Annual Report 2022-2023

Children & Youth Service: A Year of Growth, Collaboration and Success

We are proud to highlight some of the achievements and growth of our Children & Youth service over the past year. We have continued to grow the service; we have strengthened our work across the sector, and we have continued our work at both national and international levels.

A key highlight this year has been welcoming two new team leaders into the leadership team: Liz Kay and Cheryl Spykerman. We have also grown the team of Facilitators around the country.

Our ongoing commitment to collaboration is evident through our work alongside the Ministry of Education staff, Ko Taku Reo Deaf Education NZ and the Cochlear Implant Programmes. We are particularly proud of our close collaboration with The Hearing House, through which we have initiated a fortnightly play group for families with deaf children 0-5 years. These sessions, prepared and delivered by our Facilitators, provide a fun, safe NZSL (New Zealand Sign Language) environment where families can develop their bilingual/bimodal skills. We are excited to be opening playgroup sessions in Waikato also.

Feedback from families in the First Signs service:

“We are so grateful this service was available.”

“Thank you for your support. Debra is very patient with us.”

Our work with young people has been to provide advice and guidance to families with school aged children and for high school students in their final years, we have supported their transition out of school.

Investing in our team’s professional development has been a top priority this year. We have organised various in-house zoom sessions on critical topics such as assessing language. Additionally, we accessed external experts via Zoom to develop awareness in areas such as CCS Disability Action and Autism. At our full staff training event, the team focussed on the concept of reflective practice and how it can improve the service we carry out with families and young people.

To celebrate International Week of Deaf People this year we hosted a webinar. We invited parents of young deaf children as well as young deaf adults, to be on a panel. The panel shared with the audience their experiences of learning NZSL and the significant role it plays in their family. The webinar was a success, and we look forward to hosting more webinars in the future.

Feedback from webinar:

“It was a really positive and helpful session”

“Please, please, please do more of these!”

We look forward to building upon this success, fostering even stronger collaborations, and continually enriching the lives of deaf children, young people, and their families/whanau.

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