The overall aim of the Youth Affairs Unit (YAU) is to support and promote non-formal education and developmental opportunities for young people through which they can enhance their personal and social skills and competencies. Particular regard is had to the youth work needs of young people between the ages of 10 and 21, and to those who are socially or economically disadvantaged.
Specifically the YAU work:
To develop youth policies and strategies that enable and enhance young people’s personal and social development
To support the youth sector in providing effective youth work and associated opportunities for young people and to consolidate and enhance existing provision of youth services and initiatives
To monitor and assess the youth work structures, supports and services so as to ensure both quality of service and value for money
To support the alignment of youth policies and services with other Departmental policies and services and the broader policy and services field to help ensure an integrated and coordinated approach to the needs of young people
To liaise with EU/Council of Europe on youth policy and the implementation of EU programmes for youth.
The above aims seek to provide greater definition and direction to the youth work and youth services. Youth work can be described as being educational and elective, structured and systematic. Youth work operates in various settings spanning the non-formal education through to informal education yet alongside formal education and engages young people from ten to twenty-four years of age, representing a significant period in both development and duration. It is also predicated on the voluntary participation of young people.
In addition, youth work can act as a support to young people, who may be both engaged and external to the formal education system, and as a point of contact and referral to other youth related services.
National Youth Strategy 2015 - 2020
Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures, The National Policy Framework for Children and Young People 2014 – 2020 was launched by the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste and Minister for Children and Youth Affairs on the 16 April 2014. This whole of government policy framework is based on a clear vision for children and young people in Ireland. This vision is for:
Ireland to be one of the best small countries in which to grow up and raise a family. Where the rights of all children and young people are respected, protected and fulfilled; where their voices are heard and where they are supported to realise their maximum potential now and in the future.
Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures is Ireland’s first overarching National Policy Framework, which spans the ages 0 – 24. It captures all children and youth policy commitments across government departments in relation to five outcome areas:
1. Active and healthy, physical and mental well-being
2. Achieving full potential in all areas of learning and development
3. Safe and protected from harm
4. Economic security and opportunity
5. Connected, respected and contributing to their world.
The National Youth Strategy is one of three whole-of-Government strategies developed under the overarching National Policy Framework, the other two being a National Strategy on Children and Young People's Participation in Decision-Making (2015) and a National Early Years Strategy (forthcoming).
Work on the National Youth Strategy has been completed and arrangements are being made for its publication.
Developing the National Youth Strategy
Preparatory work on the development of a National Youth Strategy was carried out by the National Youth Work Advisory Committee in 2013/2014. Since then, the development of the National Youth Strategy has been overseen by a cross-sectoral National Youth Strategy Task Group convened by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) in July 2014.The Task Group has provided input and feedback on the development of the strategy and its aim, principles and emerging priority areas, as well as identifying a range of activities required to implement the strategy. The Task Group comprises representatives from Government departments and State agencies, the youth sector, and the academic and business sectors. An Advisory Group convened by the National Youth Council of Ireland, comprising representatives of the voluntary youth sector, also worked alongside the Task Group to help inform the development of the strategy.
The Strategy has also been informed by extensive consultation with young people, those working with young people, and key stakeholders over the period December 2014 to February 2015. The purpose of the consultation was to help determine the strategic objectives of and priority actions for the National Youth Strategy.
The consultation process comprised two strands i.e. online surveys that were developed in order to capture the views and opinions of young people and those working with young people (paid and voluntary), and the three consultation events in Croke Park, Dublin one with young people aged 15 to 18 years and two with other stakeholders. Both strands informed the priorities and the actions of the National Youth Strategy.