Project Updates

December 2022

Research has consistently shown that positive childhood and early adolescent development is crucial to a child’s long-term health, and that early intervention and support for families can foster the best outcomes for children.

However, many families and children are at risk from one or more domestic challenges or traumas. These experiences can include things like physical and emotional abuse, neglect, caregiver mental illness and domestic violence – all of which have a significant impact on lifelong health and opportunity.

This is where the CAWT Multiple Adverse Childhood Experiences (MACE) project is making a real difference, working across the statutory, voluntary and community sectors to identify supports needed by vulnerable families in order for them to survive and thrive.

To date 3,000 plus families/children have benefitted from the interventions available through the project with much positive feedback being communicated back.

Families have benefited from ‘Universal Interventions’ such as parenting workshops, mindfulness and school transition programmes which help them foster healthy relationships, reduce stress, develop coping strategies and build resilience.  ‘Targeted interventions’ have been designed to help families who have experienced specific trauma or adversity, including addiction support, domestic violence recovery support, and parental separation support. These interventions have enabled enhanced skills for coping, managing emotions and developing resilience.

‘Specialist Interventions’ are for those children and families whose identified adversity and trauma needs cannot be fully met through universal or targeted interventions.  These involve more intensive one-to-one support for a child/family.  Examples include therapeutic services, family support and one-to-one outreach programmes.

While the project will continue into 2023, some early testimonials underscore the value of the MACE project to families:

“I loved using the strategies during the week when I was feeling stressed. I breathed in through my nose and blew all my angry thoughts out through my mouth.” Mary, 8

“Thank you for the opportunity to have this experience – it has definitely helped me more than before. I now can take time to think more clearly through my decision making, helping me feel good about the future.”

“The help we have received has been excellent and really helped all our family on a daily basis. We will be forever grateful.”

“Relevant and practical tips and real-life scenarios helped to explain and implement effective interventions.”

Next steps

The Project has been awarded grant funding up to €5.1 million from the EU’s INTERREG VA programme. This funding will conclude in June 2023.

A formal project closure event will take place in spring 2023 and a project evaluation is being planned as the project draws to a close.  This evaluation will include a review of the intervention supplier reports available, with a view to informing post EU funding plans and how the legacy of the project will continue within the individual partner organisations.

July 2022

The MACE Project aims to transform the lives of vulnerable children and families, most at risk from a range of challenges in their lives, by identifying, intervening early and providing support within their own homes and communities.

Through the INTERREG funding, the project team together with procurement specialists from HBS Procurement and BSO Pals have developed a menu of support programmes for children and families. These support programmes – referred to as MACE Interventions – can range from parenting group workshops to ‘one: one’ therapy lasting more than 12 weeks. The range of interventions offered as part of the MACE menu includes specialist equine therapy and play therapy from providers in the WHSCT/SHSCT areas.  In the border counties of the Republic of Ireland interventions include parenting workshops, intensive 1:1 support for vulnerable families, counselling, psychotherapy and liquid therapy (the physical and therapeutic benefits of the surf and ocean) in some specific counties.

The MACE Project team is delighted with the range of interventions available to vulnerable children and their families. The success of the project is evident through the demand from practitioners for the interventions available. Unfortunately, from June 2022 the MACE project does not have any capacity to purchase additional new support interventions in the WHSCT or SHSCT areas. However, there will continue to be limited places available for some supports such as the ASD/pre-diagnostic support for families and equine therapy in some parts of the WHSCT through to March 2023. In the Republic of Ireland the MACE project will continue to purchase available interventions through to September 2022 for some counties where providers on the Framework have capacity to deliver what is needed.

Summer 2021

The Trauma Informed Practitioner Toolkit has been developed in recent months, with fifty seven practitioners participating in the pilot training in February 2021. The practitioner training is currently being rolled out across the CAWT INTERREG VA area. Demand for places on the toolkit training has outstripped supply with the first 336 places available in 2021 being booked up within a few weeks of the dates being advertised.  So far, it has been necessary to run two additional dates in June to cope with demand.

Winning providers of interventions for the Northern Ireland MACE tender were announced in early January 2021 and we are looking forward to the confirmation of the winning providers for the Republic of Ireland at the end of May.  There will be further opportunities in the coming months for additional providers to apply to deliver programmes in the coming months

The MACE Project Co-ordinators have been working in collaboration with the CAWT partner organisations and Tusla practitioners, together with the newly appointed providers to start the delivery of MACE trauma informed interventions across the five cross border areas. In the early stages, the menu of MACE interventions will be relatively limited. However, this will improve as more providers tender in 2021 and join the approved list to deliver MACE interventions.

The MACE Interventions to be delivered are categorised as follows:

Universal Interventions are information programmes for families, to help build healthy relationships, reduce stress, develop coping strategies and build resilience.  Examples include parenting workshops, mindfulness and school transition programmes.

Targeted Interventions are programmes that are designed to help families who have experienced specific trauma or adversity. They aim to enhance and promote skills for coping, managing emotions and developing resilience. Examples include addiction support, domestic violence recovery support, and parental separation support.

Specialist Interventions are for those children and families whose identified adversity and trauma needs cannot be fully met through universal or targeted interventions.  These involve more intensive one-to-one support for a child/family.  Examples include therapeutic services, family support and one-to-one outreach programmes.

