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EACEA National Policies Platform


1. Youth Policy Governance

1.4 Youth policy decision-making

Last update: 22 January 2021

LAST MODIFIED ON: 13/08/2020 - 11:48

On this page
  1. Structure of Decision-making
  2. Main Themes
  3. The National Agency for Youth
  4. Policy monitoring and evaluation

Structure of Decision-making

The Department of Education (DE) has primary responsibility for youth policy; specific duties include:

  • policy development for the Youth Service
  • governance and accountability of the Youth Council for Northern Ireland (see the article ‘Current debates and reforms’)
  • governance and accountability of the Education Authority Youth Service.

Other Northern Ireland Executive departments whose remits contain elements of youth policy are:

While the Northern Ireland Executive and, in particular, the Department of Education, is mainly responsible for developing youth policies, primary responsibility for delivery lies with the Education Authority.

The Education Authority (EA) is the non-departmental public body with  responsibility for both regional and local youth services funding and support.


Main Themes


Children and Young People’s Strategy

The Strategy for Children and Young People 2019-2029 recognises the interconnected nature of different aspects of young people’s lives that can affect educational outcomes: 

A child who does not experience economic well-being and lives in poverty will be more likely to have poor health, be exposed to environmental harms, feel isolated and experience educational inequalities and poorer outcomes.

The strategy focuses heavily on improving young people’s lives from an educational perspective, including committing to better collaboration between health and education sectors for children and young people’s with disabilities.

Priorities for Youth states that ‘there is a substantial suite of policies that youth work contributes to, or which can impact on the planning and delivery of youth work.’

Because the focus of the policy is on youth services as they relate to education, many of these are education policies.

According to Priorities for Youth, the non-formal curriculum for youth work provides additional opportunities for young people to develop the personal interpersonal and learning skills which the school curriculum aims to foster, along with the ability to think both creatively and critically.

Together: Building a United Community (T:BUC).

The Together: Building a United Community Strategy outlines a vision of a united community, based on equality of opportunity, the desirability of good relations and reconciliation. The Strategy reflects the Executive’s commitment to improving community relations and continuing the journey towards a more united and shared society. The Strategy outlines how the Government, community and individuals will work together to build a united community and achieve change against four key priorities, one of which is ‘Our Children and Young People’.  Under this priority, the aim is to continue to improve attitudes amongst young people and to build a community where they can play a full and active role in building good relations.

A range of strategic headline actions are identified throughout the Strategy focusing on children and young people. These include the United Youth Programme, a good relations programme that will provide flexible, high-quality, young-person-centred opportunities for 16–24 year olds who were not in education, employment or training (NEET). The programme will seek to engage with up to 10,000 14–24 year olds who are NEET or are at risk of becoming NEET. Pilots began in 2015-16 and an evaluation of the pilot phase was published by the Centre for Effective Services in July 2016. Other programmes include the Together Building a United Community Camps (TBUC), which is the Northern Ireland Executive’s Strategy to improve community relations and build a united and shared society. 

Pathways to Success (NEETs)

Pathways to Success: Preventing Exclusion and Promoting Participation of Young People (2012) is the Northern Ireland Executive’s overarching strategy to prevent exclusion and promote participation amongst young people who are not in education, employment or training ('NEET'), or at risk of becoming so. Among the programmes introduced in support of the policy is the Community Family Support Programme (CFSP). CFSP was piloted in 2013 with 44 families and a total of £4m was allocated for this project over the period 2013-15 to scale up and roll out the CFSP pilot, to provide disadvantaged families with specialist and employment support. The programme also aims to prevent younger family members becoming NEET. The CFSP is being funded for a further year under the European Social Fund (ESF) 2014-20 Programme at a cost of £9m. See sub-heading ‘Use of EU funds’ in the article ‘Funding youth policy’.


The National Agency for Youth

There is no National Agency for Youth in Northern Ireland.


Policy monitoring and evaluation

There are no mechanisms specifically for monitoring and evaluating the implementation and effects of youth policies. A range of tools are utilised for general policy monitoring including in-house research capability, commissioned research, surveys, impact assessments, consultations, etc. Some surveys, for example, may be conducted at regular intervals and new policy documents generally include a statement regarding the timing of any evaluation.

Further details of policy making, monitoring and evaluation processes are provided in the article on 'Evidence-based youth policy'.