Area Based Childhood Programme

Status: Ongoing


The Area Based Childhood (ABC) Programme is a cross-departmental initiative targeting investment in effective services to improve the outcomes for children and families living in areas of disadvantage. It is funded by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and The Atlantic Philanthropies. In line with the Government’s commitment to draw on best international practice and existing services to tackle aspects of child poverty, the ABC programme focuses on the implementation of interventions and approaches that have been found to significantly improve child outcomes in an Irish setting. The overall aim of the programme is to break “the cycle of child poverty within areas where it is most deeply entrenched and where children are most disadvantaged, through integrated and effective services and interventions” in child development, child well-being, parenting and educational disadvantage. The ABC Programme emphasises greater interagency collaboration to ensure services being delivered make the most impact, are timely and accessible, and have the potential to become sustainable and mainstreamed.

The Programme builds on the learning from the Prevention and Early Intervention Programme 2006-2013, which was co-funded by DCYA and The Atlantic Philanthropies and delivered across three areas in Dublin: Ballymun (youngballymun), Dublin Northside (Preparing for Life) and Tallaght West (Childhood Development Initiative).

The following thirteen areas are currently participating in the Area Based Childhood Programme:

  • Preparing for Life, Dublin Northside
  • Tallaght West Childhood Development Initiative (CDI)
  • Youngballymun, Ballymun
  • Blue Skies Initiative, Clondalkin
  • Dublin Docklands and East Inner City
  • The Genesis Programme, Louth 
  • Better Finglas, Finglas
  • Vision Beyond Poverty, Grangegorman
  • Young Knocknaheeny, Knocknaheeny
  • Supporting Parents and Early Childhood Services, Bray
  • ABC Start Right, Limerick City
  • Family Matters, Ballyfermot and Chapelizod
  • Midlands


Each ABC Area is delivering a range of services to improve children’s health and development, children’s learning, and parenting outcomes through collaborative working between the statutory and community and voluntary sectors. A range of structures have been put in place by the funders and the programme managers to govern and support the ABC Programme. This includes an interdepartmental project team, consisting of nominees from relevant government departments and agencies and an Expert Advisory Group, consisting of local and international experts in evaluation to oversee the evaluation of the programme. 

Our Role

CES was asked by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and The Atlantic Philanthropies to jointly manage the ABC Programme with Pobal. CES’s role focuses on supporting service design, implementation and evaluation while Pobal supports and oversees fiscal management, grant administration and governance.

The role of CES on the Area Based Childhood Programme involves the following activities:

  • Supporting the Areas to develop service delivery plans based on clear evidence
  • Supporting the Areas to learn about and develop their capacity to implement services through the delivery of workshops and on- and off-site support
  • Organising ‘Learning Community’ events, which allow the different Areas to come together, share their experiences and learn from each other
  • Managing queries and requests from the Areas and the funders, and providing regular updates to the funders on evaluation.


CES has designed an evaluation framework for the Programme, in collaboration with an Expert Advisory Group and the programme funders, and is managing its implementation. The evaluation will examine the outcomes, implementation and cost of the ABC Programme at a national level. A key objective of the evaluation of the ABC Programme is to build capacity and embed a culture of using data to inform decision-making within ABC Areas.   In 2014 CES produced a report on approaches to oral language development on behalf of the Area Based Childhood Programme.