Engaging Early to Change Children’s Lives

Resource type: Grantee Story


Preparing For Life helps families raise happy and healthy children who are ready for school, like five year old Lucy. Photo: Audra Melton

“The neighbourhood around here, it’s very hard to raise your children in. This place is overrun with drugs and gangs,” explained a mother who had just completed the Incredible Years Basic Parent Training, a group-training programme for parents of young children with persistent emotional and behavioural difficulties. As this mother knows, it is challenging enough to raise a child with significant emotional problems, and more so if the family lives in a community with few resources and major social problems. These are exactly the families that Atlantic’s investments in prevention and early intervention have been helping in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland through an all-island strategy.

Preventing lifelong problems by intervening early with programmes based on evidence is at the heart of Atlantic’s investments. This approach should result in more young people living happier and healthier lives, staying in school longer, attending university, finding satisfying jobs and earning better incomes. Conversely, fewer young people should end up in prison or suffer from preventable mental health problems.

Intervening early, which can cost as little as €743 (£600 or $950) can save money in the long term. If the causes of disruptive behaviours are not addressed early on, they can require later interventions that could cost as much as €279,000 (£225,000 or $352,000) over a lifetime.

Archways, which promotes the Incredible Years training programme, is one of a number of organisations that Atlantic has supported. Archways works with local and national agencies to research, promote and implement evidence-based early intervention programmes. Atlantic’s grants in prevention and intervention have successfully leveraged government funding and support. For example, in the Republic of Ireland, an €18 million ($24 million) investment over five years to three organisations – Tallaght West Childhood Development Initiative, Preparing for Life and youngballymun – leveraged an equal commitment of support from government. In Northern Ireland, the Department for Social Development earmarked 25 per cent of its approximately £10 million ($15.6 million) 2012 Urban Renewal Programme budget for early intervention work.

‘The [Children & Youth] Programme… served as a catalyst for change in encouraging [the Irish] government investment in evidence-based prevention and early intervention programmes…. Moreover, [we] found little evidence that these changes would have occurred without [Atlantic’s] investment and support.’ – Mathematica Policy Research

Moreover, several of the prevention programmes that Atlantic has supported in Northern Ireland have been replicated in other countries, including England, Macedonia, Zambia, Serbia and Colombia. For example, the European Union is now funding a programme to tackle prejudice in Northern Ireland in other conflict societies. This also contributes to the sustainability of the work in Ireland.

Through its all-island approach, Atlantic has invested €66.6 million ($88.5 million) in the Republic of Ireland and £24.4 million ($42.2 million) in Northern Ireland. By supporting families at risk, evidenced-based programmes, the sharing of knowledge and building an infrastructure for future work, Atlantic’s impact will be felt for decades to come.


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CPLN Area Partnership, Preparing for Life (via Northside Partnership), Tallaght West Childhood Development Initiative, and youngballymun (via Ballymun Partnership) are also Atlantic grantees for prevention and early intervention.