Community Mothers Programme
The Community Mothers Programme was originally developed within the Public Health Nursing Service in the then Eastern Heath Board in the early 1980s. It was adapted from a programme developed in Bristol, UK and offered a volunteer led home visiting service to families with young children, particularly in communities of disadvantage. The Programme focused on maternal health and wellbeing and infant health and development. The Community Mothers Programme was one of the first Irish family support programmes to undergo a Randomised Control Trial.
Initially the Programme was rolled out across the Eastern Heath Board area (Dublin, Wicklow and Kildare) with 11 service sites developed by the 1990s. In the following years the Programme was adopted in a number of community sites around the country. Currently there are Community Mothers (or equivalent) Programmes in operation in:
Dublin Docklands, Kerry, Laois / Offaly, Longford / Westmeath, Limerick, Meath (Trim), North Tipperary, South Tipperary, Roscommon (Boyle and Ballaghadereen)
National Review of the Community Mothers Programme April 2019
In 2019, a National Review of the Community Mothers Programme was published. This Review was commissioned by the Katharine Howard Foundation and the Community Foundation for Ireland arising from their concerns about the future of the Programme. The Review was conducted in partnership with Tusla and the Health Service Executive as the principal funders of the Programme sites. The National Review Report was launched in April 2019 by Bernie McNally, Assistant Secretary in the Department of Children and Youth Affairs at a very successful event.
The Report makes a series of recommendations about the strategic development of the Community Mothers Programme, aligned with current service priorities and fully integrated into the continuum of local service delivery. During 2019 the Katharine Howard Foundation and the Community Foundation for Ireland completed their work on the National Review of the Community Mothers Programme, in partnership with Tusla and the Health Service Executive.
Community Mother Programme Development Project 2020-2021
In 2019 funding was obtained from the Sláintecare Integration Fund and from a private donor secured by the Early Learning Initiative at the National College of Ireland to carry out a Development Project seeking to implement the recommendations of the National Review. Once more, this Project is being carried out in partnership with Tusla and the Health Service Executive.
Susan Brocklesby, the independent consultant who conducted the National Review, has been commissioned to manage the Development Project which commenced it work in early 2020. In spite of the Covid-19 pandemic, it has been possible for Susan to undertake an intensive schedule of work with the project sites and with a wide range of stakeholders, supported by the Project Oversight Group. In February 2021, the Development Project made a short video of its work, as part of a presentation to the Sláintecare Integration Fund Network. The
Development Project is scheduled to complete its work at the end of 2021.
Key Strategic Linkages
A key aspect of the Development Project has been the development of a revised and updated model of delivery for the Programme, closely integrated into national policy priorities and service delivery systems including:
- Better Outcomes Brighter Futures
- First 5: The Whole-of-Government Strategy for Babies, Young Children and Their Families
- HSE: National Healthy Childhood Programme, Women and Infants Health Programme, Community Health Networks, Public Health Nursing Service and Breastfeeding Action Plan
- Tusla: Prevention Partnership and Family Support Programme, Child and Family Support Networks, Meitheal Process, Family Resource Centres and Children and Young People’s Services Committees and Area Based Childhood Programme