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Peer Review in Ireland: Prevention and early intervention services to address children at risk of poverty

09/03/2016
Description: Baby washes up on the street under the drain © Khamidulin Sergey / Shutterstock.com

Ireland is in the process of developing a more coordinated and integrated approach to children’s services, aimed at tackling the complex problems of disadvantaged families in a more joined-up and holistic way. This Peer Review looked at Irish good practice and harnessed learning from other EU Member States.

Country: Ireland

Date: 18-19 February 2016

Peer countries: Belgium - Bulgaria - Cyprus - Czech Republic - Estonia - Germany - Greece - Lithuania - Netherlands

Stakeholders: Save the children, SOS Children’s Villages International

The following key learning points emerged from this Peer Review:

  • The pre-birth and 0-3 years are vital to a child’s future development. Prevention and early intervention are a real long-term investment.
  • Political will is important to ensure adequate resources and a long term approach. This needs to be built and constantly reinforced.
  • A broad holistic policy mix is essential, as well as support for parental employment and adequate child and family benefits.
  • Develop a system-wide approach that is multi-dimensional, strategic and integrated.
  • Combine universal and targeted services as this will increase public support and help to improve the quality of services.
  • Focus on local level and coordination is important.
  • Reach out to children and families most at risk.
  • To ensure quality, invest in building capacity across agencies, including training and mentoring for professionals.
  • Data and evaluation is important for evidence-based policy, as is involving stakeholders.
  • Foster the participation of children, parents and communities, for better service delivery.
  • Put children’s rights at the heart of policy and programme development.
  • Working with families is vital but not a substitute for children’s rights and services. 
  • The EU level can provide valuable support through, for example, benchmarking, monitoring and recommendations to Member States.
  • It is necessary to strengthen the status of social policies vis-à-vis economic governance.

Peer Review manager

Renate Haupfleisch (ÖSB Consulting GmbH)