1. Youth Policy Governance
Youth policy governance takes place at a national level in Ireland. The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY) is the main government department responsible for youth policy in Ireland. The DCEDIY's Statement of Strategy (2021-2023) states that the department ‘will develop, implement and influence evidence informed policies and legislation that improve the outcomes for those we serve.’
The National Youth Strategy and National Policy Framework
The main youth policy in Ireland is the National Youth Strategy. The latest of these youth strategies ran from 2015-2020 and targeted children and young people aged 10-24 years. The aim of the National Youth Strategy is to enable all young people to realise their maximum potential, by respecting their rights and hearing their voices, while protecting and supporting them as they transition from childhood to adulthood.
The National Youth Strategy takes a cross-government, cross-sectoral, whole-of-society approach to youth policy. The National Youth Strategy has its basis in Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures: The National Policy Framework for Children and Young People 2014-2020, which is Ireland’s first National Policy Framework for children and young people aged 0-24 years.
The National Youth Strategy aims to enable all young people to realise their maximum potential with regard to the five national outcomes outlined in Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures: The national policy framework for children and young people (2014-2020):
The five national outcomes of Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures are:
- Outcome 1: Active and healthy, physical and mental wellbeing
- Outcome 2: Achieving full potential in learning and development
- Outcome 3: Safe and protected from harm
- Outcome 4: Economic security and opportunity
- Outcome 5: Connected, respected and contributing to their world
The National Youth Strategy is a universal strategy for all young people in Ireland. However, it also provides for the needs of young people experiencing, or at risk of experiencing, the poorest outcomes. Therefore, marginalised/disadvantaged young people are identified as a target group within the National Youth Strategy.
Marginalised/disadvantaged young people identified in the strategy include:
- Young people marginalised by location or geography or socioeconomic reasons
- Young Travellers, Roma, young people from ethnic or religious minorities
- Migrants, refugees and asylum seekers
- Young people with disabilities or mental health issues
- Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) young people
- Young carers
- Young people in conflict with the law
- Young people who are not in employment, education or training (NEETs)
- Young parents
- Young people in care
- Young people in direct provision
- Lone parents under the age of 25 years.
The DCEDIY plans to build on the successes of Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures by developing a successor strategy and further developing cross-government, sectoral and inter-agency collaboration. The DCEDIY also plan to establish a new National Youth Sector Engagement Structure, with the implementation of a new Youth Strategy already having begun.
The Youth Justice Strategy
The Youth Justice Strategy was adopted in 2021 and will run until 2027. This strategy works with 105 Garda [Police] Youth Diversion Projects (GYDP) and aims to develop these programmes through evidence-based development and interventions. GYDPs engage young people in a range of ways including through education, training, employment support, personal development, and social enterprise initiatives.
The main aims of this Strategy include:
- Expanding the GYDP projects
- Preventing further offending by children and young adults
- Enhancing criminal processes including detention and post-detention measures to provide support and positive personal development for young offenders
- Improving the quality of supports available to vulnerable children or young adults.