More home visits for parents on the way
CHILDREN'S Minister Frances Fitzgerald has pledged to roll out more home visits to help parents of children in disadvantaged areas.
Her move comes after a new report hailed the success of a scheme that saw home visitors give tips to struggling parents in the Dublin Docklands area.
Ms Fitzgerald said that €2.5m was available to roll out similar schemes in other parts of the country.
She added: "If we invest at an early stage, we're saving the country hugely, economically. We need to ensure there are home visitors around the country."
The Early Learning Initiative trained local women in Dublin Docklands to act as home visitors to teach struggling parents how to get their young children ready for school.
There have been 10,000 home visits since the scheme was set up five years ago in response to findings that by the age of three children in disadvantaged areas were already worse than those in more affluent areas at English and maths.
Parents in the Docklands were given books, jigsaws and children's toys as part of the home visits. One resident said it was "stuff that maybe I wouldn't have known to buy".
The report found that residents in the Docklands said there was still a lot of "criminality" in the area. But they said it was "good to take the kids off the street".
The Early Learning Initiative was set up by the National College of Ireland.
NCI president Phillip Matthews said it was paid for with state grants and donations from private firms.
The report into the initiative's effectiveness was carried out by Trinity College's Children's Research Centre.