Mate-Tricks is an after-school programme designed to promote pro-social behaviour in Tallaght West (Dublin). Tallaght West has been designated as an area of particular social and economic disadvantage with high levels of unemployment. Mate-Tricks is a bespoke intervention that combines elements of two pro-social behaviour programmes: the Strengthening Families Program (SFP) and Coping Power Program (CPP). The programme is a one-year multi-session after-school programme comprising 59 children-only sessions, 6 parent-only sessions and 3 family sessions, with each session lasting 1½ hours.
The intended outcomes of this programme are stated as follows in the Mate-Tricks manual: enhance children's pro-social development; reduce children's anti-social behaviour; develop children's confidence and self-esteem; improve children's problem-solving skills; improve child-peer interactions; develop reasoning and empathy skills; improve parenting skills; improve parent/child interaction. This evaluation reports on the pilot of this programme.
Of the 21 outcomes investigated, 19 showed no significant differences between the children who attended Mate-Tricks and the control group. However, there were 2 statistically significant effects of the Mate-Tricks programme and 3 other effects that approached significance. The lack of effects and the few negative effects found in this study replicates findings in several recent studies of after-school behaviour programmes.