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Programme Seeks to Aid Disadvantaged Children in Republic of Ireland

Resource type: Speech

John R. Healy |

A project to help disadvantaged children in three communities in Ireland will gather evidence about what works and what does not and apply that knowledge to future programmes, said John R. Healy, former Chief Executive, The Atlantic Philanthropies, in this speech in Dublin announcing the Prevention and Early Intervention Programme.

It’s not often that the head of a foundation shares a platform with a Government minister. But for The Atlantic Philanthropies the idea of collaboration with the Government is not a novel one. We collaborated closely with the Government in the Programme for Research in Third level Institutions. We co-fund a number of initiatives in the Ageing field. And now we are coming together on something of the highest importance – the future of our children.

Making lasting improvements in the lives of disadvantaged and vulnerable people is at the heart of the mission of The Atlantic Philanthropies. We were drawn to the area of children and youth because of our belief that much still needs to be done in Ireland to lift many children and families out of disadvantage. Too many children have seriously diminished life chances because of the extra challenges they face.

There is a growing international body of evidence that earlier intervention with disadvantaged children can prevent problems such as school dropout and low achievement. We also know much more now about what works for these children in terms of effective programmes. Through the support we have been able to offer to three communities working with children, they are able to get access to the information and expertise needed to plan and implement services which, we believe, will lead to improved outcomes for their kids.

That’s why we are in full agreement with the government that diligently gathering evidence about what works and what does not work in these three communities, and applying this knowledge to the design of future programmes, will help improve the lives of thousands of children in Ireland for years to come. The three communities that will benefit from today’s announcement are finalising their plans at present. We in Atlantic are looking forward to their submissions and to working with them in the years ahead to bring their plans to full fruition.

We welcome this important opportunity to collaborate with the government. We see our role as complementing government by offering insight and access to expertise from the children’s field internationally. The Minister referred to the establishment of the Forum at the Office of the Minister for Children. We warmly welcome this. The establishment of the Office is a milestone in policy development. And the Forum provides further opportunity for other programmes currently being planned to become part of an open learning exchange. I would like to pay warm tribute to the Director General and her staff in the Office with whom we at Atlantic have worked on this initiative.

A final word of thanks and acknowledgement to the community groups themselves. More than anything else, it is their commitment to thoughtful planning and to their communities that has brought us to today.

Thank you.