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Policy category

Helping Vulnerable Children

Recommendation Pillars

Enhance family support and the quality of alternative care settings

Countries that have implemented practice


Age Groups

Middle Childhood (age 6 to 12)

Target Groups

Low-income Families, Children, Parents

Years in Operation

2008  - still operating

Practice Overview

Mate-Tricks was an afterschool programme aimed at children between the ages of nine and ten years. The manualised curriculum offered a bespoke programme which was designed by combining elements of the Strengthening Families and Coping Powers Programmes. Mate-Tricks was delivered through three distinct components with sessions taking place for the children, parents and the family as a unit. It included a wide range of themes that had the intention of supporting the children's developing social skills. The parent sessions aimed to support parenting skills and enhance the parent child relationship.

Programme details

The intended outcomes of the programme included:

  • enhancing the children's pro-social behaviour
  • reduction in ant-social behaviour
  • developing children's confidence and self-esteem
  • improving children's problem solving skills
  • improving child-peer interactions
  • developing reasoning and empathy skills
  • improving parenting skills
  • improving parent/child interactions Instinct is not enough


CDI is currently part of the Government's Area Based Childhood (ABC) Programme which supports prevention and early intervention work at 13 sites across Ireland. CDI has secured funding of €4m to deliver a range of programmes in Tallaght West until 2016.

CDI began its work in late 2003 in order to develop a strategy to improve the health, safety and learning of the children of Tallaght West and to increase their sense of belonging to their community. From 2007 to 2013 CDI was one of three co-funded Prevention and Early Intervention Programme (PEIP) sites in Dublin. CDI is a member of the Prevention and Early Intervention Network (PEIN).

Target group details

Children targeted were between 9 and 10 years of age.

Scale of Implementation

270 children participated Mate-Tricks over a three year period. All groups were located in Tallaght West, Dublin.

Evaluation Details

Mate-Tricks was evaluated using a randomised control trial (RCT) which measured the effects of the programme on child outcomes and a process evaluation that examined it's implementation. The programme was evaluated by an independent team form the Centre for Effective Education in Queen's University, Belfast. The team used a three year rolling cohort design.

The research team found that of 21 outcomes investigated through the RCT, 19 showed no impact. There were, two statistically significant effects and three which approached significance The two statistically significant effects were based on child self-report and showed an increase in anti-social behaviour and an increase in authoritarian parenting. The three effects approach significance showed an increase in liberal parenting, an increase in conflict tactics and an improvement in the relationship with mothers, as reported by the children. The process evaluation views and observations of Mate-Tricks were generally very positive.

As a result of the research findings, Mate-Tricks was discontinued and a large scale consultation process was used to inform the stakeholders of the findings and allow them they opportunity to ask questions of both CDI and the Research Team.

Issue to consider

It is vital to evaluate all programmes offered to children and families in disadvantaged communities to ensure that the intended outcomes are being achieved. Running programmes that are liked by the stakeholders does not mean that they are effective in what they have set out to achieve. Decommissioning services is a delicate process that involves many layers to ensure all stakeholders are informed. Programmes that haven't be proven to be effective should be discontinued.

Cost information

The cost of programme delivery for one year was €1,029 per child. Each group had up to 15 children.

Contact Information


Anne-Marie Reid


Quality Specialist


Childhood Development Inititaive


St Marks Youth and Family Centre, Coosktown Lane, Fettercairn, Tallaght, Dublin 24, Ireland


00 353 1 4940030


AttachmentPlease find herepdf