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Young Knocknaheeny Area Based Childcare (ABC) Programme national conference was officially opened by Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Cork East Fine Gael TD, David Stanton this morning.  The conference, which took place in Cork City Hall, focussed on connecting vision, policy and practice to strengthen and support children, families and neighbourhoods through early intervention and prevention.

“I believe that early intervention and prevention strategies are key to tackling disadvantage and child poverty and I am pleased to open today’s conference on this theme.  The Programme for Government contains a number of commitments to support early intervention and prevention initiatives across a number of Government Departments, including my Department of Justice & Equality.

“A large part of early intervention funding, however, comes from the Department of Children and Youth Affairs who fund, with Atlantic Philanthropies, the Area Based Childcare Programmes across the country, of which Young Knocknaheeny ABC forms part.  A total of €29.7 million is available for the ABC programme from 2013-2017 and this funding is used to reduce child poverty and improve outcomes for children and families living in poverty.

“Child poverty is a vital issue for our society not just because of the negative short term effects it has on children but also for the long term consequences it can have on educational achievement, physical and mental health and well-being and economic status.  One of my Department’s core objectives is to achieve an equal and inclusive society and I am delighted that in my role as Minister of State for Equality I am overseeing the development of an Integration Strategy which is at an advanced stage and will focus on equal participation in society for all.

“Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures: The National Policy Framework for Children and Young People 2014-2020 is also a key part of Government policy for improving the Lives of Young People through the implementation of a range of policies and services.  The Youth Justice Action Plan 2014-2018, in which I am also involved as Minister of State at the Department of Justice, forms a part of this programme and has a strong emphasis on early intervention in preventing youth crime.

“It is essential that Government continues to concentrate on tackling inequality and social disadvantage in Irish Society.   All strategies to combat poverty must be adequately resourced and be delivered through a range of early intervention policy initiatives and universal and targeted services which support children and enhance their rights”, concluded Minister Stanton.