Prevention And Early Intervention

The Prevention and Early Intervention Network (PEIN) represents organisations and individuals working in children, family and community services throughout Ireland who are committed to developing a prevention and early intervention-led approach to service planning and delivery. PEIN focuses on the most effective ways of building a protective layer of support to stop difficulties from arising in the first place and providing support at the earliest possible stage when they do occur.

Ireland has been at the forefront of supporting Prevention and Early Intervention (PEI) initiatives through partnership approaches between The Atlantic Philanthropies, NGOs, state agencies and Government since 2004. We are leaders in the design, implementation and evaluation of evidence based and evidence informed PEI services. PEIN harnesses this energy and expertise from its members to provide a collaborative PEI-focused environment and a cohesive voice for the sector.

  • Prevention – Providing a protective layer of support to stop difficulties arising in the first place or from getting worse

  • Early Intervention – Providing support(s) at the earliest possible stage when difficulties do occur

Our Network

Since its establishment in 2010, the Prevention and Early Intervention Network (PEIN) has been channelling the commitment, expertise and experience of our many members, and the various perspectives that they bring. PEIN provides members with opportunities to learn, share, challenge and collaborate in a supportive environment. Together we promote effective approaches and provide a cohesive voice in the child and family sector.

The case for prioritising prevention and early intervention at both government policy and practice level has become increasingly important. In the period since our establishment, Ireland has been through a recession and a global pandemic. The ongoing fallout from both continues, in parallel with national crises in housing and health provision. The heaviest burden is carried by vulnerable children and families. PEIN works to highlight the weight, impact and solutions to this burden.

Our Vision

That every child, young person, family and community in Ireland is supported to be all that they can be, through the provision of timely, appropriate and integrated information, advice and services that are planned and delivered prioritising prevention and early intervention.

Our Mission

  • To share, develop and disseminate learning in PEI practices and approaches;

  • To support the work of members / member organisations;

  • To influence policy and practice, nationally, internationally as well as locally.

Meet our Executive Committee

Katherine Harford
Katherine HarfordPEIN Chairperson

Katherine Harford is Executive Director of Let’s Grow Together!! Infant & Childhood Partnerships CLG. -Incorporating the Young Knocknaheeny Areas Based Childhood Programme, Let’s Grow Together is an organisation registered as a charity to provide proven and innovative area-based early  childhood prevention, promotion and early intervention approaches in Cork. The focus of the organisation is early relationships and quality environments and is guided by an Infant Mental Health framework to support early childhood development, quality of life, and also seeks to contribute to lasting community change. From 2011 Katherine led a multisectoral process in the planning, development and resourcing of this work and also leads a wonderful expert team in the delivery of services.  Previously she was Manager of Northside Community Health Initiative (Cork) Ltd, with responsibility for the overall strategic development of the organisation and realising the potential of a number of innovative programmes, addressing health inequalities experienced by local people across the life cycle. In the past she worked for homeless services in the U.K. and in development work in Dublin and Cork.  She is a proud founding member and former Chairperson of Cork Healthy Cities, and participates in a number of local, city and national networking and policy forums on issues of social inclusion, equality, health, and development and has presented and published widely on these themes.   Katherine has been a committed leader in the community and voluntary sector for over 15 years, building on existing strengths and facilitating partnerships and processes for community, organisational, policy and systems change. Katherine holds a BA in History, Politics & Social Studies (UL); an MA in Community Development (NUIG); A postgraduate Diploma in Management (IMI/UCC).

Francis Chance
Francis ChanceConsultant in Children and Family Services

Francis has over 40 years’ experience of working with children and families in Ireland in both the statutory and voluntary sectors. Currently Francis is working as a Consultant in Children and Family Services, having worked with the Katharine Howard Foundation as Programme Manager for the Nurture Programme: Infant Health and Wellbeing over the last five years. The Nurture Programme sought to strengthen the HSE’s universal supports to parents in pregnancy and early childhood. Previously Francis worked with Barnardos and with the Eastern Health Board / Northern Area Health Board. Francis is a Professional Social Worker, qualifying from the University of Liverpool.

Contact details:
[email protected]
086 6068753

Lána Cummins
Lána CumminsNational Asst. Director, Early Learning Initiative

Lána is the Assistant Director of the Early Learning Initiative National Centre at the National College of Ireland. Working to bring home visiting and family engagement programmes to parents and children living in disadvantaged communities across Ireland, Lána is passionate about breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty through prevention and early intervention.

Hugh Doogan
Hugh DooganCEO, Archways

Hugh has over 25 years’ experience working on projects supporting children, young people, families and communities. He was instrumental in setting up The Genesis Programme, part of the national Area Based Childhood (ABC) Programme, in Co Louth. He took up the role of CEO with Archways in May 2021.Archways is a national organisation working in collaboration with local and national agencies. Archways research, develop, and promote evidence-based and evidence-informed programmes for children, young people, as well as their parents and the professionals that support them.

