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Children's services "need more prevention and early intervention"

That is according to a number of leading children’s groups, who say that there are ‘pockets of multiple disadvantage’ in parts of Ireland.
Jul 5th 2012, 11:42 AM 1,822 6

GREATER EMPHASIS ON prevention and early intervention is needed in children’s services, leading children’s groups have said today.

They have called for greater emphasis on these in response to a public consultation on the future development of children’s policy, Improving the Lives of Children and Young People.

The three member organisations of the Prevention and Early Intervention Programme (PEIP) presented their joint submission to the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA)-led consultation today.

PEIP

The PEIP includes the Childhood Development Initiative in Tallaght West, Preparing for Life in Dublin 17 and youngballymun, three groups who implement early intervention and prevention strategies to improve outcomes for children.

Youngballymun Chief Executive Eleanor McClorey said that current children’s services “are generally driven by acute, remedial action in response to crisis when difficulties are well entrenched”.

Prevention and early intervention strategies have the capacity to challenge the present focus on costly interventions late in childhood and can promote secure attachment, age-appropriate social and emotional development, positive protective relationships, oral language and literacy skills and mental health.

She stated that this public consultation and strategic framework to be developed “is an excellent opportunity for government to take a long term cost-effective view on tackling causes rather than symptoms”.

Pockets of multiple disadvantage

Preparing for Life Programme Manager Noel Kelly said a key item in the PEIP’s submission is the importance of taking an area-based approach to addressing child poverty.

There are concentrated pockets of multiple disadvantage in a number of identifiable areas in Ireland. Populations in these areas are significantly more likely to experience poor health, learning and wellbeing outcomes than the general population.

Meanwhile, Childhood Development Initiative CEO, Marian Quinn, commented that a meaningful overhaul of how children’s services are provided “requires starting from a much stronger base of information, data and evidence”.

“We must develop services in response to identified need, allocate resources in accordance with that need and invest in approaches that have the greatest chance of being effective,” she said.

The closing date for submissions to Improving the Lives of Children and Young People is 6 July. The information received will inform children’s strategy and policy during the next five years.

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Aoife Barry

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