Preparing for Life 2023 Review

Preparing for Life 2023 Review

  • Apr, 2024
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PFL Home Visiting is a comprehensive, evidence based, early intervention and school readiness programme for families in Darndale, Kilmore, Priorswood and is now also available in Belmayne and Clongriffin.  Beginning in pregnancy, and continuing until the child enters school at age 5, the programme provides high quality information for parents on all aspects of child development and parenting.  The programmes is tailored to each family with the Home Visitor responding to the particular needs and experiences of families through a strengths based, coaching approach. The team works collaboratively with Tusla, HSE, early years providers and schools to ensure an integrated service for families.  Over 120 families participated in PFL Home Visiting in 2023.

2023 was a significant year for PFL Home Visiting as the programme has been added to the United States Department of Human Services list of approved Home Visiting programmes and is now eligible for federal and state funding in the US.  PFL is currently working with the University of Chicago and Casa Central, a large community based non-profit service provider to deliver PFL in the Southside of Chicago.  PFL was also added to the Early Intervention Guidebook list of approved early intervention programmes in the UK and Ireland.  This led to significant media coverage of PFL including interviews with Prof. Orla Doyle on Drivetime and Sue Cullen, Implementation Manager, on RTE’s 9:00am show:

Prof. Orla Doyle: Orla Doyle RTE Drivetime

Sue Cullen: Sue Cullen RTE

In Ireland, PFL Home Visiting is now being delivered in 8 sites in addition to Darndale.  In 2023 PFL partnered with Tusla and local family resource centres in Balbriggan, Bagnelstown, Ballinasloe and Castlebar to support the scaling of PFL to families across the country.  We were delighted to have Mrs. Sabina Higgins launch the PFL programme in Ballinasloe earlier this year.

During 2023, PFL and the University College Dublin also initiated the next stage of research on the ongoing evaluation of PFL.  The research is looking at the original participants in the programme.  Formal assessment of the children at age 5 and age 9 demonstrated significant effects in the areas of cognitive development and socio-emotional development.  This next stage will now look at this children at age 14 to assess if these effects are maintained as the child ages.  A formal launch and recruitment event took place in the Bell Building in November with entertainment, talks and some singing from the wonderful Sharyn Ward, a PFL beneficiary.


PFL now provides a range of group based parenting programmes.  These are delivered in the Bell Building, community centres and schools.  We also deliver a limited number of programmes online to facilitate parents with childcare needs.  Over 200 parents participated in parenting programmes in 2023 and 92% said they would recommend the programme to others.

Triple P is delivered in partnership with the HSE Slaintecare Healthy Communities programme and ranges from short one-off sessions to 8 week group programmes.

Circle of Security is an 8 week programme that supports parents to build strong, nurturing attachments with their children.

PEEPS is an evidence based parent and child activity programme that supports language and communication skills and cognitive and emotional development through fun, interactive activities that can be continued in the home.

A formal evaluation of the parenting programmes in 2023 has shown statistically significant effects with parents reporting reduced hyperactivity and improved conduct in their children as well as increased parental empathy and reduced parental conflict. Some comments from participants included:

“I would recommend it to all parents”

“It was an enjoyable programme with lots of useful tools, tips and strategies!”

“I just want to add how this course has really made me look at things and understand my son more. Thank you!”


PFL has provided play therapy for children affected by substance abuse and addiction in the Darndale area as part of the HSE / Local Drug Task Force.  In 2023, PFL was successful in a joint application with the HSE for funding under the Hidden Harm initiative.  This allowed for a significant expansion of Play Therapy services through the placement of a Play Therapist in Our Lady Immaculate School.  Additional funding from Dublin City Council enabled PFL to extend this to St. Francis Junior School in Priorswood.  The location of the Play Therapist in the school allows for an integrated, collaborative intervention with the therapist, parents, Home School Liaisons and teachers working together to ensure a seamless service for children affected by trauma, bereavement and mental health issues due to substance abuse in the home.

Building Baby from Head to Toe is a new programme designed by PFL and delivered for the first time in 2023. This two hour workshop provides an introduction on the importance of early brain development and the critical importance of positive interactions during the first years of a child’s life for long term outcomes.  This programme has been very well received by parents and PFL has now developed a training programme for facilitators to deliver this programme in their own organisations.

Perinatal Supports

Providing appropriate supports for parents during pregnancy and the perinatal period is critically important in promoting positive birth outcomes, improved breastfeeding rates and reducing post natal depression.  During 2023, PFL provided a number of vital perinatal supports in Darndale.  These included antenatal and birth preparation classes as well as breastfeeding support groups and one-to-one lactation consultation sessions.  These were provided by a registered midwife and qualified lactation consultant Niamh Lohan.  Feedback from these sessions was very positive and we saw a significant improvement in breastfeeding rates in 2023.  Unfortunately, Niamh moved on from PFL and we have been unable to replace her as the funding allocation to PFL has not seen an increase in over six years.

During 2023, we also provided baby massage classes in the area with 116 parents participating.  Baby massage is an important opportunity for parents to build strong attachment and positive physical interactions.


Building Big Futures is the new coaching and professional development programme for local early years educators and managers.  The PFL Early Years team has developed this programme in line with the Northside Partnership Advantage Thinking approach and the PFL Practice Principles.  This programme provides clear guidance and information on best practice in early years education, while recognising and valuing the experience, expertise and insight of Early Years educators themselves.  The programme is trauma aware and is designed to support educators to establish high quality, language rich environments for children and support their own professional development.  In June the first cohort of participants were presented with their certificates.  Feedback from the site manager commented:

“The benefits were really evident across the centre.  The staff are all very experienced educators and knew the content being covered, but it gave the opportunity for revisiting, refocusing and reflecting on current practices. It also gave the centre the opportunity to rejuvenate the rooms with a new perspective based on the needs of the children in the room. It was a really positive experience to witness the discussions between the teams and across the rooms.”

During 2023, we expanded our Speech and Language supports through new workshops for parents with tips for encouraging strong language and communication skills.  Senior Speech & Language Therapist, Katie Cluskey also delivered workshops for An Garda Síochána and Le Cheile Mentors on the challenges caused by Developmental Language Disorder which affects many young people in the criminal justice system.

Working in partnership with Marino Institute of Education, Dublin City Libraries and local early years settings and schools, the PFL Early Years Team also provided the StoryTime project to over parents and children.  This provides books along with tips and ideas for promoting reading and literacy at home.

For more information please contact:

Niall Sexton, Programme Manager

Preparing for Life / Northside Partnership

Bell Building, Link Road, Darndale, Dublin 17

Phone: (087) 700-3492 / Email: