Report says early intervention makes economic and moral sense

July 6, 2014: Greater use of approaches which prevent or tackle social problems early will save money and result in better outcomes for more young people and families, a network of 24 organisations has stated.

Launching a report by Independent Social Researcher Brian Harvey, the Prevention and Early Intervention Network (PEIN) said that both Irish and international evidence shows that prevention makes both economic and moral sense.

The PEIN said it was not calling for additional funding, but for existing services to be re-aligned from remediation to prevention – and the report sets out specific recommendations on how this change can be structured and delivered.

PEIN Chairperson Marian Quinn said the report was timely as the Minister for children Frances Fitzgerald is due to launch the National Children and Young People’s Policy Framework tomorrow.

“This report shows very clearly that targeting supports at vulnerable children and families before problems occur is both more cost effective and delivers better outcomes than providing remedial services after problems have occured.

“We are calling for all child and family services to be re-aligned from remediation to prevention.

“The report recommends that this process be driven by a cross departmental combination of the Departments of Public Expenditure and Reform, Children and Youth Affairs and the Child and Family Agency who should engage all relevant government departments in prevention and early intervention strategies and in the manner in which resources are allocated.

“It recommends that local planning for prevention and early intervention programmes lie with the Child and Family Agency, working in partnership with Children’s Services Committees and other statutory, voluntary and community-based organisations.

“It recommends that the Department of Public Reform plays a guiding role; incentivising government departments and national and local agencies to innovate and take risks by re-allocating funding from a remedial to a preventative approach.”

Minister Frances Fitzgerald welcomed the report and said the Government’s new National Policy Framework for Children and Young People’s which she will launch tomorrow would strongly recognise the role of prevention and early intervention.

“We are increasingly seeing, from both Irish and international research, that early intervention can offer significant benefits in terms of delivering best outcomes for children, disrupting the emergence of poor outcomes and generating longer-term returns to the state and society. I welcome the findings and recommendations of this report on how we integrate and mainstream prevention and early intervention practice into child and family services.”

Early intervention makes economic and moral sense

The report Making the Economic and Moral Care for Prevention and Early Intervention also affirms a large body of international evidence that preventative programmes save money in the longer term, as the youngballymun programme in North Dublin has estimated a 4:1 return on investment for its work in recent years. This is consistent with an earlier estimation from the National Economic and Social Forum which suggested a return of €4-7 for every euro invested.

The report is accompanied by five short films from prevention and early intervention champions including the Director of the Irish Prison Service, Michael Donnellan who said: “We need to reengineer our system to front load resources into early years and if we do this we have the opportunity for better outcomes. Early intervention is key. In the longer term we will have less victims, less prisons and a safer Ireland.”

Founder of the Peter McVerry Trust, Fr. Peter McVerry said: “Young people at risk are easily identifiable. We now have excellent programmes around the country which are proven and tested, but these are only available to a minority of young people. Delivering these more widely is a matter of justice and equality.”

The full report and the five ‘champion’ films can be viewed at:

The champion films include:
• Mr Michael Donnellan – Director of the Irish Prison Service
• Fr Peter McVerry – founder of the Peter McVerry Homelessness Trust
• Ms Joanne Kelly – parent and participant in PEI parenting course
• Mr Marke Gray – speaking about his experiences of the Irish care system
• Professor Noirín Hayes – Early Years specialist
The Prevention and Early Intervention Network (PEIN) brings together 24 evidence-based practice, advocacy and research organisations seeking to improve outcomes for children and young people and to promote quality, evidence-based, informed practice in prevention and early intervention.

Further Information
Ronan Cavanagh, Cavanagh Communications: (086) 317 9731.