Stephanie began with the concept of Saoirse following a range of experiences that highlighted the lack of support and services available to parents and families of children in need of extra support.
The service was based on a solution-focused model which assumed that parents have the solutions and resources to best support their child. A primary aim of Saoirse was the establishment of a parent support network run by parents, for parents, to facilitate sharing of experiences and expertise through the service website.
It was envisaged that this network would include collaboration with a range of other professionals including psychologists, teachers and other therapists. Saoirse offered group and individual solution-focused programmes that supported the development of the parent network. Saoirse also engaged in consultative work with schools, Universities and other professionals.
Saoirse also piloted a telephone support service to enable parents all over Ireland to connect with each other to share experiences and expertise in groups or on a one-to-one basis. Stephanie envisaged that Saoirse Support Service would present a model of best practice for the delivery of support and services to parents and families.
Stephanie is now an educational psychologist at HSE West, and founder of Education Desty. This is an online training and software development company which provides tailored, online support and skills development courses created and facilitated by Stephanie through her work as an educational psychologist.
Stephanie’s long-term vision is to establish an educational centre of excellence where students of all abilities have the opportunity to make a positive contribution to society.
I want to see an Ireland that recognises and harnesses the experiences and expertise that parents have to offer. I believe that collaborative partnerships, where parents and professionals work together and acknowledge each others strengths and expertise, offers the best level of support for the child who may be experiencing social, emotional and educational difficulties.