A revamp of child benefit where money is targeted towards children's education and health is being considered by the Government, writes Anita Guidera.
Social Protection Minister Joan Burton said that in Brazil and Mexico, Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) incentivised school attendance, child immunisation and school books.
The CCT system makes social welfare payments conditional on the actions of the receiver.
Criteria in different countries include making sure children are enrolled in schools and receiving vaccinations.
Ms Burton told the MacGill Summer School that around 600,000 families receive child benefit for 1.2 million children.
"If some of that money was directed, for instance, to building up a really good quality pre-school system and better quality healthcare, you would end up with a much better education system and also, you would give people coming from less well-off families a really good headstart," she said.
She was outlining details of measures to combat social welfare fraud, and reform the system of supports.
She also said she would be targeting Bord Gais, the ESB, Eircom and RTE among others, in a bid to seek a discount in large bills being paid to these bodies by the State on behalf of welfare recipients.