Talking about City Connects, in Ireland

Now that City Connects is running in 10 schools in the North East Inner City (NEIC), district in Dublin, Ireland, we’re proud to see our evidence-based model of integrated student support being adapted to the local culture and shared with the public.

One example is a new video designed to help parents learn about City Connects and how it supports students, which is posted above. The video features Program Manager Gerard Cullen and some of Dublin’s Coordinators, and it provides a front seat view of our work in Dublin.

As Cullen explains in the video, “One of our key beliefs is that every child has strengths, and our job is to find out what that strength is, build on it, while also addressing any needs the child might have, so they can succeed in school. And City Connects is not just for the child with trauma or not just for the child experiencing difficulties, either at school or at home. City Connects is for every child attending one of our partner schools.”

“So that’s what we do, we create an individual plan for each and every child every year. Sometimes it can be quite simple or a little bit more detailed, but every plan is unique and tailored to that child’s own individual strengths and needs. In essence, City Connects creates the right plan for the right child at the right time.”

City Connects’ story is also told in Ireland’s Education Yearbook, which is distributed nationwide each year. The Yearbook records “the story of Irish education” and bridges “the gap between practitioners, managers, researchers and policy-makers.”

The Yearbook’s 2021 edition tells the story of how Ireland’s schools have persevered through pandemic-related school closings and re-openings. It also tells the story of City Connects, explaining that Dublin’s City Connects schools “range in size from 60 to 405 pupils, and all include students from a local Irish background and students from a migrant background. Principals in the NEIC have consistently raised the need for wraparound services for children in the NEIC and using the school setting as the focus for supporting a child’s strengths and needs while accessing external services.

“It is the first time that City Connects is being piloted outside the US.”

While City Connects schools in the United States rely on local, state, federal, and philanthropic funding, Dublin’s City Connects’ schools are funded by the Irish Government and also rely on the resources of national agencies such as the National Educational Psychological Service, which assigns consulting psychologists to schools, and the Health Service Executive, which provides all of Ireland’s public health services.

The Yearbook also praises City Connects for “building on existing supports and increasing their effectiveness.”

Mary Walsh, City Connects’ Executive Director, adds, “City Connects is working in Dublin because we’ve collaborated with our colleagues in Ireland to adapt the practice to the local cultural context. We’ve learned that it’s important to keep City Connects inside schools, but we also have had solid success in aligning existing community resources in Dublin so that children can get what they need and want in more efficient ways.”

To learn more about our work in Ireland, please check out the Yearbook and the video.

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