Preparing for Life (PFL) is a community-led prevention and early intervention programme that is operated by the Northside Partnership (NSP) in Dublin, Ireland. PFL aims to improve levels of school readiness of young children from several designated disadvantaged areas of North Dublin, by intervening during pregnancy and working with families until the children start school (at approximately four years of age). PFL was developed over a five year period between 2003 and 2008 in response to anecdotal evidence that children from these areas were lagging behind their peers in terms of both cognitive and non-cognitive skills at school entry. The development of PFL was a bottom-up initiative involving 28 local agencies and community groups who worked collaboratively to develop a programme that was both tailored to meet the needs of the local community and was grounded in empirical evidence.

The PFL Programme is a home visiting programme whose purpose is to improve documented low levels of school readiness by assisting parents in developing skills to help prepare their children for school. As such, the PFL Programme operates under a holistic definition of school readiness composed of five dimensions including: 1) physical well-being and motor development; 2) social and emotional development; 3) approaches to learning; 4) language development and emergent literacy; and 5) cognitive development and general knowledge. PFL is a multi-dimensional programme which provides a range of supports to participating families from pregnancy until school entry. It is a manualised programme which shares some characteristics with other international early childhood programmes such as the Nurse Family Partnership programme, yet is a distinct home-grown programme. On the foot of the learning from the original programme and evaluation, a further funding cycle for the programme was granted to PFL for 2014 – 2016 under the Area Based Childhood Programme to expand the programme in the districts of Dublin 5 and 17.

The PFL programme was evaluated between 2008 and 2015 by the UCD Geary Institute at University College Dublin, Ireland to provide evidence on the effectiveness of the PFL programme to positively impact on parent and child outcomes. The Principle Investigator was Dr. Orla Doyle at the UCD School of Economics and UCD Geary Institute at University College Dublin. The programme was evaluated using a mixed methods approach, incorporating (1) an impact evaluation and (2) an implementation evaluation. The impact evaluation was used to determine whether the PFL Programme had an impact on parent and child outcomes for the duration of the intervention, and data was collected on children’s physical health and motor skills, social and emotional development, and behaviour, learning, literacy and language development, and on mother’s pregnancy behaviours, physical and psychological health, cognitive ability, personality, and parenting skills from pregnancy onwards.

Parallel to this, an extensive range of implementation data was gathered, covering multiple dimensions of the implementation process. Information related to communications between the PFL programme staff and the PFL participants was documented in a Database Management System (DBMS), which was used by PFL staff to track all interactions with participant families such as home visits, phone calls, as well as the duration of the interaction and the material covered during the contact. In addition, information on participant satisfaction was recorded during the six month assessment. The data from the DBMS is not included in the archived collection, however Client satisfaction measures from the Client Satisfaction Questionnaire (CSQ: Turner, Markie-Dadd, & Sanders, 1998) is included in the archived data files.

Finally, a process evaluation was conducted to investigate perceptions of PFL using qualitative interviews with PFL participants and PFL staff members at 6 months and at 24 months; and with fathers of and father figures to PFL children at 36 months.

Quantitative data from the RCT evalaution of Preparing for Life can be accessed via the Irish Social Science Data Archive and qualitative data from the process evaluation can be accessed via the Irish Qualitative Data Archive (see links below). Data from a related study, Children's Profile at School Entry can also be accessed via the Irish Social Science Data Archive.


Below is a list of standardised measures used by PFL: 

