Napier Family Centre says there has been a record increase in the number of new families seeking budget advice.
The centre provides a range of support services for more than 2000 per year.
It says that among its clients there are more than 1000 children living with families in financial distress.
The centre says more than 700 new clients signed up for budget advice in the past year - double the number in 2008.
It says their average debt was more than $33,000.