Irish Local Development Network

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Start Right — an early years intervention programme in Limerick City

Paul Partnership is the lead agency and host of Start Right - an early years intervention programme in Limerick City.

About the Programme

Using a multi-agency approach, Start Right works with families, service providers and local community organisations, to ensure that children on the south side of Limerick can enjoy fulfilling, healthy and happy childhoods.

The project’s model area is characterised by high levels of socio-economic disadvantage and low levels of co-ordinated service provision, which highlights the need for effective early intervention and prevention strategies.

Accordingly, Start Right has been planned with quality, meaningful collaboration and sustainability at its core, in order to achieve enhanced outcomes for children aged from birth to six.

Start Right’s work is administered through a consortium of partner agencies:

PAUL Partnership (lead agency),Limerick City Children’s Services Committee, HSE, Limerick City Council Directorate of Home & Community (formerly Limerick Regeneration Agency), Limerick City Childcare Committee, Mary Immaculate College, Limerick Social Services Council,  Limerick Education Centre

Funders:

The programme is jointly funded by the National Early Years Access Initiative (NEYAI - administered through Pobal) and Limerick City Council Directorate of Home & Community.

Additional funding through the Programme Innovation Development Fund (Atlantic Philanthropies) has facilitated an enhancement of the project.

Early Results

  • Start Right is participating in two simultaneous evaluations: (a) A national evaluation of all 11 NEYAI projects, which will measure the extent of early intervention in the context of better outcomes for children and (b) a local self-evaluation that will focus on the project’s multi-agency collaboration as a process and track the points of behavioural / attitudinal change. Interim findings from both research pieces will be available in summer 2013.
  • The recruitment of an Interim Preschool Practice Manager through Start Right to improve practice and support the up-skilling of early years staff is currently being reviewed by the Early Years Policy Unit as a model that could be rolled out nationally.
  • A successful application to the Programme Innovation Development Fund (PIDF) has enabled the lead agency to recruit a Public Health Nurse and Speech and Language Therapist to Start Right. These posts are part of a Community Wraparound Programme, designed to provide families with young children with flexible and ongoing support. This programme is a further enhancement of the community outreach component of Start Right’s work and is currently being designed and implemented as a sustainable legacy of that work.
  • There has been a 30% increase in participation in accredited early years practitioner training (minimum FETAC level 5) in the project’s model area in the last 12 months.
  • A level 6 (special purpose award) course in Inclusive Care and Education has been developed and delivered by Start Right consortium partners (Mary Immaculate College) and is the first course nationally to offer accredited training to early years practitioners on special educational needs.

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