Scheme of 'immense' benefit to children
on 20/09/2012 00:00:00
It is one of a range of programmes operated by the Archways organisation, funded in part by Atlantic Philanthropies.
From next week, a new pilot scheme will begin in Clondalkin, Co Dublin, that will see public health nurses provide targeted help to expectant parents. The Up To 2 programme is based on evidence that shows a child's greatest development takes place between pregnancy and the age of two.
Archways and others claim this form of early intervention, along with other programmes such as Incredible Years, will save the State money in the long term.
Donal O'Neill, an economist with NUI Maynooth, said every euro spent on delivering the programme could save the State over €4 in potential knock-on costs.
The cost of implementing Incredible Years is just 1% of the annual spend on primary school children. It has been found to bring about significant positive change in behaviour.
Funding for Incredible Years has been pledged until 2016, but John Lonergan, the former governor of Mountjoy, an Archways board member, was among those calling for it to be universally available. "It should be normalised," he said.
He also said that if children had the support of programmes such as this, "the benefits and savings in the long term would be immense".
"We need to spread the gospel that the early years, the zero to three or four years, are absolutely crucial," he said.