For further information about CAWT’s MACE Project contact Brigid McGinty, Project Manager, email: brigid.mcginty@westerntrust.hscni.net

December 2020

Significant progress has been made with the Trauma Informed Practitioner Toolkit now under development; the pilot training of the first forty practitioners will take place in February 2021.

Two EU tenders, one for NI and one for RoI, have now been completed; winning providers will be announced late December 2020 or early 2021.  

As part of the pilot delivery phase of the project,  MACE Co-ordinators will work in collaboration with the successful partner agencies and appointed providers to start the delivery of MACE trauma informed interventions across the five cross border areas from January 2021.

The MACE Interventions to be delivered are categorised as follows:

Universal Interventions are information programmes for families, to help build healthy relationships, reduce stress, develop coping strategies and build resilience.  Examples include parenting workshops, mindfulness and school transition programmes.

Targeted Interventions are programmes that are designed to help families who have experienced specific trauma or adversity. They aim to enhance and promote skills for coping, managing emotions and developing resilience. Examples include addiction support, domestic violence recovery support, and parental separation support. 

Specialist Interventions are for those children and families whose identified adversity and trauma needs cannot be fully met through universal or targeted interventions.  These involve more intensive one-to-one support for a child/family.  Examples include therapeutic services, family support and one-to-one outreach programmes.

In the early stages, the menu of MACE interventions available may be quite limited, however it is anticipated that this will improve as more providers tender in 2021 and join the approved list to deliver MACE interventions.

For further information about CAWT’s MACE Project contact Brigid McGinty, Project Manager, email: brigid.mcginty@westerntrust.hscni.net.

Project Update – September 2020

Good progress has been made with key project outputs. Specifically, the Practitioner Toolkit and Training has been published and evaluated with a provider appointed recently. MACE Project Co-ordinators will work in collaboration with the successful provider and partner agencies in the development of the Toolkit and Training delivery to 500 professionals.

The first part of the MACE Interventions tender has also been published, with the second due for publication in coming weeks. Once completed, the MACE Project Co-ordinators in each area will manage and oversee the delivery of 3,125 interventions to children and families experiencing, or at risk of, experiencing multiple adverse childhood experiences. This will include Universal, Targeted & Specialist Interventions, which provide early intervention to families and reduce the risk of multiple adverse childhood experiences.

Before the Covid 19 outbreak, the MACE Project Co-ordinators trained in, and delivered, a range of workshops and awareness raising sessions in relation to multiple adverse childhood experiences, trauma informed practice and coercive control.  In each of the five project areas MACE Project Co-ordinators continued to facilitate Trauma Informed Cross Border Networks of Excellence and training needs analysis working groups.

However, the MACE Project experienced a number of challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic. Covid-19 restrictions significantly impacted upon the planned delivery of Trauma Informed workshops and specialised training across the five MACE areas.

In response, co-ordinators adapted a new way of remote working which has enabled them to continue to work with their local partner agencies. For example, a range of webinars, focused on awareness raising, increase professional knowledge of the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences and trauma informed practice, attachment and the importance of play, trauma and the importance of self-care.

In addition, MACE Project Co-ordinators continue to work closely with partner agencies including attending Child and Family Support Networks and Sub Groups and engaging with Family Support Hubs, CYPSC and CYPSP.

Supporting the Covid-19 community response effort MACE Project Co-ordinators provided direct support to families in their local communities delivering food parcels and providing telephone support to families. Support was provided to children and families through the completion of Intake Assessments as part of the Donegal Duty Intake Team, and, the completion of Emergency Fostering Interim Assessments for the Alternative Care Team in Sligo and Leitrim. This provided an opportunity for Project Co-ordinators to support and work collaboratively with families experiencing adversity, using a trauma informed approach, and to ensure provisions were in place when children’s needs could not be met within their family.

Project Co-ordinators facilitate Trauma Informed Cross Border Community Networks of Excellence remotely enabling professionals to share experiences, learning and resources on the impact of Covid-19 on families and how services could be adapted to support families during this time. The Cross Border Networks of Excellence have also facilitated virtual workshops with inputs from NSPCC, HSE Child Psychology Services and WHSCT Domestic Violence Specific Team.

Testimonials:

“The presentation was very well structured and easy to follow. It was great to hear and be reminded of the importance of building strong attachments to babies and young children, and how this can impact on children in later years”.

“It was great to hear about the importance of engaging in play with children, allowing for imagination to grow, language to develop, and overall, to strengthen the bond between parent/guardian and child”.

Project Updates 2017-2019

Oct 2019 Trauma Informed Cross Border Community Networks complete Scoping Reports to inform tendering specification for interventions to support families with children aged 0-3 and 11-13 years.
Oct 2019 All 5 Trauma Informed Cross Border Community Networks Established.
Sept 2019 MACE Evidence Review ‘Investigation into assessments/screening tools and practices relevant to childhood adversity’ Completed.
Mar 2019 Contract awarded to complete a review into assessments/screening tools and practices relevant to childhood adversity.
Feb 2019 Roll out of ACE awareness sessions including Resilience film and workshop commences across all project areas.
Sept 2018 CAWT MACE Project Launch takes place in Millennium Forum with over 540 people in attendance.
Sept 2018 CAWT MACE Recruitment of five project worker staff takes place.
Aug 2018 CAWT MACE Project Manager holds community Engagement meetings across the delivery site locations.
Jul 2018 CAWT MACE Project Manager commences post.