Research has shown that attending support groups can be extremely positive for stressed caregivers. Attending one can reduce the sense of isolation which can be all too common, provide a safe place to discuss issues (and realise that others are going through similar experiences and you're not alone!), increase both emotional support and knowledge/strategies, and provide many more positive and empowering effects.
* New: monthly online support group now in progress! *
In April 2023 we launched a brand-new ONLINE support group which all caregivers and whānau are warmly invited to join, whether you have a local, in-person support group or not. You can join in at any time. Our online caregiver support group is facilitated by FASD-CAN staff and long-term members, all of whom have lived experience of raising a person with FASD and are highly FASD-informed.
The group meets monthly on Thursdays at lunchtimes between 12.30-1.30pm.
Find out more and register here!
Read on to find regional, kanohi ki te kanohi / face to face support groups around Aotearoa.
FASD-CAN Regional Caregiver Support Groups
Below is a list of FASD-CAN's kanohi ki te kanohi / face-to-face caregiver support groups in Aotearoa.
This group is new and is looking for members! It is facilitated by RuruHana Brownie, our Te Tai Tokerau FASD-CAN Navigator.
Currently there is one meeting per term (next one Friday August 4) but this will be expanded if there is more interest.
RuruHana has a long career in supporting whānau who are doing it tough. Since mid-2022 she has been facilitating our ‘Life with FASD’ caregiver trainings alongside Anna Gundesen, our Navigator in Tāmaki Makaurau. RuruHana’s wonderful empathy and experience working with whānau has been a lifeline for many.
Contact RuruHana if you are interested in joining a support group in Whāngarei: [email protected]
We have two established and one brand-new Auckland caregiver support groups.
North Shore / Hibiscus Coast
This group is a fledgling waiting to fly! Get in touch with Leanne Simonsen if you're north of Auckland and would like to meet others caring for tamariki or rangatahi with FASD.
Leanne says: I live with my husband Mike and home-for-life daughter who is 15 and has FASD, ADHD and ASD. We started fostering her from eight years old – she is a very creative, funny young lady who loves horse riding and her special Olympics ten-pin bowling. Life is very full-on and has a lot of challenges. We also have a young dog, Buddy, who brings our daughter joy and friendship.
To register your interest in this group, please email Leanne at [email protected]
Central-West – Blockhouse Bay
This group meets on the second Tuesday of every month at 7pm – 8.45pm in the lounge of the Church of the Saviour, 2 Heaphy St, Blockhouse Bay. It's for for parents, caregivers and whānau, hosted by caregivers – Anna Gundesen, our Tāmaki Makaurau Navigator and Ross and Trish Porter.
Anna has lived experience as a home-for-life mum of Ms 15. She brings to the group her group facilitation skills and her professional knowledge of FASD. She says the group is a safe haven for whānau, grandparents, aunts, uncles and biological parents to share and be supported by those who 'get it'.
Trish and Ross are parents of four adult children and grandparents to seven. Their youngest daughter, who joined their family as a 14-month-old and is now 24 years old, lives with FASD.
Four years ago Trish moved to the RTLB (Resource Teacher of Learning and Behaviour) service. Previously she had worked as an SLT (Speech Language Therapist) and as a teacher in a Special School, for ORS (Ongoing Resourcing Scheme) funded students. Trish is part of the FASD-CAN Education Advisory Group.
Ross is on the Board of FASD-CAN and is also our Treasurer. He works in finance, supports his community at the church where this group is based and volunteers part-time as a student mentor.
South Auckland – Papakura
This group meets on the first Wednesday of every month at 10.30am – 12 noon and is supported by Tony Kake at Papakura Marae, 29 Hunua Road, Papakura. It's for parents, caregivers and whānau, hosted by Anna Gundesen and Tracey Johnson.
Tracey is a full-time advocate for her young adult son who has FASD. She was a qualified primary school teacher for 10 years, and has also taught at secondary school level. She has volunteered as a learning support assistant at secondary school level for students who did not qualify for funding in the classroom. She supported the ESOL teacher at the secondary school to prepare and deliver lessons at the students’ educational levels. Tracey is also part of our Education Advisory Group.
For more information on either of these groups, please contact Anna on 021 810 965 or email her at [email protected]
Central North Island
Kirikiriroa / Hamilton – facilitated by Teesh Dowie-Lewis
* This group will be meeting at the Western Community Center, 46 Hyde Ave, Nawton, Hamilton from 10.15am to 11.45am on the middle Wednesday of each month.
Teesh says: I am passionate about helping people. I’ve worked with children with FASD for over 25 years and have personally cared for more than 60 children in my own home. I support and advocate for FASD children and their whānau to navigate through the systems of OT, Youth Justice, the courts, the Ministry of Education and Te Whatu Ora / the Ministry of Health. My goal is to pinpoint every FASD child's passion, interest or their special gift and extend this to support them to thrive and succeed in their life journey.