Jennifer Hough
Jennifer HoughPolicy Research Officer, Alcohol Action Ireland

Jennifer has 15 years of experience in the areas of research and communications. An advocate for social justice, currently she is the Policy Research Officer for Alcohol Action Ireland & Mental Health Ireland. She is passionate about the concept of trauma-informed systems and services, and prevention and early intervention activities.

Jennifer has first class Master’s degrees in journalism from the National University of Ireland, Galway and in Child and Family Law from University College Cork.

Caitríona Nic Mhuiris
Caitríona Nic MhuirisFounder, Kinship Care Ireland

Caitríona Nic Mhuiris is the founder of Kinship Care Ireland at Treoir. As a proud Kinship carer and mum to 6 incredible young people she is a passionate about prevention and early intervention. She has worked in family support, community development and community relations in Derry and Galway. As a community development project coordinator in Galway, she was involved in developing a community creche, community gardens, men’s shed, and women’s groups.  In response to the needs of her own children she also established a parent and toddler group, and scout troop. Prior to her sister’s death in 2012 she worked as family support worker with ARD Family Resource Centre in Galway city. A little-known fact is that in a former life, Caitríona studied biochemistry and biotechnology and worked in breast cancer research in Switzerland.

Niall Sexton
Niall SextonProgramme Manager, Preparing for Life

Niall Sexton joined Preparing for Life as Programme Manager in 2018. PFL is an evidence based, manualised Early Intervention Programme providing home visiting and other supports to families in a highly disadvantaged community in North Dublin. Niall has a background in community development and non-profit management in the United States and Ireland. He has previously managed homeless and addiction services in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania before returning to Ireland to work in developing local responses to disadvantage and social exclusion in Dublin. Niall is a qualified Social Worker with an MSW in Social Work and Community Organising from the University of Pittsburgh.

Mary Walker Callaghan
Mary Walker CallaghanRegional Manager, Lifestart Services CLG

Mary has worked with Lifestart since March 1999 and is currently the Regional Manager of Lifestart Services CLG in Donegal. Mary is a graduate of Dublin Institute of Technology and holds a MA in child, Family and Community, she also holds an Honors BA in Community Development from Letterkenny Institute of Technology and has an Honors BA in Community Development and a Diploma from the University of Ulster in Management in the Community and Voluntary Sector. Mary is a highly regarded practitioner in the realm of parenting and family support in Donegal and sits on a number of high-level committees both locally, regionally, and nationally.

Mary’s previous work experience includes outdoor education as a qualified mountaineering and canoeing instructor, working with young offenders and managing a home for young adults with intellectual and physical disabilities. She is an advocate of supporting parents as the primary nurturers of their children and is particularly passionate about breaking the cycle of disadvantage through timely, evidence-based supports and services delivered in communities and in the home.

Fergal Landy
Fergal LandyCEO, Family Resource Centre National Forum

Fergal has worked with children, young people, families, and communities for over 20 years. He started this work as a social worker in the Dublin North-East Inner City and later with the Crisis Intervention Service. This was a Dublin city centre-based service intended to support and protect children and young people from the wider Dublin Region who needed to leave their family home in crisis situations, by providing temporary accommodation and support until a more appropriate response could be provided at local level. Many of these children and young people came from families and communities who experienced significant social and economic disadvantage and some of them came to the attention of An Garda Siochana on a regular basis.  As well as the challenges they faced, these young people, their parents, and their communities had many strengths. Some of these children and young people were often accommodated in inappropriate locations in Dublin City centre, away from their communities of origin and for much longer durations than originally intended, this was to the detriment of their well-being. Fergal then worked as a social worker in Galway with children and families where the children were referred to State services as being at risk of abuse and/or neglect and with children who for a variety of reasons could no longer live with their birth parents. As well as the challenges they faced ,these young people, their parents, and their communities also had many strengths. After several years of valuable experience working in these well-intended but reactionary services, Fergal began to realise the inherent limitations of late interventions that do not seek to address the underlying issues of poverty and inequality faced by the families offered these types of late interventions. Fergal then decided to undertake an LLM in International Human Rights Law and to move into different roles related to community development; research in relation family support policy development and service design; and implementation support for a nationwide whole system approach to prevention, partnership, and family support. Fergal is currently CEO of the Family Resource Centre National Forum which is a nationwide network of 121 FRCs who adopt a human rights-based approach to community development and family support across the life-course.

