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 PEIN POST       

A quarterly newsletter from the Prevention and Early Intervention Network  December  2021

PEIN appears before committee

Creative use of lotto funding to support children and families urged

Speaking to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Children, Disability, Equality and Integration on Nov 9, PEIN’s Chairperson, Francis Chance, told the committee that Ireland needs to ‘frontload and ring-fence funding to preventative services in order to achieve savings on crisis services in future years’. This could be achieved in part through strategically using National Lottery funding for 3 to 5 year initiatives, similar to how the funding is used in the UK. 

“For many children and families, anxiety, social isolation and exposure to risk increased at a time when their access to supports services was either disrupted or unavailable. For sizeable cohorts of children already facing hardships, such as those experiencing homelessness, poverty and parental substance misuse, the temporary suspension of services made them doubly vulnerable,” Mr Chance said. 

National coordinator of PEIN Maria O'Dwyer also addressed the committee, reading the opening statement, which highlighted that children should not have to wait to access services which are critical to their development.

"There is an immediate need to ensure that the HSE services that screen children’s development are immediately and fully resumed and that children born just before or during the pandemic are fully screened as soon as possible. Further delays in screening mean that children are getting too little, too late. " the committee heard. 

PEIN also told the committee about a member referral where a home visitor met with a parent and her seven month-old baby, living in a box bedroom. The space was cold and damp, devoid of books or toys, and the baby was ‘quiet and listless, in a car seat, facing a TV. Prevention and early intervention services such as developmental checks with the Public Health Nurse or access to local ‘baby and me’ groups were not available during lockdown, confining them essentially to a tiny room where mom had no support and the baby had little stimulation, PEIN told the committee.

Watch the full presentation with questions and answers here.

Christmas is here - and oh what a year A note from Chairperson Francis Chance

I am tempted to say that 2021 zoomed by, but maybe it teamed, webexed or what other platform of choice that you use.

There is no doubt that 2021 has been a challenging year for us all – and particularly for the children and families we work with. Our combined success in creatively providing a safe continuity of supports to children and families has been a proud achievement for our sector this year.

In spite of – and in some ways because of – the pandemic, it has been a significant year in the development of the Prevention and Early Intervention Network:

The year started with PEIN securing funding for our core work from Tusla. This significant development has provided the basis on which to build all our other work.  Early in the year we welcomed Maria O’Dwyer as PEIN’s National Coordinator, to be joined later in the year by Stacey O’Halloran as our National Administrator. 

PEIN has now established a short-term office in Limerick and hope to move to a long-term location – co-located with like-minded agencies – in early 2022. The PEIN Executive and a range of working groups and external representation have work hard throughout the year to respond to members’ needs and to articulate the priority for greater investment in prevention and early intervention. 

PEIN’s communication has developed with the creation of PEIN Post (this is edition 3!), opportunities to promote our work on both social and traditional media and the launch of the first in a series of PEIN podcasts - Perspectives on Prevention. Work is progressing on the development of PEIN’s forthcoming new website and membership systems to support a growing number of members.
PEIN also ran a number of events during 2021, some for members and some for a public audience. These included:

o Supporting Children and Families in the Shadow of the Pandemic (member’s think-in)

o It’s Off to Work We Go: Reacclimatising to Life Beyond the Home Office/Kitchen Table

o School’s Out…Again: Education as Cornerstone of Effective Prevention and Early Intervention

o An ADHD Workshop for Professionals Working with Children and/or their Families for PEIN members, provided by fellow members from The Changing Lives Initiative at Archways

Additionally, PEIN participated in the process to develop the National Model for Parenting Support Services, led by the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth and led and progressed the work on our Erasmus Project: - Preschool to Primary School supporting best practice in this vital transition – with our partners in the UK, Bulgaria and the European Parents Association as well as our Irish Working Group.

As you'll hear more about in this newsletter, PEIN secured the opportunity to make a 1½ hour presentation and discussion on Prevention and Early Intervention to the Oireachtas Committee on Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.

Furthermore, PEIN deepened our relationships with colleagues across the sector by welcoming the Home Visiting Alliance into PEIN as a Working Group; providing supports to the work of the Parenting Network; participating on two Tulsa Working Groups on Commissioning and on Information and Evidence and working collaboratively as members of the Children’s Rights Alliance and the Wheel.

New Year’s Revolutions?

So, what would we like to be able to report to you on this time next year:

PEIN as a strong, vibrant and growing organisation providing a range of supports to our members in response to the member’s survey and other feedback and an authoritative voice for our sector.

A successful AGM on 17th February and a balance between continuity and new blood on our Executive.

A strong and effective policy paper on the future for Prevention and Early Intervention in the post pandemic context which informs the development of an ambitious and well-resourced new National Children’s Strategy.

The launch of Ireland’s first National Model for Parenting Support Services with prevention and early intervention at its core, accompanied by a significant implementation and investment plan.

An agreed national approach to home visiting across the continuum of need.

Ireland’s strategy to implement the European Child Guarantee and to invest in the supports needed to make it a reality in the lives of children in Ireland and their families.

Enhanced supports to children and families through quality evidence-based local services which are adequately resourced and well integrated into local services provision for children and families.

