Youth work in Ireland has generally been implemented by non-statutory or non-governmental organisations. However, under the Youth Work Act 2001, there is a statutory responsibility to ensure the provision of youth work programmes or youth work services. This Act also creates a statutory responsibility to ensure the development and co-ordination of policies relating to youth work programmes and youth work services in both the Irish and the English languages.
The Youth Work Act 2001 (Section 3) defines youth work as a:
planned programme of education designed for the purpose of aiding and enhancing the personal and social development of young persons through their voluntary participation, and which is —
(a) complementary to their formal, academic or vocational education and training; and
(b) provided primarily by voluntary youth work organisations.