National policy on children and young people

Introduction

The National Policy Framework for Children and Young People covers policy issues such as:

  • Early childhood care and education
  • Youth justice
  • Child welfare and protection
  • Children and young people's participation in decision-making
  • Research on children and young people
  • Youth work

The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth is responsible for the national policy for children and young people.

National Policy Framework for Children and Young People

The most recent national policy for children and young people was called ‘Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures 2014-2020 (pdf)’. It outlined a shared set of goals for children and young people from birth to 24 years, including to:

  • Be active and healthy, with positive physical and mental wellbeing
  • Achieve their full potential in all areas of learning and development
  • Be safe and protected from harm
  • Have economic security and opportunity
  • Be connected, respected and contributing to their world

All Government departments, agencies, statutory services and the voluntary and community sectors aimed to work towards these goals.

‘Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures’ was the first national policy framework for children and young people in Ireland.

Due to COVID-19, a new national policy to succeed ‘Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures’ has been delayed until 2022.

National Strategy for Research and Data on Children’s Lives

The National Strategy for Research and Data on Children’s Lives 2011–2016 (pdf) set out a plan for research and data on children’s lives in Ireland over the period 2011–2016 and after that.

The strategy recognised the importance of good information in helping us understand how children and young people are developing, as well as how policies and services impact on their lives.

Strategy on Children and Young People's Participation in Decision-making

The National Strategy on Children and Young People's Participation in Decision-making (2015–2020) (pdf) was developed as part of the National Policy Framework for Children and Young People.

The strategy identified actionable objectives, including:

  • Children and young people will have a voice in decisions made in their local communities
  • Children and young people will have a voice in decision-making in early education, schools and the wider formal and non-formal education systems
  • Children and young people will have a voice in decisions that affect their health and well-being, including on the health and social services delivered to them
  • Children and young people will have a voice in the Courts and legal system
  • Promoting effective leadership to champion and promote participation of children and young people
  • Development of education and training for professionals working with and on behalf of children and young people
  • Mainstreaming the participation of children and young people in the development of policy, legislation and research

National Youth Strategy

The National Youth Strategy 2015–2020 (pdf) builds on the National Policy Framework ‘Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures’.

The strategy sets out the Government’s aims and objectives for young people aged 10 to 24 years, so that they can achieve the goals and outcomes set out in the policy framework (see above).

Children and Young People’s Services Committees

Children and Young People’s Services Committees (CYPSCs) are responsible for improving the lives of children and families at local and community level, through integrated planning, working and service delivery.

All major organisations and agencies working locally on behalf of children and young people are represented on CYPSCs.

The CYPSCs make sure that professionals and agencies work together, so that children and families get better and more accessible services. Find more information about CYPSCs on their website.

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

The United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is a major international human rights treaty that sets out the specific rights of children. The UNCRC was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1989 and Ireland ratified it in 1992.

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (pdf) covers many issues, such as:

  • Health
  • Housing
  • Social security
  • Education
  • Leisure and play
  • Child protection and welfare
  • Criminal justice
  • International protection
  • Access to information
  • Participation in decision-making

Ireland submits regular reports to the UN Committee about the implementation of rights under the Convention. Ireland also appears before the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child for an oral examination.

Ireland’s next report under the Convention is due in February 2022, and the hearing is scheduled for September 2022.

Further information

You can get more information about the National policy for children and young people in Ireland from the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.

Page edited: 8 November 2021