1.6 Evidence-based youth policy
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The Irish government has a political commitment to evidence-based youth policy.
Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures: The national policy framework for children and young people (2014-2020) states ‘to be effective, policies and services must be supported by evidence and focused on the achievement of agreed outcomes.’
Similarly, the National Youth Strategy (2015-2020) is evidence informed and outcomes focused. The Strategy takes an evidence-informed approach stating, ‘implementation is guided by the learning from, and research into, policies, strategies and approaches and on best practice in service delivery.’ (Pg. 39)
The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY) has an Evidence into Policy Programme. The aim of this programme is to support and meet the Department’s research and evidence needs, with respect to core Departmental and Government policy priorities. This is done through a variety of research streams (building the evidence chain) and knowledge-transfer activities (promoting the uptake and use of evidence to drive policy change), that combine to support evidence-informed policymaking.
Cooperation between policymaking and research is irregular.
The DCEDIY has a research panel, which academic and independent researchers can apply to be part of. The DCEDIY sends requests for tenders for research projects to approved members of the DCEDIY Research Panel who can then apply to conduct the research. The DCEDIY also conducts training with members of their research panel. In the past, the DCEDIY also funded research master’s and PhDs in child and youth issues.
In the case of longer-term research studies, the DCEDIY has cooperation with research institutes. For example, there is ongoing cooperation between the DCEDIY, and the research institutes contracted to conduct a Longitudinal Study of Children in Ireland called Growing up in Ireland. These research institutes are the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) and Trinity College Dublin. The study began in 2006 and is managed by the DCEDIY in association with the Central Statistics Office (CSO). The ESRI and Trinity College Dublin regularly compile research reports and briefings based on the study’s findings in cooperation with the DCEDIY. There is an annual Growing up in Ireland conference that is supported by the DCEDIY.
The DCEDIY has several funded research programmes, including:
- The National Children’s Research Programme (which funds the Growing up in Ireland study)
- The DCEDIY Research Scholarship Programme
- 2010-12 DCEDIY/IRC Co-Funded Research Development Initiative
- The DCEDIY/IRC Scholarship Scheme.
The DCEDIY also leads a few strategies and schemes, including:
- Action Plan on School Age Childcare
- Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures
- First 5
- LGBTI+ National Youth Strategy, (2018-2020)
- Migrant Integration Strategy
- National Childcare Scheme
- National Disability Inclusion Strategy (2017-2021)
- National LGBTI+ Inclusion Strategy (2019-2021)
- National Strategy for Women and Girls (2017-2020)
- National Youth Strategy
- Our Voices Our Schools
- National Strategy on Children and Young People’s Participation in Decision-Making (2015-2020)
- National Traveler and Roma Inclusion Strategy (2017-2021)
- Shared Vision, Next Steps (2019-2024)
- UBU Your Place Your Space
- What Works
- Comprehensive Employment Strategy for People with Disabilities
The key policy themes informed by research include:
- Understanding of children and young people’s lives
- Youth justice issues
- Traveler and Roma attendance, participation, and engagement with the education system
- Youth participation in decision-making
- LGBTI+ issues.
Statistics on youth in Ireland are collected by several actors.
Central Statistics Office (CSO)
The Central Statistics Office (CSO) collects data in the Census of Population every five years on areas including education, health, ethnicity etc.
The Child and Family Agency (Tusla) collects data on children in the care of the state. Tusla Performance and Activity Reports are published every quarter.
The Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government
The lead local authorities for homelessness in each region, under the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, collects statistics on the number of young people aged 18-25 years who are homeless in Ireland every month.
Oberstown Children Detention Campus
Oberstown Children Detention Campus publishes an annual report ‘Key Characteristics of Young People in Detention.’ Statistics include a profile of key characteristics of young people, e.g., age, gender, care history, health issues, mental health issues, behavioral issues, substance misuse issues, engagement in education, learning difficulties etc. The research is aimed at providing a better understanding of the challenges faced by young people in conflict with the law, and to inform services and interventions to assist such young people. It also publishes monthly Occupancy Statistics.
Irish Prison Service
The Irish Prison Service publishes statistics on young people aged 17-25 years in prisons in Ireland. The data is published and updated on a yearly basis.
State of the Nation’s Children
The State of the Nation’s Children Reports are an outcome of the publication of the National Set of Child Well-Being Indicators in 2005. The DCEDIY (previously known as the Department of Children and Youth Affairs) published the reports every second year between 2006 and 2016.
Growing Up in Ireland
Growing Up in Ireland, the National Longitudinal Study of Children in Ireland, tracks the development of two nationally representative cohorts of children: a Child Cohort (recruited when the children were 9 years old) and an Infant Cohort (recruited when the children were 9 months old).
The Growing Up in Ireland study is funded by the DCEDIY, in association with the Department of Social Protection and the Central Statistics Office. The study is being carried out by a consortium of researchers led by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) and Trinity College, Dublin.
In the Statement of Strategy (2021-2023) recently published by the DCEDIY there has been an updated plan to deliver a new model of delivery for ‘Growing up in Ireland, the national longitudinal study of children and young people.’ This plan states that the DCEDIY expects to oversee the delivery of the Growing up in Ireland contract from 2020-2022 and to transfer the Growing up in Ireland into the Department and the CSO from January 2023.
Ombudsman for Children Office
The Ombudsman for Children’s Office conducts research on topical issues such as education, healthcare, and youth homelessness.
Hub na nÓg is part of DCEDIY and supports government departments, state agencies and non-government organisations to give children and young people a voice in decision-making on issues that affect their lives. DCEDIY’s Youth Participation Unit and Hub na nÓg regularly conducts consultations with children and young people on issues that affect their lives.
Consultations conducted with young people include:
- So, how was School Today?
- After School Care
- Cyber Crime
- Direct Provision System
- Ireland 2016 National Commemorative Programme
- Development of the National Obesity Strategy
- Universal Periodic Review.
Budget allocations which support research in the youth field are provided by the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.