1.3 National youth strategy
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The last policy document on youth policy in Ireland is the National Youth Strategy. This strategy was introduced in 2015 and covered the years 2015-2020. The DCEDIY in their Statement of Strategy (2021-2023) stated that they are developing and launching a successor strategy based on the successes of Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures.
The main elements of the National Youth Strategy are:
- The socio-economic context of young people in Ireland
- Youth as a period of development
- The youth policy environment
- The National Youth Strategy Consultation
- The aim, objectives, and priority actions of the strategy
- The implementation framework of the strategy
- Enabling actions across the five national outcomes areas for children and young people
The Strategy’s aim is to enable all young people to realize their maximum potential, by respecting their rights and hearing their voices, while protecting and supporting them as they transition from childhood to adulthood. These line up with the five national outcomes outlined in Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures: The national policy framework for children and young people (2014-2020)
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 the universal strategy for all young people in Ireland. However, it also provides for the needs of young people experiencing, or at the risk of experiencing, the poorest outcomes.
As a result, marginalized or disadvantaged young people are identified as a target group within the National Youth Strategy.
Marginalized/disadvantaged young people include, but are not limited to:
- Young people marginalized by location or geography or socioeconomic reasons.
- Young travelers, Roma, young people from ethnic or religious minorities.
- Migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers.
- Young people with disabilities or mental health issues.
- Lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBTQ+) young people.
- Young carers.
- Young people in conflict with the law.
- Young people who are 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 National Youth Strategy had an long consultation process between December 2014 and March 2015 with over 4,600 people with 4000 of those young people under the age of 25. The main consultation method was online surveys. One survey was aimed at young people and another survey was aimed at those working with young people.
The results of the online surveys helped in the development of specific questions that were used in three consultation events. One of the events was aimed at young people aged under 18 years. Two other events were aimed at other stakeholders; including those working directly with young people and young people aged 18 and over. The results of the consultation events and survey helped to inform key priority areas in relation to the development of the National Youth Strategy.
A review of the National Youth Strategy was conducted in terms of progress, development, and implementation as part of a Mid-term review of Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures.
The Implementation Team in the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY) held a focus group with young people from the EU Structured Dialogue (known as ‘Young Voices’ in Ireland) as part of the review.
The DCEDIY was the government ministry responsible for the implementation of the National Youth Strategy at a national level and for ensuring that national policy is connected to local implementation.
The DCEDIY established a National Youth Strategy Led Team to coordinate, progress and monitor the implementation of the Strategy. Two sub-groups of the National Youth Strategy Lead Team were also established:
- One to engage with the Advisory Council.
- One to oversee the implementation of the Value for Money Policy Review of Youth Programmes.
The Youth Affairs Unit within the DCEDIY is responsible for the development of youth policies and strategies. The role of the Youth Affairs Unit is to support the alignment of youth policies and services with other Departmental policies and services and the broader policy and services field.
The National Youth Strategy has its basis in Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures: The National Policy Framework for Children and Young People 2014-2020, which was Ireland’s first National Policy Framework for children and young people aged 0- to 24-years. A new national framework is currently being developed.
The National Children’s Strategy: Our Children - Their Lives (2000-2010) was the first national youth policy in Ireland. The National Children’s Strategy had a strong focus on the rights of children and young people to be heard in matters that affect their lives.
The National Children’s Strategy was succeeded by the National Youth Strategy. The National Children’s Strategy targeted children under 0-18 years of age, whereas the National Youth Strategy targets children and young people aged 10-24 years.
The National Youth Strategy also differs from the National Children’s Strategy as it takes a cross-government, cross-sectoral, whole-of-society approach to youth policy. Within their Statement of Strategy (2021-2023) DCEDIY has plans for the development and launch of a successor Strategy to the National Youth Strategy and to Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures.