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Existence of a national youth strategy
The last policy document on youth policy in Ireland is the National Youth Strategy. The strategy was introduced in 2015 and covered the years 2015-2020.
Scope and contents
The main elements of the National Youth Strategy are:
- The basis and purpose of the strategy
- 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 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 also 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):
- 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 include, but are not limited to:
- 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 National Youth Strategy was informed by an extensive consultation process between December 2014 and March 2015 involving over 4,600 people, of whom almost 4,000 were 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 develop specific questions 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, which included those working directly with young people and young people aged 18 years 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.
Responsible authority for the implementation of the youth strategy
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 Lead Team to coordinate, progress and monitor 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.