The Government is to establish a long-term study of children growing up in Ireland in an effort to gain a greater understanding of children’s development.
The study will monitor 10,000 children from birth and 8,000 nine-year-olds through to adulthood.
Dermot Ahern, the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs, said the results of the scheme will help identify why some children thrive, while others fall behind.
Junior Minister Mary Hanafin described the move as pioneering and said it will help the Government to provide better services for children.
Paul Gilligan, of the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, said: "It’s good to see a vision around developing and understanding that will help us in the future. These sort of structures need to be put in place now so that, in five and 10 years time, we have a basis of information on which we can draw."