The Nurture Programme - Infant Health and Wellbeing

Status: Ongoing


Nurture is a programme of work to improve health and wellbeing outcomes for infants and their families. One of the most significant findings from international and national evidence on investment in prevention and early intervention is that the first two years are the most critical in a child’s development. The Nurture Programme will aim for better outcomes for infants, but also aims to support the strategic reform of universal health and wellbeing services for infants and their families. 

This programme began in mid-2014, when plans for a new initiative to support systems change in infant health and wellbeing services by building the capacity of providers began to take shape. CES assisted the Katharine Howard Foundation and the HSE to develop a logic model for the programme and a grant proposal to support the work was successful at the end of 2014. The programme is being delivered by the HSE, and the Programme Grant is managed by the Katharine Howard Foundation. CES will support the HSE to deliver the programme by providing technical assistance and support to implement the programme. 

The four components of the programme involve public information and education, human capital development, development and implementation of tools and resources and the development and implementation of an integrated service delivery framework. The work strands based on these components are:

  • System Development
  • Ready for Baby
  • Ready for Toddler
  • Ready for the Work.


A total of €12.1 million is being invested in Nurture over a period of three and a half years, from 2015 to 2017. €10 million is invested by The Atlantic Philanthropies, with the balance supported by the Katharine Howard Foundation and the Community Foundation of Ireland.  

Our Role

Activities which CES will undertake include supporting implementation of the programme, supporting the Programme Managers (in the HSE and the Katherine Howard Foundation) and the Steering Group, and organising implementation workshops and learning events. CES has established a dedicated implementation team to lead and support the four areas of work outlined.

The first phase of the work involved scoping of current services, structures, training, policy, and evidence of what works. In 2015, CES conducted an extensive consultation process with organisations and individuals involved in delivering services for infants across the HSE, parents and other statutory and voluntary groups. The scoping report is being used to inform the development of a detailed implementation plan and to identify what will be delivered during the programme.