Belfast Telegraph

More poor areas to get child cash

An additional nine areas across the country where children are living in poverty are to receive funding under a multi-million euro scheme to improve their start in life.

Youngsters with speech, language and literacy problems will be given help in the 30 million euro (£25m) early intervention programme.

And parents will be offered guidance on how to tackle emotional and behavioural problems in a bid to ensure their youngsters go to school and do well.

Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald said three pilot projects of the scheme, which have already begun, are starting to make a real and positive difference to the lives of children and their families in disadvantaged areas.

"These programmes have been shown - both at home and abroad - to succeed in substantially improving the life-long outcomes of children in less advantaged communities, and represent a sound, and very cost-effective investment in our nation's future," Ms Fitzgerald said.

"I also look forward to the lessons that will be learnt in rolling out these interventions in the context of this programme, and the impact this will have on mainstream service provision in our schools, health services and the Child and Family Agency which is being established in January."

Three initial areas were selected to take part in the Area-Based Childhood (ABC) programme, which is funded from 2013 to 2016.

These are sites in Tallaght, Ballymun, and the areas of Darndale, Moatview and Belcamp in Dublin's northside.

Ms Fitzgerald announced today that an additional nine sites were deemed eligible for the ABC programme, and that another project in the Midlands would be included with links to one of the existing pilot sites.

"The programme for government announced that 'up to 10' areas would eventually be approved for entry into such a programme," the minister said.

"In fact, it is hoped that 13 areas will now benefit in total and I believe it is a testament to our commitment as a country to our children."

The Government has made 14.85 million euro (£12.3m) in funding available to the programme, which was then matched by grant-making organisation Atlantic Philanthropies.

The programme, which is jointly managed by the Department of Children of Youth Affairs and the Office of an Tanaiste, is based on international research into interventions that support disadvantaged children.

Supports and services offered in the three pilot projects to date include parenting, early education, speech and language therapy and pro-social behaviour.

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore said he was extremely pleased with the progress to date in what he described as an important initiative.

Nine new sites selected to take part - in addition to the existing three and a further project in the Midlands - include Bray, Ballyfermot, Dublin Docklands, Finglas, Grangegorman, Knocknaheeny in Cork, Limerick, and Drogheda and Dundalk in Louth.

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