Ag Eisteacht hosted an event to raise awareness for the Hands Up For Children campaign, which seeks to influence political decision makers to increase Prevention and Early Intervention services in the new programme for government.
Our CEO, Maeve Hurley opened up the morning, by highlighting our commitment in the Irish constitution that we “shall cherish all children equally.” She noted that the stark reality of this vision is that 12% of Irish children live in poverty.
Maeve also spoke about the importance of working with families to anticipate the times in their lives that they will struggle. Providing them with support at these times and building their capacity to provide a nurturing and supportive environment for their children is paramount. Maeve went on to introduce the speakers, people she considers to be change champions: Fergus Finlay (CEO, Barnardos), Marian Quinn (Chair, Prevention and Early Intervention Network), Katherine Harford (Manager, Young Knocknaheeny Area Based Childhood Programme) and Catherine Maguire (Infant Mental Health Specialist, HSE). Each of these speakers made very informed and compelling presentations which stressed the importance of Prevention and Early Intervention for children, families and communities.
In his keynote address, Fergus Finlay, presented primary level education as one way in which the government could make a commitment to prevention and early intervention. He explained how it is entirely achievable for the government to commit to universal primary education. This would mean that all children would be provided with the necessary school books, as well as transport to be able to fully participate in their education. It is anticipated this would €103 million, out of an overall €8 billion education budget.
Marian Quinn spoke about the importance of everybody working together to move away from the crisis driven intervention model which is currently used – and instead move towards implementing Prevention and Early Intervention supports on an incremental basis. She asked attendees to get involved and support the campaign, particularly by asking election candidates about their policies on prevention and early intervention.
Infant Mental Health Specialist, Catherine Maguire spoke about the impact early childhood experiences have on a person’s brain development. She used an informative video to explain how our early experiences in life can shape our social, emotional and psychological development. The video ‘How Brains are Built’ can be seen here. This reinforced the fact that Prevention and Early Intervention are key when achieving the best outcomes for children.
Katherine Harford spoke about the incredible work they are doing in the Young Knocknaheeny Area Based Childhood programme, which takes a community based approach to Prevention and Early Intervention. This programme works with children, families and communities to provide services such as speech and language therapy, parent support and programmes which encourage pro-social behaviour. Hearing about this programme was insightful into how early intervention programmes work in practice and have achievable and measurable outcomes.
The Lord Mayor Chris O’Leary and Local Councillors Tony Fitzgerald, Deirdre Forde, Kieran McCarthy, Stephen Cunningham and Donnchadh Ó’Laoghaire attended the event to listen and learn about the Hands up for Children campaign. The Lord Mayor and local councillors pledged their support to the campaign whilst at the event.
Remember to ask election candidates about their position on Prevention and Early Intervention. You can also show your support for the campaign here.