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EACEA National Policies Platform: Youthwiki


4. Social Inclusion

4.6 Access to quality services

On this page
  1. Housing
  2. Social services
  3. Health care
  4. Financial services
  5. Quality assurance




According to the National Youth Council in Ireland (NYCI), many young people living in Ireland are either unable to afford to move out of home or struggle to access affordable housing. Youth homelessness is also an increasing issue as young people find it difficult to access affordable and quality housing in the private rented sector and/or the social housing sector. 


Young people leaving care are at higher risk of social exclusion and homelessness. The Child and Family Agency (Tusla) provide assistance to young people up to the age of 21 who have been in care, or up to 23 years if they are completing an education course. Aftercare plans can include arrangements for accommodation. 


Social services


Young people can access social services through local Social Welfare Offices. Information on social services can be accessed through local Citizens Information Centres. The Citizens Information website also provides comprehensive information on social services.


The Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) is a form of social housing support for people who have a long-term housing need. Recipients must qualify for social housing support to be eligible for HAP. 


Health care


Ireland has a government funded public healthcare system called the Health Service Executive (HSE). A person living in Ireland for at least one year is considered by the HSE to be 'ordinarily resident' and is entitled to either full eligibility (Category 1) or limited eligibility (Category 2) for health services.  


People who have not been resident in Ireland for at least one year must satisfy the HSE that it is their intention to remain for a minimum of one year in order to be eligible for health services. Dependants of such individuals must also contact the HSE to confirm their eligibility.


Category 1 - People with Medical Cards

  • Over 30% of people in Ireland have medical cards. Medical Cards allow people to get a wide range of health services and medicines free of charge.


Category 2 - People without Medical Cards

  • People without medical cards can still access a wide range of community and hospital health services, either free of charge or at reduced cost.


Further details on the HSE and medical cards are available in Chapter 7. 


Financial services


The social welfare system in Ireland is divided into three main types of payments: 

  • Social insurance payments 
  • Means-tested payments 
  • Universal payments


The main target groups of social welfare payments are:

  • One-parent families
  • Job-seekers 
  • People with a disability 
  • Carers 


Quality assurance


The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) is an independent authority that deals with quality assurance for people using health and social care services in Ireland.


HIQA’s role is to develop standards, inspect and review health and social care services and support informed decisions on how services are delivered. HIQA reports to the Minister for Health and engages with the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Affairs.  

HIQA inspects children and young people's services including:


HIQA also inspects all of the above services for the implementation of Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children (2017).