NUI Galway Publish Findings on Tusla’s Early Intervention Meitheal Programme

Pictured at the launch of the ‘Interim Report on the Meitheal Process and Outcomes Study’ are l-r: Dr John Canavan, Dr Leonor Rodriguez, Dr Carmel Devaney and Dr Anne Cassidy, UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, NUI Galway. Photo: NUI Galway
Nov 13 2017 Posted: 14:52 GMT

Researchers from the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway have published their latest research findings based on the experiences of children, young people and their families involved in Meitheal*, the Tusla-led early intervention national practice model. The research is part of a comprehensive programme of early intervention and preventative work undertaken by Tusla as part of the Prevention, Partnership and Family Support (PPFS) Programme.

This research provides an overview of the interim findings of the report entitled, ‘Meitheal Process and Outcomes Study’, for which data collection is ongoing. This is a longitudinal study with three waves of data collection that focuses on gathering data at a pre, post and follow-up stage. This report focuses specifically on data gathered on the implementation and impact of Meitheal.

The NUI Galway study shows that families benefit most when there is a trusting relationship with the practitioners supporting them, when they are asked their views about what is causing the difficulties and what would help resolve these when agencies work together. It is important to understand the strengths and needs of the wider family and not to concentrate solely on the child or young person in question experiencing difficulties. The research also shows that the mothers’ well-being has a big impact on the well-being of children and young people. 

This research was carried out by Dr Carmel Devaney, lecturer and principal investigator on a number of research and evaluation projects under the Prevention, Partnership and Family Support Programme, and postdoctoral researchers Dr Leonor Rodriguez and Dr Anne Cassidy at NUI Galway.

Speaking about the study, Dr Carmel Devaney said: “The findings highlight the importance of the supportive empathetic relationship between practitioners and families. Family members also reported their appreciation of being included in the process of identifying their needs and deciding on a helpful response to these. Children and young people highlighted that they felt listened to, with some noting definite improvements in their lives as a result of taking part in Meitheal.

“While it is too early to determine the impact of Meitheal on the system of help provision in the Irish context, its introduction has heightened the visibility of the work that Tusla carries out with families who do not meet the threshold for an intervention by Child Protection and Welfare services.”

This report is part of the wider programme of research and evaluation that the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway are involved with, in relation to Tusla’s Programme of Prevention, Partnership and Family Support. Further research on the impact of Meitheal and its outcomes will be published in mid-2018.

To read the report in full, visit:


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