Storytime Foundation lockdown care packs evaluations

The Storytime lockdown care packs project is an interagency collaboration between Ara Poutama Aotearoa | The Department of Corrections and Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga | The Ministry of Education to support the wellbeing of children and whānau during the 2020 and 2021 Covid-19 lockdowns.


The Storytime Foundation prepared and delivered individually-tailored care packs containing books and other resources to children and whānau who either had a parent in the care or management of Corrections or following a family harm incident. The care packs were designed to cater for the age, stage, and culture of the children and also included a message that ‘Reading to your children can reduce their stress and yours…Research also shows that the more often children are read to, the more likely they are to do better at school. And the best part – it’s not just good for you and your family, it’s fun.’

Ara Poutama Aotearoa coordinated multi-agency partnership work to enable the projects. Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga funded the projects, with Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust and the Cognition Education Trust also providing additional funding for the 2021 initiative.

Storytime Foundation lockdown care packs project

The Storytime lockdown care pack projects were delivered by the Storytime Foundation in Te Tai Tokerau and Manukau during Covid-19 lockdown levels two to four in 2020, and in Northland, South Auckland, Waitematā, Auckland Metro and Rotorua during Covid-19 lockdown levels three and four in 2021.

Whānau interviewed for the evaluations reported facing increased stress, including material hardship and loss of emotional supports during the Covid-19 lockdowns. The care packs supported children and whānau to reduce lockdown stress and have fun together.

Children described the packs as ‘awesome’, ‘tu meke’ (too much) and ‘fun’. They enjoyed playing games with their family and being read to.

Most whānau said they loved the packs, and they were well used.

‘The children enjoyed it. The scrap books are filled up, used chalk on the pavement outside and reading books, snakes and ladders with the counters. Used every bit of it.’

‘I liked that it is culturally appropriate. My grandchild is Tongan and Māori.’  

‘I think it was about reading to your kids, being a good thing to do. It was good because we spent time together not just watching TV.’

Many of the probation officers believed the care packs made a difference to their relationships with whānau.

‘For some they saw us in a different light and saw Probation as a support system who cares not only about the person in our system but their kids too.’

‘It let them know someone cared about their tamariki, a small gesture went a long way.’

Read the Storytime Foundation lockdown care packs project evaluations:

The 2020 and 2021 evaluations explain the underpinning evidence and the strategies used under the Covid-19 lockdown care pack projects and provide a window into the perspectives of whānau, children, probation officers and police. The 2020 evaluation by Point & Associates (Aotearoa) also informed the approach to the 2021 project.