The Area Based Childhood (ABC) Programme is a prevention and early intervention initiative targeting investment in effective services to improve the outcomes for children and families living in a number of specific areas of disadvantage.
Established in 2013 in line with the commitment in the Programme for Government to adopt an area-based approach to tackling child poverty, the ABC Programme was designed as a time-bound, co-funding agreement led by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) in conjunction with The Atlantic Philanthropies, originally in the amount of €29.7m for the period 2013-2017. As of 31 December 2018, the total funding provided to the ABC Programme was €38.7m. Of this, €23.85m was provided by DCYA and €14.85m by The Atlantic Philanthropies. With the closure of The Atlantic Philanthropies operations in Ireland, DCYA is now the sole funder of the ABC Programme.
In November 2017, my Department initiated a process, in consultation with key ABC Programme stakeholders, to consider options for sustaining the work of the ABC Programme within a new vision for a community based prevention and early intervention programme from 2019 and beyond. Following these consultations, the decision was taken to transfer the current ABC Programme to Tusla from September 2019 as part of the national Prevention, Partnership and Family Support Programme (PPFS). For 2019, a budget of €9.5m has been allocated to the ABC and PPFS Programmes. €8.2m has been ring-fenced for the ABC Programme in 2019. A further €1.3m has been allocated for the PPFS Programme which will include two new national roles to support the ABC Programme.
The Development and Mainstreaming Programme for Prevention, Partnership and Family Support (PPFS) is a programme of action being undertaken by Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, as part of its National Service Delivery Framework. The programme seeks to strengthen and develop Tusla’s prevention, early intervention and family support services.
PPFS was subject to an evaluation study by the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway, published in September 2018. The evaluation found that Tusla is developing a greater focus on prevention and that the agency’s organisational culture is increasingly inclusive of families, in line with the vision for PPFS. PPFS is currently undertaking a review process to ensure it delivers the best possible prevention and early intervention programme for children, young people and their families in the future, and to enhance the connectivity and alignment with the ABC programme as it completes its transition into Tusla.
In addition, a working group was established in May 2018 to support the transition into this new national structure that can build on the achievements to date in both the ABC and PPFS Programmes, and strengthen Tusla’s prevention and early intervention operations. This working group held its eighth meeting on 25 June 2019.
As part of this national structure, the ABC Programme will take a renewed focus on addressing child poverty and inform the delivery of prevention and early intervention initiatives, improving the lives of children and families throughout Ireland. In recognition of the need to further develop this mandate, research is being led locally and nationally by the Child and Family Research Centre to explore the potential of the ABC programme operation into the future in the context of the new organisational structure and the expectation that the programme will renew its emphasis on tackling child poverty. The outputs from this will include a document to inform the longer-term development of the ABC programme and a set of local area reports to guide future operation of the ABCs locally within their new organisational context.