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The government aims to improve outcomes for children and young people and make Ireland one of the best countries in which to grow up and raise a family.

The strategic objectives of the government include:

  • implementing Better Outcomes Brighter Futures, a national policy framework for children and young people
  • making high quality early learning and care, and school age childcare, accessible
  • ensuring that parents are supported to parent confidently and positively
  • ensuring child welfare and protection systems are effective and responsive
  • promoting and supporting evidence-based policy, and letting children and young people participate in decisions that affect their lives
  • supporting high standards of compliance on governance and accountability
  • improving performance through the alignment of resources


The new National Childcare Scheme opened on 20 November 2019. The scheme provides both universal and income-related subsidies to help parents meet the cost of quality childcare.

A universal two-year pre-school programme called Early Childhood Care and Education Programme (ECCE) is available to all children within a certain age range. It provides children with their first formal experience of early learning before they start primary school.

The Better Start Access and Inclusion Model (AIM) core goal is to promote inclusion and to ensure that children with disabilities can meaningfully participate in the free pre-school Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme in mainstream pre-school settings. To achieve this goal one of its main objectives is to empower pre-school providers to deliver an inclusive pre-school experience. This ensures that every eligible child can fully participate in the ECCE programme and reap the benefits of early years care and education.

AIM is a child-centred model, with a range of universal and targeted supports. It offers tailored, practical supports based on need and does not require a formal diagnosis of disability

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Parenting Support

The national policy framework for children and young people, Better Outcomes Brighter Futures, identifies the importance of supporting parents. Supporting parents is 1 of 6 tranformational goals that are central to delivering the best future for children and their families.

The government supports parents through the provision of information, services and financial assistance. Support is provided through a variety of different government departments and agencies.

Some of these supports include:

  • family resource centres
  • financial assistance
  • information and advice
  • parenting programmes

Child Protection and Welfare

Over the past number of years, there has been significant attention paid to the delivery of child welfare and protection services in Ireland.

The government is responsible for developing the policy and legislative framework in relation to these services. It also has oversight of Tusla regarding the implementation of this policy and the effective delivery of services. Tusla has a primary responsibility to promote the safety and well-being of children.

There has been a move towards developing family and community support initiatives in order to identify and address problems at an early stage within the context of the family, while at the same time ensuring high quality care services for any child who cannot remain at home.

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Alternative Care

The Child Care Act 1991 sets out the law in relation to the care of children, particularly children who have been ill-treated, neglected or abused, or who are at risk.

The Act places a statutory duty on Tusla to:

  • promote the welfare of children who are not receiving adequate care and protection
  • provide Tusla with powers to deliver child care and family support services
  • facilitate immediate intervention by Tusla and An Garda Síochána when a child is in serious danger

The Act also enables the Courts to place a child in Tusla's care or under Tusla's supervision when that child has been ill-treated, neglected or abused or is at risk of such.

If Tusla is concerned that a child is not being looked after properly, a variety of supports may be offered to the parents to enable them to adequately care for their child.

This could include support from:

  • family support workers
  • social workers
  • youth workers
  • family resource centres
  • support groups
  • counselling services

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Youth Affairs

There is an overall mission to provide out of school supports to young people in their local communities. This enables them to overcome adverse circumstances and achieve their full potential by strengthening their personal and social competencies.

This is done by:

  • providing effective youth work, and associated opportunities for young people
  • enhancing existing services and initiatives in relation to young people
  • monitoring the youth work supports and services to ensure both quality of service and value for money
  • supporting the alignment of youth policies and services to help ensure an integrated and co-ordinated approach to young people's needs
  • liaising with the EU and the Council of Europe on youth policy and the implementation of EU programmes for youth

Funding of the Youth Services Provision aims to work alongside formal education in order to engage young people from 10-24 years of age to realise their maximum potential. This is done by respecting their rights and hearing their voices, while protecting and supporting them as they transition from childhood to adulthood.

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Youth Justice

The government's mission is to create a safer society by working in partnership to reduce youth offending through appropriate interventions and linkages into services.

The Irish Youth Justice Service's objective is to improve delivery of youth justice services and reduce youth offending. This challenge is met by focusing on diversion, rehabilitation, and the greater use of community-based interventions and the promotion of initiatives to deal with young people who offend.

Providing a safe and secure environment for detained children and supporting their early re-integration back into the community is also a key aim.

The Irish Youth Justice Service is focused on implementing the ‘Tackling Youth Crime’; Youth Justice Action Plan 2014-2018.

The Plan sits within the National Policy Framework, Better Outcomes Brighter Futures, for children and young people.

Oberstown Children Detention Campus in Lusk, Co. Dublin provides detention places to the Courts for girls and boys up to the age of 18 years ordered to be remanded or committed on criminal charges.


The government ensures that children and young people have a voice in the design, delivery and monitoring of services and policies that affect their lives, at national and local level.

This is undertaken through:

  • the development of effective structures for children’s participation in decision-making
  • conducting consultations and dialogues with children and young people
  • the development of evidence-based policy in keeping with national and international best practice
  • ensuring the inclusion of every child and young person in participation structures and initiatives

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Play and Recreation

One of the national outcomes in Better Outcomes Brighter Futures,the national policy framework for children and young people, is the active and healthy physical and mental wellbeing of all children.

This outcome requires initiatives that enable children to enjoy play, recreation, sport, arts culture and nature, which is in conjunction with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The Creative Ireland Programme was launched as the government's legacy programme arising out of the Ireland 2016 Centenary Programme. It was the main implementation vehicle for the priorities identified in Culture 2025.

The Creative Ireland Programme is a 5-year initiative, from 2017 to 2022 (building up to the centenary of the foundation of the State), which aims to place creativity at the centre of public policy. Including the voice of the child in programme development and delivery is an underlying principle of the programme.

It is designed to mainstream creativity in the life of the nation so that individually and collectively, Irish people can realise their full, creative potential.

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Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex (LGBTI+)

The LGBTI+ National Youth Strategy 2018-2020 was published on 29th June, 2018 and is a world first. It is a key commitment for the Department of Children and Youth Affairs as part of the 2016 Programme for Partnership Government.

The strategy is making a significant contribution towards the government’s broader commitment to continue to strive to ensure all LGBTI+ young people are visable, valued and included in Irish society.

The First Annual Report on the implementation of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Intersex (LGBTI+) National Youth Strategy 2018–2020 was published on October 24th, 2019.

Publications (513)

Minister Katherine Zappone Opens Youth Climate Justice Fund

16 March 2020; Department of Children and Youth Affairs; Press release;

COVID-19 (Coronavirus): Information for childcare providers

14 March 2020; Department of Children and Youth Affairs; Publication;