Contact Teesh for further info at: [email protected]
Tauranga – facilitated by Janet Hargreaves-Greer
* This group is brand-new and Janet would love to hear from anyone who is keen to join to discuss what would work for the community in Tauranga.
Janet says: Tena koutou katoa, Ko Ngatokimatawhaoroa te waka, Ko Rakaumangamanga te maunga, Ko Ipiripi te awa, Ko Ngapuhi me Ngati Whatua ki Orakei nga iwi, Ko Ngati Kuta Patukeha, raua ko Ngati Wai nga Hapu, Kei Whāngarei toku kainga whānau, Ko Te Ranga toku kainga, Ko Janet Ann Hargreaves-Greer ahau.
I am a mother of many children – some biological, and others who were gifted to me. One of my taonga is a 10-year-old girl who has FASD, ADHD, ODD, generalized anxiety…. The list of diagnoses goes on! I am a Registered Nurse, living and working in Tauranga. I understand the challenges these neuro-spicy children bring to our lives, and would love to meet you to laugh, console, celebrate and support you to keep up the great work you are already doing. I look forward to meeting you.
Contact Janet for info and to register your interest: [email protected] | Mobile: 021 145 7768
Rotorua – facilitated by Heather Jeffcote
* This group meets on the third Friday of the month from 9.45-11.15am at Rotorua Baptist Church, 100 Malfroy Rd.
Heather says: Kia ora koutou! I am married to Steve and we have four adult children. We now also have the delight and challenge of parenting a seven-year old with FASD. This lived experience has led me on a journey of learning that I’m sure will last a lifetime!
I have a background in education and I’m currently studying to become a facilitator of the FASCETS neurobehavioural model, a way of understanding and supporting people with brain based conditions.
I definitely don’t have all the answers(!) but I know first-hand how important it is to have encouragement and support. I consider it a privilege to walk alongside other carers and whānau members as we support each other in our challenging mahi.
Contact Heather if you’re keen to join this group: [email protected]
Eastern North Island
Ahuriri / Napier - facilitated by Jackie Prichard
* This group has had its first meeting – the next one is July 24 and they are looking for new members!
Jackie says: Hi, I'm Jackie (Jaks). I’m mum to three wonderfully different kids. My eldest son is aged 21 and is living with the effects of FASD, and we have two girls aged 17 and 11. I'm married to a fantastically supportive husband and we live in Napier. Before I had children I was a qualified nanny and I have also worked as a teacher aide. For the last nine years, I’ve been a preschool music leader at a local church and I love every minute of it.
The first time I heard of FASD was when my son was diagnosed, aged eight. It was a crash course in FASD and what it entails! I’ve been supporting him all his life to navigate a world that doesn't understand him and I’m constantly learning and adapting to this new life and adventure.
Contact Jaks if you are interested in a support group in Napier: [email protected]
Lower North Island
Palmerston North – facilitated by Andrea Neil.
This group is new and is keen for new members!
Andrea says: Hi, Andrea, I’m a born-and-bred ‘Palmy’ girl. I live on a little lifestyle block just out of Palmerston North with four generations under the one roof enabling the children to enjoy time with the animals and exploring the bug life.I would describe myself as a family-oriented individual who strongly believes in an approach to life where strengths are identified and solutions are the key focus. My entire working career has been in disability sector until recently, when I moving into the aged care sector.
Contact Andrea if you're interested in a support group in Palmerston North: [email protected]
Pōneke / Wellington
The Wellington support group is made up of both carers and professionals and aims to meet approximately every two months.
Contact Leigh Henderson if you're interested in joining the Wellington support group: [email protected]
Ōtautahi / Christchurch
This group is keen to have new members join. It's facilitated by Tania Henderson, our Ōtautahi FASD-CAN Navigator.
Tania brings over a decade of hands-on experience working with those impacted by FASD to her new role and has consulted at government level on future strategic plans for FASD. All Tania's work is guided by tikanga Māori practices and driven by community need.
Contact Tania if you’re interested in a support group in Christchurch. Call her on 027 407 7798 or email [email protected]
Other Caregiver Support or Networking Groups
(not hosted by FASD-CAN)
FASD-CAN prides itself on its reputation as the hub of FASD knowledge and support, but we are also aware that other groups offer caregiver support.
Caring Families Aotearoa
Parent to Parent
Grandparents Raising Grandchildren
Meetings on the first and third Tuesday of every month at 48 Alma Road, Whanganui.
Contact Susan Edgecombe at [email protected] or call her on 021 022 43078.