The department has a wide range of policy responsibilities, which include discrete issues of policy relating solely to the remit of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs as well as a considerable cross-departmental mandate regarding children’s policy.
The development of policy is normally led at Principal Officer level and may include both cross-divisional as well as cross-department engagement at a very early stage.
In general terms, the approach to policy-making in the department contains a number of key stages and elements:
identify the key policy imperatives
scope the areas for change
assess national and international approaches and evidence
undertake a consultation process
These inputs form the basis for the policy.
Consultation processes may include:
direct engagement through ‘round tables’ and bilateral meetings with key stakeholders
the holding of Open Policy Debates
the seeking of written submissions from the stakeholders and the public in hard copy and on-line
The department includes consultation with children and young people in the development of all major policy documents. The implementation structures put in place under the National Policy Framework ‘Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures’ including the Sponsors Group; Advisory Council; and the Consortium are also utilised to inform all cross-cutting policy developments.
Major policy proposals are assessed at Assistant Secretary level in consultation with the Secretary General and the Minister.
Major policy initiatives, including those that have a cross-departmental aspect, are considered by the Management Board prior to final submission to Government for decision.
From time to time, use is also made of the Senior Officials Group on Social Policy and Reform and the related Cabinet Committee structure in respect of all cross-cutting policy proposals.
Policy which is being developed for the purposes of legislative change is managed on a cross-divisional basis. Policy and Legislation Units work together on the development and finalisation of the General Scheme and Heads of Bill consistent with the policy proposal and throughout the legislative drafting process.
The department's legal advisors also have a key role in advising both sets of units on an ongoing basis as an integral part of these processes.
The department is committed to positive public consultation, genuine engagement with stakeholders and to serving the government and people of Ireland in accordance with the role it has been given.