Infancy and toddlerhood are vital stages for early intervention in the lives of deprived children, MLAs were told, on 7 November 2012.
Ms Eleanor McClorey was briefing the Health Committee on the activities of Youngballymun, a project providing integrated services for children, young people and families in a deprived area on Dublin's northside.
She explained that Ballymun had a population of around 20,000 people with a "huge experience of poverty".
Ms McClorey explained that Youngballymun applied the principles of "prevention and early intervention" to problems such as non-school attendance, alcohol and drug abuse and homelessness.
This was a dramatically different approach to the traditional strategy of responding to a crisis, she said.
Ms McClorey outlined some of the aspects of the project.
These included a psychological support service for infants and toddlers, a social and development programme for primary-age children and mental health and literacy programmes.
Sue Ramsey of Sinn Fein who chairs the committee, noted that Youngballymun had secured funding for 10 years whilst many programmes in the North had only been able to find funding for a year.
The DUP's Jim Well's expressed surprise that there was a budget of £12m for an area with a population of 20,000.
He said he could not envisage a minister providing that much money for an area with a population similar to Downpatrick in County Down.
Ms McClorey said the socio-economic profile of Ballymun would not be the same as Downpatrick.
For legal reasons the committee went into closed session to discuss reports on the NI Fire and Rescue Service.
The first part of the debate can be viewed