Apr 13 2015 Posted: 15:50 IST

€8.3 million Atlantic Philanthropies (AP) funding grant will:

  • Help young people and families get supports early and at local level
  • Embed MEITHEAL - Tusla led national practice model
  • Promote enhanced interagency cooperation

Tusla – Child and Family Agency today (Monday 13th April 2015) announced details of a comprehensive programme of early intervention and preventative work.

The Prevention, Partnership and Family Support (PPFS) Programme will take place over three and a half years (2015 – 2018) and will embed early intervention and prevention within the Agency.   The aim of the programme is to prevent risks to children and young people arising or escalating through building sustainable intellectual capacity and manpower within Tusla and partner organisations to perform early intervention work. The work is being made possible as a result of a once-off non-discretionary grant of €8.3 million from Atlantic Philanthropies (AP) and is supported by the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, NUI Galway.

Speaking at the announcement, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr James Reilly, TD says: "This extensive programme builds on the change of emphasis in the development of child welfare and protection services over recent years. It constitutes a significant step in achieving the policy objective of moving towards a stronger focus on prevention and early intervention rather than crisis management. This was a key rationale for the Government's establishment of the Child and Family Agency at the beginning of 2014 and is clearly reflected in the statutory responsibilities it has been assigned. I commend Atlantic Philanthropies for the substantial support it is providing to the programme and thank it for the very considerable investment it has made to the cause of developing parenting and family support services in Ireland over many years. I wish Tusla well in the important and challenging work that lies ahead"

President of NUI Galway, Dr Jim Browne said at the launch: “Our University is very pleased to be centrally involved in the efforts of Tusla: Child and Family Agency to develop a robust and effective Early Intervention & Prevention Work Programme. Parenting and family support is a key element of all aspects of Tusla’s Child and Family Services Work, including social work activity, early years support, community-based youth work, foster care, residential care, special care and services to women in domestic abuse situations.Supported by a major investment from Atlantic Philanthropies’ NUI Galway will work with Tusla to support the national implementation of a new Prevention, Partnership and Family Support model through the research and evaluation expertise of our UNESCO Child and Family Research Centreand through the project management expertise of Galway University Foundation.  This is a truly transformative project which goes to the heart of developing effective supports for children and young people in Ireland. Our leading researchers, working with social and community partners will produce high-calibre research and public policy which will have positive societal impacts.”

Norah Gibbons, Chairperson, Tusla explains: “The AP grant is a once in a generation opportunity to change how we do child protection and family support. It will enable Tusla to build sustainable capacity to deliver early intervention and preventative work, which would not have been possible without the support of AP.

“Importantly, it will create space to develop and embed a new way of working without detracting resources from existing services to children and young people at risk.”

Throughout the programme of work, emphasis will be placed on the training and building of capacity within Tusla and external partners.  This will include the development of a strategic approach to commissioning children’s services from the community and voluntary sector.  The approach will ensure that resources available for children, young people and families are used in the most efficient, equitable, proportionate and sustainable way. 

The rollout of Meitheal, the national practice model for family support led by Tusla – Child and Family Agency, is a key component of the work.  The model enables children, young people and their families to get supports locally when needed through a range of statutory and non-statutory agencies, working in a cooperative and coordinated fashion with Tusla.

Commenting Fred McBride, Chief Operations Officer Tusla says “The primary aim of the programme is to stop problems getting worse or, indeed, to stop problems arising in the first place. Tusla is acutely aware of the need to provide accessible services to children, young people and their families who are not at crisis point.

“This will be achieved through the provision of parenting and family supports designed to prevent problems from arising or from escalating.   These supports will be delivered by a range of statutory and non-statutory agencies, working in a cooperative and coordinated fashion.

“It also involves the creation of 26 new posts, 24 of which Tusla has committed to maintaining after the initial three year period which will ensure the continuation of the programme in the long-term.”

International evidence shows that effective early intervention and preventative strategies are a core feature of the lifecycle approach to preventing poverty and disadvantage and Tusla remains committed to constantly improving our services to ensure the best outcomes for children, young people and families.

-Ends- 

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