Anne Cassidy, Carmel Devaney, Caroline McGregor and Fergal Landy
Meitheal is a national practice model which aims to ensure that the needs and strengths of children and their families are effectively identified, understood and responded to in a timely manner. The aim of this article is to consider some of the notable learning from the historical background and context in the development of children and family services. The discussion draws together four interrelated themes: the interaction between the voluntary and statutory systems, the interface of family and child oriented services, balancing formal and informal responses to child welfare, and early intervention and prevention services. The complexity of this endeavour is emphasised through identifying the core considerations required at the levels of Bronfenbrenner’s ecological model. The article concludes with a commentary on how the future of child welfare in Ireland may be influenced through this attempt at a reorientation of children and family services towards early intervention, prevention, partnership and participation.