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Area Based Childhood (ABC) Programme 2013-2017

The ABC Programme is an innovative prevention and early intervention initiative consisting of committed funding for an area-based approach to helping to improve outcomes for children by reducing child poverty.

The ABC Programme builds on previous work in the area of prevention and early intervention and runs from 2013-2017.

1.    How is the ABC Programme funded and managed?

The ABC Programme is co-funded by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and The Atlantic Philanthropies on a matched basis with €29.7m being provided over the life-cycle of the programme.

The Centre for Effective Services and Pobal are the Programme Managers for the ABC Programme and are involved in the implementation, support, governance and evaluation of the Programme.  

2.    What is the focus of the work in the ABC areas?

The focus of the work under the ABC Programme covers in the main:

Areas are implementing a range of programmes and services in a variety of settings including schools, early years settings, and in the home. Emphasis is being placed on enhancing interagency collaboration to ensure services being delivered are timely, accessible, and have the potential to become mainstreamed.  The National Logic Model below attempts to capture key activities, outputs and project outcomes drawn from the work of all 13 sites.   

3.    Where are the ABC Programme Areas?  

The table below lists the relevant area-based consortia and lead organisation providing or to provide services on ABC and their location. All of the organisations are now under contract and operational.

Lead Agency

Geographic Area Covered



Preparing for Life (PFL)

 Dublin Northside

Tallaght West Childhood Development Initiative Ltd

 Tallaght West

Clondalkin Behavioural Initiative Ltd. t/a Archways


Louth Leader Partnership


Northside Community Health Initiative (Cork) Ltd - NICHE


Early Learning Initiative, National College of Ireland

 Dublin Docklands and East Inner City

Barnardos Republic of Ireland Ltd


Bray Area Partnership (BAP)


Dublin Institute of Technology DIT


HSE Midlands Area


People Action Against Unemployment Ltd. (PAUL Partnership)

 Limerick City

Ballyfermot/Chapelizod Partnership


4.    How is the ABC Programme governed?



5.    How will the ABC Programme be evaluated?

The Centre for Effective Services (CES) in cooperation with the Expert Advisory Group is developing an evaluation programme for the ABC Programme.  The evaluation will be focusing on the outcomes achieved by the ABC programmes for children and families directly involved in the ABC Programme.   

In the shorter term, CES will also work with the ABC sites to develop their ability to collect and use data to inform and improve their service delivery at operational, management and strategic levels.  In supporting this, each ABC site will be provided with regular reports that summarises evaluation data for their individual Area.

In the longer term, it will also evaluate whether service provision (including inter-agency work) for children and families has improved.  The purpose of the evaluation is not to demonstrate the effectiveness of individual programmes in each ABC area but rather to answer the following three key questions:

1.    How did the outcomes for children and families in ABC Areas change?
2.    To what extent did the ABC Programme make progress in implementing evidence-informed programmes and approaches in the ABC Areas?
3.    What were the costs of services provided under the ABC Programme?

The evaluation will examine outcomes, implementation and cost using a range of quantitative and qualitative methods including pre- and post- outcomes assessments, online surveys, focus groups and interviews.

6.    When will reports on the ABC programme become available?

National interim reports will be provided from mid-2016.  The final national evaluation reports will be produced in 2018.

7.    What is the legacy of the investment in the ABC Programme after 2017?

The learning from the ABC Programme will be captured and consideration given to mainstreaming this learning in respective policy domains. Mainstreaming involves discerning the key factors and features of effective responses delivered through the ABC sites and transferring learning from examination of those factors features into more established domains of policy and provision to improve outcomes for children and young people.  The Department is currently engaged with a variety of stakeholders to establish how this can be achieved.


8.    How does the ABC Programme link with Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures?

Prevention and Early Intervention is a key Transformational Goal in Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures.  A commitment (G13) in Better Outcomes, Brighters Futures is to “implement the Area-Based Childhood (ABC) Programme to address the impact of child poverty and improve child outcomes in 10 or more areas of disadvantage and mainstream the learning from the programme to services throughout the country”.  Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures also has a number of goals and commitments which are cognate with the aims and the objectives of the ABC Programme, primarily:
•    Transformation Goal G5: Work towards a rebalancing of resources to place a greater emphasis on prevention and earlier intervention
•    Commitment 4.1: Adopt a multidimensional approach to tackling child poverty, building on the lifecycle approach in the National Action Plan for Social Inclusion, 2007-2016 and informed by the European Commission’s Recommendation on ‘Investing in children: Breaking the cycle of disadvantage’, as part of the Social Investment Package.
•    Commitment 4.2: Set a national child-specific social target to lift over 70,000 children out of consistent poverty by 2020, a reduction of at least two-thirds on the 2011 level. This target will include reducing the higher consistent poverty rate for households with children as compared to non-child households (8.8% compared with 4.2%) and for children as compared to adults (9.3% compared with 6%).

9.    Does the work of the ABC programme interact with the overall commitment to reduce consistent poverty?

As provided for in the Framework, the Department of Social Protection is the lead department on child poverty and has lead responsibility for the commitment to lift over 70,000 children out of consistent poverty by 2020, a reduction of at least two-thirds on the 2011 level. The Department of Social Protection has identified this commitment as a cross-sectoral priority and are working with all stakeholders, including the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, through the Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures implementation structures and the ABC inter-departmental steering group to develop a coordinated cross-departmental response of which the ABC Programme is a critical element.

10.    Related developments

Under Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures, the DCYA has identified the theme of Prevention and Early Intervention as a key cross-sectoral priority which will be advanced in the initial phase of implementation of Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures. 

The DCYA are also at the early stages of developing a Quality and Capacity Building Programme which will be informed by emerging findings from the ABC Programme and related initiatives.

Transformational Goals and National Outcomes

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