initiatives that are making a positive difference to children and families.

First step: The report – Child Rich Communities

To kick-start this project, a report was commissioned to explore Bright Spots across Aotearoa New Zealand. A total of 21 initiatives ranging in size and scale, age, geography and entity type were engaged to learn more about their success factors. Stakeholders from philanthropic and government sectors were also interviewed.

Case Studies

What we did next: Bright Spots Hui

Following the release of the report, the project team asked Bright Spots if there was interest in continuing to grow the project. The response was positive, so a hui was organised in November 2016 for the Bright Spots to get together. The aim was to continue learning from one and another and to discuss where to from here for the Child Rich Communities project.

The hui was a fantastic day of story telling, learning and connecting. At the end of the day a set of actions were agreed to guide the next steps. There was a clear desire to grow community-led ways of working through:

  • More funding for community-led development groups and initiatives
  • Participatory democracy in local communities
  • Community mentors to help with child rich communities methods/practice
  • Supporting parents and families, e.g. support to enable parents to be home with their children longer

Where we’re at now: Growing Child Rich Communities

We have gratefully received funding from S.K.I.P to resource some of the actions from the hui. The funding enabled us to hold three new webinars (2018), three regional training workshops and set up four new regional ‘communities of practice’ aimed at peer-led support for those active in the community-led development/child well-being space.

While this new funding is specific to these activities, we’re keen to continue work on the wider aim of the project to raise awareness, deepen understanding and promote the role of community-led development in child and family well-being.

A movement takes people, so this is where you come in! We’re currently focused on raising the profile of Child Rich Communities and supporting and connecting like minded people, organisations and initiatives across Aotearoa so that we can all learn from each other. If this sounds like something you’re doing or interested in, get in touch!