Staff from Lifestart, Donegal, pictured above and below, are in the Christmas spirit as they get the Christmas decorations up, swap gifts and make special festive deliveries to the community in Inishowen. Well done to all involved. Not even COVID can stop Christmas and community spirit!
AGM NOTICE: PEIN's Annual General Meeting will take place on Feb 17, 2022. Committee membership nominations will be sought. Please put the notice in your diary!  
Have your say on Survey Monkey - and maybe win a prize!
The Prevention and Early Intervention Network harnesses the knowledge, expertise and experience of our members so your voice is central to our work. Please take 10 or so minutes to tell us what you like, what you don't and how we might do things differently. Your feedback is very much appreciated and you might even win a small prize! Click here to take part. In order to be entered in to the draw, make sure you email as the survey is anonymous.

New member profile
As PEIN continues to grow, The Post is a great way to profile new members. For this edition, we are delighted to welcome Triple P on board.

Alcohol Action Ireland hold series of events relating to problem alcohol use in home

PEIN member Alcohol Action Ireland hosted a week long series of events and activities during October to help to ‘End the Silence’ and raise awareness of the issues arising from growing up with alcohol harm in the home. We know that at least 200,000 children in Ireland are currently living with the trauma of parental problem alcohol use and a further 400,000 adults are living with its damaging legacy. Yet despite these large numbers this Adverse Childhood Experience remains a deeply hidden problem.
As well as the screening of a film about problem alcohol use in the home, and holding a public talk with a US expert on the issue of parental problem alcohol use, the week also featured a ‘Festival-style’ event on education and trauma-informed practice. The keynote speaker was the renowned Gabor Maté. View this online event, held in partnership with Maynooth University here. Find more information on the campaign and access the full suite of events here:

Fond farewells to PEI heavyweights

As this year closes, the child and family services sector waves a fond farewell to two prevention and early intervention champions and long-standing PEIN members. 
Alice Malone (above right), the Programme Implementation Co-ordinator with Genesis in Louth and Noelle Spring (above left),
Director of the Katharine Howard Foundation have both retired. Alice and Noelle, thank you both for your immense contributions. We wish you long and happy times ahead and can only imagine how happy you are to plan lovely things that don’t involve Zoom.

A note on Tusla's Commissioning Advisory Group

Tusla established a Commissioning Advisory Group (CAG) in 2016, and PEIN has been represented on this structure by Marian Quinn since its inception. CAG meetings were interrupted by Covid and the IT hacking but are now back on track and scheduled bi-monthly. They are chaired by Eifion Williams, and both the Tusla CEO and Director of Services and Integration have attended on various occasions.

The CAG members from the Community and Voluntary sector began meeting separately some time ago, in order to maximise our contribution, and agree consistent messaging. The introduction of commissioning, whilst having the potential to enhance focus, evidence and clarity of roles, brings many concerns and so we have given a lot of attention to ensuring we use our engagement with the CAG strategically.

The role of the CAG has changed over time, reflecting changes in Tusla’s commissioning approach. When the CAG was initially established, we understood that the commissioning approach would reflect that set out here

This strategy states that commissioning applies to the totality of Tusla's resources, however it has been clarified that the approach is currently only being applied to the Community and Voluntary sector and does not include internal resources or private providers. This is very disappointing.

A workplan for the CAG is being developed, the terms of reference have been reviewed and will be amended, and an evaluation of the CAG has been proposed.

The CAG spent much time in 2018/19 reviewing and revising Tusla’s service level agreement, and whilst many changes were made there are still aspects which Community and Voluntary sector members are seeking to have adjusted; in particular, the need for the SLA to reflect a partnership way of working and to be underpinned by a spirit of collaboration. This continues to be a significant agenda item at the CAG.

Finally, the Community and Voluntary sector members have on a number of occasions written to key stakeholders (politicians, Senior Department officials, and the Tusla CEO and Board Chair) regarding the need for sustainable funding which reflects total delivery costs and which allows for cost of living increases and staff increments. Responses to the most recent correspondence have been received so far from the Minister for Children, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, and the Chair of Tusla’s Board. 

PEIN will continue to keep members updated on the work of the group.

PEIN launches Direct Provision paper

‘Why Mama, are we still here, when will we go?’

Speaking at the launch of a PEIN paper on the Direct Provision system, Mehwish Saqib (pictured), spoke of the impact of this on children: ‘For 6 years my daughter continuously sees her friends getting their papers and moving out. She asks me, ‘why Mama, are we still  here? When will we go?’ There are currently over 7000 people living in 38 Direct Provision centres across Ireland. PEIN is advocating that resources and services are made available to people and families in those centres now, rather than waiting until the system ends. ‘For children in Direct Provision, that’s another 3 years in limbo. When you add that to how long they have been in there already, that’s a sizeable portion of their childhood spent in confined, communal spaces with no real sense of belonging’ Maria O'Dwyer, the national coordinator of the Prevention and Early Intervention Network said.
Read the full PEIN paper on Direct Provision here.
We want to hear from you - do you have a story to share or something you'd like to highlight with the PEIN membership? If so email and you might make the next edition!
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