  • Adult Adolescent Parenting Inventory 2 (AAPI-2; Bavolek & Keene, 1999)
  • Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ; Squires et al., 1999).
  • Brief Child-Toddler Social and Emotional Assessment (BITSEA; Briggs-Gowan & Carter, 2006)
  • Early Years Battery of the British Ability Scales: Second Edition (BAS II; Elliott, Smith, & McCulloch, 1997).
  • Baumeister Brief Self- Control Measure (Tangney, Baumeister, & Boone, 2004)
  • Child Behavior Checklist for Ages 1½ -5 (CBCL; Achenbach & Rescorla, 2000)
  • MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventories: Words and Gestures (CDIWG: Fenson et al., 2000)
  • Consideration of Future Consequences Scale (CFC; Strathman et al., 1994)
  • Condon Maternal  Attachment Scale (CMAS; Condon & Corkindale, 1998)
  • Children’s Sleep Habits Questionnaire (CSHQ; Owens, Spirito, & McGuinn, 2000).
  • Client Satisfaction Questionnaire (CSQ: Turner, Markie-Dadd, & Sanders, 1998).
  • Difficult Life Circumstances scale (DLC; Johnson, Booth, & Barnard, 1989)
  • Developmental Profile 3 (DP-3; Alpern, 2007)
  • Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS; Cox, Holden, & Sagovsky, 1987)
  • EU Survey on Income and Living Conditions (EUSILC, 2008)
  • Family Environment Scale (FES; Moos & Moos, 2009)
  • Beech Center Family Quality of Life Scale  (FQOL; Hoffman et al., 2006)
  • Framingham Safety Survey (FSS; American Academy of Pediatrics, 1991)
  • Home Learning Environment Index (HLE; Melhuish, Phan, Sylva, Sammons, Siraj-Blachford, & Taggart, 2008)
  • Infant-Toddler version of the Home Observation for Measurement of the Environment (HOME; Caldwell & Bradley, 2003)
  • Infant-Toddler Social and Emotional Assessment (Briggs-Gowan & Carter, 2006)
  • Knowledge of Infant Development - Short Form (KIDI-SF; MacPhee, 1981)
  • Maternal History of Antisocial Behavior Scale (Tremblay et al., 2004)
  • Maternal Separation Anxiety Scale (MSAS: Hock, McBride & Gnezda, 1989)
  • Maternal Social Support Index (MSSI; Pascoe, Ialongo, Horn, Reinhart, & Perradatto,1988)
  • Neighborhood Criminal Events Scale (NCES; Roosa et al., 2005)
  • Neighborhood Quality Evaluation Scale (NQES; Roosa et al., 2005)
  • Parental Cognition and Conduct Toward the Infant Scale (PACOTIS; Boivin et al., 2005)
  • Parental Acceptance and Rejection Questionnaire – Short Form (PARQ; Rohner, 1991)
  • Parental Acceptance and Rejection Questionnaire – Short Form (PARQ; Rohner, 1991)
  • Parenting Daily Hassles Scale (PDH; Crnic & Greenberg, 1990)
  • Pearlin Selfefficacy Scale (Pearlin & Schooler, 1978)  
  • Parental self-efficacy from the Abecedarian study (Borkowski, et al., 2001)
  • Parental Locus of Control Leslie K. Campis , Robert D. Lyman & Steven (PLOC; Campis, Lyman, & Prentice-Dunn, 1986)
  • Parenting Styles and Dimensions Questionnaire (PSDQ; Robinson et al., 2001)
  • Parenting Stress Index (PSI; Abidin, 1995)
  • Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSE; Rosenberg, 1965)
  • Relationship Quality Index (RQI) Quality of Marriage Index (QMI; Norton, 1983)
  • Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (Goodman, 1997)
  • Social Desirability Scale-17 (SDS-17; Stöber, 2001)
  • Supplement to the HOME Scale for Children Living in Impoverished Urban Environments (SHIF; Ertem, Avni-Singer, &  Forsyth, 1996)
  • Temperament and Atypical Behaviour Scale (TABS; Neisworth, Bagnato, Salvia & Hunt, 1999)
  • Ten Item Personality Inventory (TIPI; Gosling, Rentfrow, & Swann, 2003)
  • Vulnerable Attachment Style Questionnaire (VASQ; Bifulco, Mahon, Kwon, Moran, & Jacobs, 2003).
  • Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence (WASI, Wechsler, 1999).
  • WHO-5 (World Health Organisation, 1998)
  • WHO (Five) Well-Being Index (1998 version)

Data from the above scales is available for secondary analysis via the Irish Social Science Data Archive (see below) except where scale copyright restricts the sharing of this data.