Preparing for Life (PFL) is a preventative programme which aims to improve the life outcomes of children and families living in North Dublin, Ireland, by intervening during pregnancy and working with families until the children start school. The PFL Programme is being evaluated using a mixed methods approach, incorporating a longitudinal randomised control trial design and an implementation analysis. The experimental component involves the random allocation of participants from the PFL communities to either a high support treatment group or a low support treatment group. Both groups receive developmental toys, facilitated access to preschool, public health workshops, and have access to a support worker. Participants in the high treatment group also receive weekly home visits from a trained mentor and group parent training using the
Triple P Positive Parenting Programme. The PFL treatment groups are also being compared to a ‘services as usual’ comparison group (LFP), who do not receive the PFL Programme.
In total, 233 pregnant women were recruited into the PFL Programme between January 2008 and August 2010. Randomisation resulted in 115 participants assigned to the high treatment group and 118 participants assigned to the low treatment group. In addition, 99 pregnant women were recruited into the comparison group. The population based recruitment rate was 52%. Baseline data, collected before the programme began, was available for 104 and 101 high and low PFL treatment group participants respectively, and 99 comparison group participants. Tests of baseline differences between the high and low PFL treatment groups found that the two groups did not statistically differ on 97% of the measures analysed, indicating that the randomization process was successful. The aggregate PFL group and the LFP comparison group did not statistically differ on 75% of the measures; however, the comparison group was of a relatively higher socioeconomic status.
Evaluation of this programme is being conducted by a team led by Prof. James J. Heckman at University of Chicago, Dr. Orla Doyle at University College Dublin, and Seong Hyeok Moon at University of Chicago.