The North South Ministerial Council
The North South Ministerial Council (NSMC) was established under the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement (1998), to develop consultation, cooperation and action within the island of Ireland - including through implementation on an all-island and cross-border basis - on matters of mutual interest and within the competence of the Administrations, North and South. The NSMC, therefore, comprises Ministers of the Northern Ireland Executive and the Irish Government, working together to take forward cooperation between both parts of the island to mutual benefit.
There are four levels of meetings held by the NSMC
i) Institutional Meetings
ii) Plenary Meetings
iii) Sectoral Meetings
iv) Officials' Meetings
For further information on levels i) to iii) please use the following link .
Officials meetings - Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) and Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPSNI)
Following a North South Ministerial Council Plenary meeting in February 2008, the DHSSPSNI and the then Office of the Minister for Children (now DCYA) established a Cross Border Group on Child Protection, comprising officials from relevant departments to intensify cooperation on Child Protection including:
early progress on an all-island Child Protection awareness campaign;
the identification of other medium/long term measures to improve Child Protection, including an examination of an all-island approach to child protection, focusing in particular on vetting and exchange of information;
any areas for cooperation on children’s services emerging from the North South Feasibility Study on health and social services.
The cross border group is co-chaired by both Departments.
In June, 2008, it was agreed to take forward 5 initiatives through a sub-group structure, in areas where cooperation, shared learning and best practice could be of benefit to both jurisdictions, and to meet every six months to review progress.
In July 2012, the Steering Group agreed that the work of the first five sub-groups had largely been completed and they were accordingly stood down. The Steering Group explored a number of areas of potential cooperation and a new work programme was developed focussing on five specific work streams:
Work Stream 1 Knowledge Exchange Forum
This work stream is designed to promote continued learning through use of research and evidence based practice. The principle of knowledge exchange will also underpin progress in other work streams through the organisation of smaller scale, more targeted exchanges on specific themes on a more frequent basis.
Child Care in Practice Journal 20th Anniversary All Ireland Learning Event - Ballymascanlon Hotel, Dundalk, Co. Louth - 22 October 2014
This conference was organised by the Child Care in Practice Journal, which is celebrating 20 years of supporting practitioners across all disciplines to publish their work with children and families. The conference was a learning event under the auspices of the child protection agenda of the North South Ministerial Council, and it was co-hosted by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, the Child Care in Practice Journal and the Children and Young People's Strategic Partnership. It brought together prominent academics, policy makers, managers in statutory and not for profit organisations as well as practitioners from all over Ireland, to showcase examples of good practice in making positive changes for children and families.
Work Stream 2 Quality and Effectiveness
This work stream will progress initiatives to build work-force capacity and improve the quality and effectiveness of social work and social care work interventions and practice. The issue of normal and abnormal child development has been identified as an area for development. In this regard, it is intended to scope the potential for adapting recently developed Northern Ireland (NI) Apps for social workers on child development for the 0-6 age ,7-12 and 13-18 age groups for the ROI.
Work Stream 3 Deaths of Children in Care
This work stream will contribute to learning in relation to deaths of children in care by developing an overview and analysis of the features of deaths of children in care in both jurisdictions.
Outcomes from this work stream over its lifespan could include:
Shared pool of review panel members
Development of an agreed toolkit to inform reviews
The development of a formal ‘information and practice’ sharing protocol
Work Stream 4 Cultural Competence in Safeguarding
This work stream is designed to assist the development of common guidance for practitioners working with other cultures and to develop a publication of Good Practice Notes for work with new communities.
To date progress in relation to this workstream includes participation in a relevant PSNI conference in 2013, and the sharing of UK/NI guidelines in relation to forced marriage. In order to further progress this workstream, officials have agreed that both jurisdictions will conduct an initial audit of issues in this area, and culturally specific services already available. This sharing of knowledge and experience at practice and policy level will remain an ongoing feature as the work programme develops over the coming months.
Work Stream 5 Specialist Services
This work stream seeks to assess the opportunities to develop specialist services on a cross-border basis to assist in meeting the needs of those children and families where there is a requirement for a high volume of expertise combined with a low volume turnover of clientele. The work stream will also focus on developing very specific criteria for referral to such specialist services.
Specialist teams have been established on both sides of the border to provide therapeutic interventions for children in care and detention. The experience of these teams will form part of the ongoing scoping of how best to progress this work stream in the future.
A review of the full work programme is planned for late 2015.