Philanthropy fund gives €8m to national child support plan

The Child and Family Agency has announced a major programme of early intervention measures for children after it received over €8m in one-off Atlantic Philanthropies funding.

Philanthropy fund gives €8m to national child support plan

Children’s Minister James Reilly said the money would mean “a stronger focus on prevention and early intervention rather than crisis management”.

The prevention, partnership, and family support programme will begin this year and will run into 2018 — courtesy of a non-discretionary grant of €8.3m from Atlantic Philanthropies and supported by the Unesco Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway.

A central plank of the programme will be the national rollout of Meitheal — a model for family support led by Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, which allows children, young people, and their families to get supports locally when needed through a range of statutory and non-statutory agencies.

Fred McBride, chief operations officer in Tusla, said: “The primary aim of the programme is to stop problems getting worse or, indeed, to stop problems arising in the first place.”

It will involve the creation of 26 posts, 24 of which will be maintained after the three-year programme ends.

Regarding the Meitheal process, four regional implementation managers will be recruited, while Child and Family Support Networks will be set up throughout the country.

Children and parents will also become involved in the delivery of the programme, including funding for the Irish Foster Care Association to develop supports for foster carers.

A grant will be given to EPIC (Empowering Young People in Care) to create a structured process around consultation with young people, while a participation strategy and a children and young people’s version of the strategy have been drafted and will be published later this month.

There will also be a training programme on participation rolled out for all Tusla staff and next year 17 seed funds will be granted to develop participation practice in different areas.

There have long been calls for the state to provide more of a focus on early intervention measures, rather than situations involving children reaching a crisis point before action is taken.

Meanwhile, Dr Reilly also launched a national high-level policy statement on parenting and family support, following on from last year’s publication of the Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures document.

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