- What is the National Children's Strategy?
- Implementation of the National Children’s Strategy
- Towards 2016 – Ten-Year Framework Social Partnership Agreement 2006- 2015
The National Children's Strategy is a 10-year plan with a vision of:
'An Ireland where children are respected as young citizens with a valued contribution to make and a voice of their own; where all children are cherished and supported by family and the wider society; where they enjoy a fulfilling childhood and realise their potential.'
The three national goals of the strategy are:
- Goal 1 - Children will have a voice in matters which affect them and their views will be given due weight in accordance with their age and maturity.
- Goal 2 - Children's lives will be better understood; their lives will benefit from evaluation, research and information on their needs, rights and the effectiveness of services.
- Goal 3 - Children will receive quality supports and services to promote all aspects of their development.
The National Children’s Strategy, Our Children — Their Lives, was published in November 2000 after extensive consultation with parents and groups working with children, as well as with children themselves. The strategy is a 10-year plan of action, which calls on the statutory agencies, the voluntary sector and local communities to work to improve the quality of all children’s lives. It includes a range of actions across such areas as giving children a voice so that their views are considered in relation to matters that affect them, eliminating child poverty, ensuring children have access to play and recreation facilities, and improving research on children’s lives in Ireland.
The strategy provides the first comprehensive national policy document for the full range of statutory and non-statutory providers in the development of services for children and is underpinned by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The strategy adopts a 'whole child perspective', recognising the multidimensional nature of all aspects of children’s lives. The recognition that all parts of children’s lives are interlinked has, in turn, implications for public policy-making and the integration of services relating to children.
The National Children’s Office (NCO) was established in 2001 to lead and oversee the implementation of the National Children’s Strategy. The NCO was given the lead responsibility for Goal 1 (children’s participation) and Goal 2 (research). In regard to Goal 3 (improving supports and services), the NCO had a particular responsibility for progressing key policy issues identified as priorities by the Cabinet Committee on Children and which require cross-departmental/interagency action. Individual Government departments retain responsibility for implementing the actions relevant to their role in the National Children’s Strategy, with the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) monitoring progress and supporting coordination where appropriate.
The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs was given responsibility for overseeing implementation of the National Children’s Strategy and coordinating Government policy on children in order to maintain the policy coherence achieved through the publication of the strategy. The Minister has specific statutory delegated functions in each of the three departments involved — Health and Children, Education and Science, and Justice and Equality.
Download the National Children's Strategy
- Full Version
- Executive Summary
- Children’s Version
- 2005 Progress Report on the National Children's Strategy
Implementation of the National Children’s Strategy is monitored by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA). It submits an annual progress report to the Cabinet Committee on Social Inclusion about measures taken by Government departments to implement relevant actions of the strategy.
To date, three progress reports have been completed. These can be downloaded here:
- Progress Report on the Implementation of the National Children’s Strategy (2002)
- Progress Report on the Implementation of the National Children’s Strategy (2003)
- Progress Report on the Implementation of the National Children’s Strategy (2004)
In this Agreement, Chapter 3 on 'The Lifecycle Framework' deals with Government policy in relation to children. The following extracts are from Towards 2016:
Towards 2016 develops a new framework within which to address key social challenges by assessing the risks and hazards which the individual person faces and the supports available to them at each stage in the lifecycle. The key lifecycle stages are children, people of working age, older people and people with disabilities (who, in accordance with the policy of mainstreaming, will benefit from measures at all stages of the lifecycle).
In this way, the lifecycle approach adopts the perspective of the person as the centrepiece of social policy development and should help policy to evolve in a manner that encompasses actions across relevant departments and agencies.
The lifecycle approach also offers the potential of a more streamlined, outcomes-focused approach to monitoring and reporting on progress within social partnership across key national strategies and for improved availability and use of data.
The Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) brings together the key areas of policy for children’s services (other than health and school-age education services) in one structure. The key areas of policy within the DCYA are Child Welfare and Protection, Childcare, Early Years Education, Youth Justice and the National Children’s Strategy.
The co-location of each of these areas within the DCYA will bring a cohesive approach to the delivery of services based on the recognition that they are fundamentally interlinked and must be responded to on this basis in order to secure the best outcomes for children and young people.
At national level, there will be an Implementation Group, chaired by the DCYA and involving the relevant Government departments, Health Service Executive (HSE), representatives of local authorities, the education sector and other key agencies as required, which will link with the Expert Advisory Group on Children, being established by the HSE.
At local level, a multi-agency Children’s Services Committee will be established within each of the City/County Development Boards. These committees will be chaired by the HSE, which is best placed to drive this initiative to achieve coordinated and integrated services.
The establishment of effective systems and strategies to enable the DCYA to meet commitments under the National Children’s Strategy will be a key challenge in the initial strategic timeframe, which is set to conclude in 2010. A second 10-year National Children’s Strategy will then be developed, in conjunction with stakeholders, in the light of the experience gained under the first strategy (which covers the years 2000 to 2010), informed by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
As the Government Office with overarching responsibility for tackling poverty, the Office for Social Inclusion will also work closely with the DCYA in promoting the social inclusion agenda in relation to children and their families, and in identifying and driving strategic responses in this area.
Research and Data
The DCYA will continue to undertake research and data development to assist good policy formulation, including overseeing the National Longitudinal Study of Children in Ireland. In addition, the findings from other national studies (such as the HBSC surveys on Health Behaviour in School-aged Children) and tools (such as the National Set of Child Well-Being Indicators) will assist in monitoring the impact of services and programmes in terms of child outcomes, including children at risk and needing preventative services, and in planning and evaluating policies, programmes and resource allocations.
A new National Data Strategy to support the planning and delivery of policy and services in relation to early childhood care and education and school-age childcare will be developed by the DCYA in liaison with the HSE, Centre for Early Childhood Development Education (CECDE) and other relevant agencies. The strategy will identify additional key areas where data is required to inform policy and, in the longer term, to evaluate both the impact of investment on the quality of life experienced by children and where specific targeting of resources is most needed.