Catholic Family Support Service developed out of the Home-maker pilot project launched in Hamilton in 1980. The project was an adaptation of a scheme set up in Holland to assist families at home to forestall the need for institutional care. The service started in Hamilton based on that model. The scheme which began as a support for families in crisis, developed to serve also families with temporary problems. Three Opportunity Shops were set up to support the work of the service, and these operated for a number of years. It is noteworthy that the Hamilton Catholic Social Services played a significant role in developing the Homemaker scheme nationwide.
In 1989 Hamilton Catholic Social Services joined forces with the Social Welfare Department and a formalised contract was drawn up. The contract was the first of its kind to be signed by the Department and the Catholic Church. It initially ran for three years, and was known as the Home-builder Service. From 1989 Family Support Service has operated under the auspices of the Catholic Diocese of Hamilton.
In 2000, the Catholic, Presbyterian and Anglican Churches established a new initiative of collaboration in establishing Te Ara Hou village, (a social services village where offices and facilities are provided for their Church, and other compatible social services). This is unique in New Zealand. Carole Fleming was appointed Director over this time.
In 2009, the agency responded to the economic pressures being faced by the community by training six staff to be certified budget advisers. The agency then affiliated with the NZ Federation of Family Budget Services Inc.
Over the next few years the agency ensured the social work staff were registered social workers, in line with current practice, and the Budgeting service changed to a financial mentoring service. We received a new contract for working with clients who posed additional challenges, and our Oranga Tamariki contract was increased.
In 2016 the agency was asked to set up a branch in Tauranga Moana. Currently one staff member works from the St Thomas More and St Thomas Aquinas parish offices to provide a four day a week service. This service was set up largely by seed funding provided by the Church and the two Tauranga Moana parishes. It currently is funded through grants from Philanthropic Trusts, and support from the local parishes. In 2017, the LINK volunteer mentor scheme was set up, the goal of which was to match specially chosen (and vetted) volunteers, with people who needed a little extra support. This has been a great success.