Dr. Tracey A Monson
Dr. Tracey A MonsonCEO, Daughters of Charity Child & Family Service

Tracey has a wide and varied academic, practice and leadership background in the area working in early intervention, prevention and protection with children, young people and families at risk.

She is a trained psychoanalytic psychotherapist by profession, with further academic qualifications in Social Justice, Strategic Leadership and Management and a Professional Doctorate in Childhood Studies. She is currently undertaking an Executive MBA in DCU Business School.

Tracey has worked at a national and cross border level with statutory and governmental bodies to advance the agenda for children’s issues and has held various senior management positions within child and family services within the community and voluntary sector in the ISPCC. She is currently the Chief Executive Officer of the Daughters of Charity Child and Family Services, a service that provides child protection and welfare assessment, early childhood education and care, therapeutic support and domestic abuse services across 17 sites in Dublin and surrounding areas. She has lectured on the Early Childhood Education degree programmes in Dundalk Institute of Technology and has published in academic journals, Childcare in Practice and the British Journal of Social Work.

She has been a member of the Editorial Board of international journal Child Care in Practice and of the Journal of Child and Adolescent Trauma a member of the Tusla national advisory commissioning group and the Tusla National Research Advisory Committee.

She is worked in the community and voluntary sector for all of her career and is passionate about the work of this sector and its role as an integral part of the fabric of Irish society.

Meet our Team

Maria O’Dwyer
Maria O’DwyerNational Coordinator
Maria has been involved with PEIN, as both a member and an international conference representative, since 2011. She took up the position of National Coordinator in February 2021. A former Area Based Childhood (ABC) Project Manager with Start Right Limerick and lecturer in the Sociology of Early Childhood, Maria has extensive research and teaching experience in both early childhood and prevention and early intervention. Following a PhD (2006) in Peace and Development Studies, childhood poverty and marginalisation have been the prevalent themes of both her work and research interests.
Stacey O’Halloran
Stacey O’HalloranNational Administrator

Stacey is the National Administrator of PEIN. She holds a degree in Business Computing and has a lot of professional experience in administration and finance. Having worked previously with ABC Start Right Limerick, Stacey is very familiar with Prevention and Early Intervention.

Being a proud member of a Regeneration community, Stacey is passionate about working in the community and voluntary sector. With previous experience working in the public sector, C&V is exactly where she wants to be!

Stacey has a particular interest in graphics and social media and has become quite the go-to for PEIN members who want to create eye-catching visuals.

Nessan O'Neill
Nessan O'NeillNational Administrator - Communications

Nessan joined PEIN in 2023 as a Digital Media and Event Coordinator before taking up the role of Communications Administrator. Prior to this, Nessan was part of the team responsible for delivering the Learning Limerick Festival where he undertook several communication-based roles.

Bringing a wealth of experience from across many different fields to the role, Nessan is a firm believer in social justice, equality and peace for all and hopes someday to see a world where everyone is afforded the opportunity to access a level playing field and to be all they can be.

Nessan holds a BA in Liberal Arts with a focus on Media and Communications Studies and English Language and Literature from Mary Immaculate College, Limerick.

Some Key Advocacy Wins

  • Establishment of the PEI Unit in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform

  • Inclusion of prevention in the founding legislation of Tusla, the Child and Family Agency

  • Inclusion of PEI in the National Policy Framework for Children and Young People, Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures.

What Research Tells Us

The efficacy of prevention and early intervention initiatives in improving outcomes for children has been and continues to be rigorously evaluated. There is substantial international evidence that investment in PEI supports in early childhood pays substantial returns over the lifetime of the child.

There is no better way of investing in Ireland’s future than by ensuring that our youngest citizens are enabled to achieve their full potential. By providing children and their families with the necessary supports at the earliest possible opportunity in their lives, we increase their opportunities for better outcomes. Children should not be required to wait or to miss out.

Some Key Messages

We know that Prevention and Early Intervention:

  • Can have life-long positive effects on outcomes for children and young people, including the achievement of developmental milestones; educational attainment; better mental health and reduced contact with the juvenile justice system.

  • Reduces a child’s need to avail of a wide range of state services at later stages in their lives and increases their quality of life. It therefore enables them to enjoy what every child should have – happy, healthy and safe childhoods.

  • Is essential to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty and disadvantage.

  • Requires a whole-of-government approach.

  • Saves the Exchequer in the long-term by reducing the need for more costly crisis-oriented services.

in short…

‘An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure’ is more than an old adage. It’s a formula for creating a society where children and their families can thrive.

Get in touch with PEIN


Come say hello

Connect with PEIN

  • PEIN Office,
    The Southill Hub,
    Donough O’Malley Park,
    Limerick V94 X431

National Coordinator: Maria O’Dwyer

National Administrator: Stacey O’Halloran

National Communications Administrator: Nessan O’Neill