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The Youth Work Act 2001 is the main legal framework for youth work in Ireland. It defines youth work (as discussed in Chapter 10.1) and sets out a legal framework for the provision of youth work programmes and services. The Act does not establish specific domains for youth work but recognises youth work as being complementary to formal, academic or vocational education and training. The act does not define the general types of activities that are considered part of youth work, but it sets out that Vocational Education Committees (which have since been replaced by Education and Training Committees) are responsible for coordinating youth work activities. It also identifies voluntary youth work organisations as the primary provider of youth work. No primary targets of youth work are identified.
An additional €5 million allocation for youth services was assigned in the 2021 budget, bringing the total 2021 allocation for youth organisations to approximately €70m. This budget supports:
- UBU Your Place, Your Space, a targeted youth funding scheme ran by The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (discussed further in Chapter 5.6 Supporting youth organisations).
- the universal Youth Services Grant Scheme. This grant is awarded to national and major regional voluntary organisations, to ensure the emergence, promotion, growth and development of youth organisations with distinctive philosophies and programmes aimed at the social education of young people.
- the implementation of the LGBTI+ National Youth Strategy 2018-2021.
- continuation of the Youth Climate Justice Fund.
- youth information centres, local youth clubs and other local, national and international initiatives.
The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth provides public financial support to youth organisations. It administers a range of funding schemes and programmes to support the provision of youth services to young people throughout the country including those from disadvantaged communities.
Ireland’s National Policy Framework for Children and Young People 2014-2020 stated that politicians, policy-makers, educators, health professionals, youth workers, the police (Gardaí), the judiciary and legal professions, social workers and all who work with children and young people need to work collaboratively across boundaries.
The National Youth Strategy 2015-2020 also recognised the importance of collaboration between statutory bodies/agencies and non-governmental organisations in the pursuit of better outcomes for young people. A principle of the National Youth Strategy and its implementation is that the ‘Government and other stakeholders work collaboratively, with vertical and horizontal communication and cooperation, to achieve more effective services and supports for young people’ (pg iv).
The National Quality Standards Framework (NQSF) for Youth Work is a support and development tool for youth work organisations. It is based on partnership and cooperation, with clearly defined roles and boundaries. The NQFS is discussed further in Chapter 10.4 Quality and innovation in youth work.