National Centre

From the beginning, NCI envisaged ELI acting as a Centre of Excellence from which other communities and governments, nationally and internationally, could learn how to improve the educational and life chances of children and their families across Ireland and further afield.

As ELI’s activities grew exponentially, balancing local programme delivery with national advocacy and mainstreaming activities was challenging. As part of NCI’s Strategic Plan, a National Centre was established within ELI to capture and build on its achievements to date and its strategic ambitions.

NCI’s Academic Strategy 2019-24 details NCI's strategic ambitions of being a national leader in accessibility, widening participation and educational pathways through a life cycle approach. At present, an institution-wide strategy for NCI is being developed. It will incorporate our academic strategy, our physical campus requirements, the significant digitisation of delivery over the past 18 months, our ambition around institutional positioning, and our commitment to mission, access, student support and services and community engagement.

Through ELI, NCI’s access programmes start at birth and support children to start school with the language, literacy and numeracy skills needed for success in education, career and life.

ELI’s 2020-25 Strategic Objectives are:

  • A national leader and centre of expertise in accessibility, widening participation and educational pathways with a particular focus on early childhood and family learning.   
  • National centre for developing sustainable models of Home Visiting across Ireland and innovative emerging future-orientated family home-based learning. 
  • Innovation centre for adapting and transforming our existing activities, pedagogies, and processes to remain responsive to ever-changing needs and policy contexts. 
  • Pioneering research to capture new knowledge and practices and disseminate them locally, nationally, and internationally. 
  • Develop our expertise in capacity-building for long-term sustainability planning, particularly in relation to programmes and services for children and young people in statutory, voluntary and community sectors. 

National Centre is a focal point for knowledge management, capacity-building, communication and influencing in relation to educational disadvantage, access and ELI’s growing expertise in supporting other communities to deliver high-quality Home Visiting programmes, in line with the Irish Government’s First 5 A Whole-of-Government Strategy for Babies, Young Children and their Families 2019-2028. The overall goal is to capture new knowledge and practices in these areas and disseminate them locally, nationally and internationally. It supports and learns from ELI’s work in Dublin Docklands and Inner City and uses it as an example of best practice from which other communities can learn.  

At present, National Centre supports a combination of the following activities: 

  1. Scaling up sustainable models of Home Visiting programmes across Ireland. 
  2. Research and innovation in response to quality assurance and ever-changing contexts. 
  3. Building partnerships to increase influence and impact. 
  4. Sustaining and developing the portfolio of Dublin’s Inner-City Programmes.

National Parent-Child Home Visiting and Family Engagement 

Developing and scaling up sustainable models of Home Visiting programmes across Ireland so that the 12,400 children born into poverty each year in Ireland get the support they need to thrive in education, career and life is a key priority for ELI’s National Centre. To achieve this, we have been developing a National Home Visiting Support Centre, which has the capacity to support the delivery of high quality evidence-based sustainable models of Home Visiting and innovative emerging future-orientated family home-based learning across Ireland. While a lot of progress has been made, it is a complex task in an ever-changing policy and societal context to ensure that the structures, processes and training to enable high-quality governance, accountability and implementation of home visiting programmes in different organisations across Ireland are in place and are working.

ParentChild+ National Home Visiting Training, Research and Support Centre, which supports the scaling up of ParentChild+ to other communities in a sustainable way and provides ongoing comprehensive support to ParentChild+ Managers, Coordinators and Home Visitors around the country. 

Home from Home Programme, a specially adapted home visiting programme for families living in homeless/emergency accommodation, which is ready for scaling up around the country in 2021-22 

Sláintecare Integration Fund: Prevention is Better than Cure: A Community Mothers Programme Development Project in collaboration with the HSE, Tusla, Katharine Howard Foundation and 10 Community Mothers sites across Ireland. Our goal is that every first-time parent in Ireland will be offered an updated home visiting programme. 

My Place to Play Project in collaboration with Tusla and CYPSC. It aims to enhance parent-baby interactions and children’s physical (tummy time), emotional (sense of safety, wellbeing and belonging), cognitive and language development for infants living in homeless/emergency/overcrowded accommodation.  

Rethink Ireland Innovate Fund for the ‘From Couch to Screen’ project, provides professional qualifications in Home Visiting through  

  • QQI Accredited Level 6 Microcredential in Core Pedagogy and Curriculum  
  • QQI Accredited Level 7 Microcredential in Leadership and Change Management  
  • Non-accredited programme specific training and eLearning resources  

Home Visiting Alliance, a collaboration of 5 Irish evidence-based early childhood home visiting programmes (Community Mothers, Infant Mental Health, Lifestart, ParentChild+ Preparing for Life) represents the collective national voice of early childhood home visiting.