Barnardos has called for the new Programme for Government to reflect the Government's responsibility and duty to the children of Ireland, with emphasis on prevention and early intervention.
Welcoming both Fine Gael’s support of the UK First Steps model and the Labour Party’s proposals to roll out community based programmes modelled on the Youngballymun project, Barnardos emphasises that "both of these models of service provision understand the crucial importance of intervening early in children’s lives to prevent the difficulties that living in disadvantage can cause."
A national Programme of Prevention and Early Intervention must be developed to underpin the roll out of service provision models that aim to intervene early on in children’s lives. This Programme must deliver a strategy for the development of services based on:
- Integrated service delivery across all health, education and welfare services affecting children and families from birth;
- Community service models where service delivery is planned and targeted at local needsto achieve positive outcomes for children and families;
- Rigorous, independent evaluation that identifies how models are working, where the gapsare and what needs to be done to improve services over the lifetime of the Programme.
The overall aim of such a Programme must be to overhaul Ireland’s approach to services for children living in disadvantage. If we are to break inter-generational cycles of poverty and disadvantage we must develop a cohesive strategy for prevention models that work.