The PFL Preparing for Life longitudinal study releases exciting positive results at UCD conference.
We attended the PFL Conference at UCD’s Sutherland School of Law where the significant results of the ten year Preparing for Life Study were presented. The study designed, implemented and evaluated an early intervention programme, to combat the problem that more than half of children in the disadvantaged area featured in the study were ill-prepared, across a number of defined parameters, to begin school. We weren’t surprised to hear that an essential part of the success of the programme was the relationship between the mentors delivering the interventions to the participating families and the subsequent change in the way that parents related to their children as a result of the intervention programme.
The evaluation showed that the targeted intervention programme designed and implemented had a significant positive impact on children’s readiness to start school. Such were the results that the evaluated intervention programme is now been rolled out to a new co-hort of families. The intervention programme is delivered in partnership with families meeting specific criteria, and its spans from the time mothers are pregnant until the time the participating children are due to begin school.
The PFL programme is a collaboration between Northside Partnership and UCD Geary Institute and was funded primarily by The Atlantic Philathropy fund and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. It originated in a community led project called Northside Partnership where Mr. Noel Kelly (now Tusla) and his then team secured funding from The Atlantic Philathropy fund. The collaboration between Northside Partnership and Dr. Orla Doyle and her team at UCD Geary Institute ensure that the programme was place on a scientifically sound footing and that the programme design, roll-out and evaluation can withstand the scrutiny of the international research community. The longitudinal, scientifically robust study is in fact one of the most extensive of its type conducted in Europe.
In summary the study revealed that there are five core identifiable and quantifiable capacities which children in disadvantaged areas often develop at a slower pace, resulting in a diminished level of readiness to start national school at the appropriate age.
The identified capacities can be conveniently defined under the acronym CLASP:
Approaches to Learning
Social and Emotional Development
Physical Wellbeing and Motor Development
The PFL programme developed meaningful and measurable interventions which would specifically develop these capacities and improve childrens’ level of preparedness, particularly in disadvantaged areas, to start to school, leading on, it is expected, to a wide range of additional benefits.