Skip to main content


EACEA National Policies Platform: Youthwiki


1. Youth Policy Governance

1.9 Current debates and reforms

On this page
  1. Forthcoming policy developments
  2. Ongoing debates


Forthcoming policy developments

The Child Care Act

The Child Care Act (1991), which is discussed in Chapter 1.2 National youth law, is currently under review by the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY). The review is linked to a commitment in Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures: The National Policy Framework for Children and Young People to ‘review and reform, as necessary, the Child Care Act, 1991.’


The purpose of the review is to:

  • Identify what is working well within legislation including its impact on policy and practice;
  • Address any identified gaps, operational improvements and new areas for new development;
  • Capture current legislative, policy and practice developments;
  • Building on those steps, revise the original Act.

During 2020 an online consultation took invited comment on several initial proposals to amend the legislation. The consultation paper is available.



As of January 2021, the next PEACE programme, PEACE PLUS, is at an advanced stage of preparation and finalisation. A public statutory consultation on the draft Programme is expected to take place in early 2021. While the programme is expected to begin during 2021, the exact date is yet to be released and some delay is expected due to Covid-19.


The PEACE PLUS programme will run from 2021-2027. The overall objective of the PEACE PLUS Programme will be to build prosperity and peace within the region, to ensure that this Programme will leave a lasting and tangible legacy. The programme will achieve this by funding activities that promote peace and reconciliation and contribute to the cross-border economic and territorial development of the region. The framework developed for PEACE PLUS includes the following six themes:

  1. Building Peaceful and Thriving Communities 
  2. Delivering Economic Regeneration and Transformation 
  3. Empowering and Investing in Young People 
  4. Healthy and Inclusive Communities 
  5. Supporting a Sustainable Future 
  6. Building and Embedding Partnership and Collaboration 


For more information on the PEACE programmes see Chapter 1.8 Cross-border cooperation.


Ongoing debates

Young people living in Direct Provision

There is an ongoing debate around young people living in Direct Provision in Ireland. Direct provision is a means of meeting the basic needs of food and shelter for asylum seekers directly while their claims for refugee status are being processed in Ireland. The main issues debated are the negative impact of Direct Provision on young people, e.g. safety, impact on mental health, lack of space, food, education, and the long waiting times to be processed.

The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth conducted consultations with young people living in Direct Provision centres in 2017. The consultations report heard what children and young people living in Direct Provision like, dislike and what they would like to change or improve about the places in which they live.

The main actors involved in the debate are the Irish Government, the Department of Justice, the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA), the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, the Ombudsman for Children, NGOs and the media. 

The Ombudsman for Children, the office that investigates complaints made by children and young people or on their behalf in Direct Provision, has stated that the main issues complained about include financial supports, accommodation, communication, complaint management and management of transfers to different centres or larger accommodation. 

Young people experiencing homelessness  

There is a debate on the number of young people experiencing homelessness and living in emergency accommodation as a result of the current ‘housing crisis’ in Ireland. This includes young people under 18 years of age living with their parents in emergency accommodation and young people aged 18-24 years living in homeless accommodation. The Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government Homelessness Report for October 2019 show that 909 young people aged 18-24 years are homeless in Ireland. The main topics debated are the negative impact of homelessness on young people, e.g. lack of space, mental health, education and lack of social housing.


The Ombudsman for Children published a report on consultations with children and young people under 18 years of age living in homeless accommodation in 2019, outlining their views and experiences of living in Family Hubs.


The main actors involved in the debate are the Irish Government, the Department of the Environment, Housing and Local Government, the Ombudsman for Children, homeless charities and the media. 


Young people LGBTI+

There is a debate around the issues affecting LGBTI+ young people in Ireland. The 2019 School Climate Survey conducted by BeLonG To Youth Services identified a number of issues affecting LGBTI+ young people. These included anti-LGBTI+ bullying, homophobic remarks, discrimination, harassment and assault. Impacts on LGBTI+ young people included absenteeism, lack of sense of belonging, isolation and stigmatisation.


Solutions proposed to address these issues included, ‘Safe and supportive schools with inclusive staff, representation of LGBTI+ identities in the curriculum and explicit anti-bullying policies results in reduced levels of anti- LGBTI+ bullying and a student body with a higher sense of belonging and better educational outcomes.’

The social inclusion of LGBTI+ youths is promoted through the National LGBTI+ Inclusion Strategy 2019-2021 and the LGBTI+ National Youth Strategy 2018-2020. These strategies are discussed in Chapter 4.3 Strategy for the social inclusion of young people.


Young people on reduced timetables

The issue of young people being placed on reduced timetables by schools is an ongoing debate. The term “reduced timetable” is used to describe:

  • a reduced day in school where, by arrangement with the school authorities, a student arrives to school after the usual starting time or leaves before the end of the school day, and/or,
  • a reduced week where a student may not attend the full five days each week.

The main topics debated are the impact of reduced timetables on young people with disabilities and from the Traveller community and reduced timetables being used as a methods of dealing with challenging behaviour. 

The main actors involved in the debate are the Department of Education, schools, charities such as Barnardo’s, Inclusion Ireland and the Ombudsman for Children. The Ombudsman for Children addressed the Oireachtas (Irish legislature) Committee on Education and Skills on the issue of reduced timetables in June 2019.

Draft guidelines on the use of reduced timetable/reduced day in schools were developed by the Department of Education; Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth; and Tusla Educational Welfare Service in September 2019. 

Barnardos children’s charity published a submission on these draft guidelines in October 2019.

Inclusion Ireland, the National Association for People with an Intellectual Disability, also produced a submission on reduced timetables.

The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Education and Skills produced an Interim Report on the Committee’s Examination on the Current Use of Reduced Timetables in 2019.