Tuesday, 14 February 2012
Department of Health
Child Care Services
Question 96: To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the degree to which she has examined the full extent of issues appertaining to youth affairs with particular reference to identification of the issues primarily affecting young persons materially or psychologically; the extent to which she can engage with the various stakeholders with a view to ensuring that, when possible, immediate action of a supportive nature is taken; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8035/12]
Question 617: To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the degree to which she and-or her Department has identified the need for child and youth support services at community level in all regions throughout the country; the extent to which the adequacy of such services have been identified; her plans for further development in the area; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8393/12]
Question 619: To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the extent to which community child and youth services has been identified as a necessary support for children and young people in the modern world; if any special emphasis is likely to be placed on such requirements in the future with particular reference to the need to provide safe and positive recreational alternatives for young persons; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8395/12]
Question 620: To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the extent to which she has received communications from various youth organisations throughout the country in the context of modernising child and youth policies; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8396/12]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 96, 617, 619 and 620 together.
Funding of some €56.626m is available from my Department in 2012 to support the provision of youth services and programmes to young people throughout the country through a number of schemes. These schemes include the Youth Service Grant Scheme, the Special Projects for Youth Scheme, the Young People's Facilities and Services Fund and certain other provisions including the Local Youth Club Grant Scheme, Youth Information Centres, the European Youth in Action Programme (administered by Léargas – the Exchange Bureau) and Gaisce – the President's Award.
This funding supports the delivery of a range of youth work programmes and services for all young people, including those from disadvantaged communities, by the voluntary youth sector. Youth work programmes and services are delivered to over 1.2m young participants in the various programmes by some 1,100 youth work staff and by a volunteer base of over 60,000.
The main objectives of the Youth Affairs area are to develop and implement coherent, coordinated and relevant youth policies and strategies to support the youth sector in providing effective non-formal education and developmental opportunities for young people through which they can enhance and develop their personal and social skills and competencies.
In that context, as previously advised to the Deputy, a new youth strategy is being developed by my Department. Through this work a clear policy framework will emerge that will aim to enhance the development, participation and support of young people.
As part of this work my Department has commissioned a review of international best practice in the field of youth development and support. The findings of this review will inform my Department's policy objectives and future funding provision with the aim of ensuring that the young people participating in youth services derive maximum benefit.
It is my intention that this policy framework will also facilitate and promote co-ordination and coherence across departments and services and will set out the priorities, rationale and criteria for future funding programmes. It will also accommodate issues relevant to young people within the 10 – 24 age range in informal or out-of-school settings that fall within the remit of my Department. The overall objective will be to clarify and enhance coherence, connectivity, coordination and delivery in youth services and related out-of-school services for young people and to ensure such provision is both quality and outcomes based.
The Youth Strategy is being developed in the overall context of the development of a new National Children and Young People's Policy Framework 2012 – 2017 by my Department, thereby ensuring support for the provision of services in the context of a whole child perspective.
Ensuring quality service delivery is an ongoing priority for my Department and in that context two quality standards initiatives are being progressed in the youth area that will help to ensure improvements in good practice, that services are outcomes focussed and that the young people involved are deriving the maximum benefit from their participation in the services and programmes provided.
Through the National Youth Work Advisory Committee (NYWAC), my Department is involved in ongoing and productive dialogue with the youth sector. This committee is composed of a chairperson and 32 members drawn equally from the voluntary and statutory sectors involved in the administration and provision of youth work programmes and services. Thirteen nominees from the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) and four from the Irish Vocational Education Association (IVEA) are represented on the committee.
This committee advises me on matters relating to the development and coordination of youth work policies, programmes and services. The committee meets on average four to five times a year a year. Through this committee, a forum is provided through which specific issues and concerns can be addressed and progressed.