Evaluation of the Preparing for Life Programme

The 2008-2016 evaluation of PFL included the following components:

Between 2008 and 2016, the PFL programme was evaluated using both experimental and quasi-experimental designs. The experimental component involved participants from the PFL communities being randomly allocated to either a high (green) or low (blue) dosage treatment group for five years. The quasi-experimental component used hierarchical cluster analysis to identify a comparison community, who rank closely to the PFL communities in terms of standard socioeconomic demographics, but did not receive any treatment.  All three groups were followed throughout the life of the programme and systematically compared at pre-intervention (baseline), 6, 12, 18, and 24 months, and 3, and 4 years post-birth.

The PFL programme was evaluated using an RCT design, however unlike classical RCTs, the evaluation was a dosage experiment. There has been no study to date analysing the impact of these varying levels of supports. The UCD Geary Institute research team utilized quantitative and qualitative techniques to assess the overall effectiveness of the PFL programme in improving levels of school readiness.

The impact evaluation examined whether the programme works, while the process evaluation explored the mechanisms which led to this outcome. The service integration evaluation measured the success of the integration of services within the PFL communities as well as the successful integration of the PFL service components throughout the programme. Finally, the Annual Children’s Profile at School Entry Survey focused on the children’s levels of school readiness in the year they started school in the PFL communities.


Summary of Results from the 2008-2016 Evaluation

Overall, PFL achieved its aim of improving children’s school readiness. The programme had a positive and significant impact on each of the five domains as summarised below. More information on the results of the 2008-2016 evaluation is available here.