The Young People’s Facilities and Services Fund was set up in 1998 to assist in the development of preventative strategies in a targeted manner through the development of youth facilities, including sports and recreational facilities, and services in disadvantaged areas where a significant drug problem exists or has the potential to develop. The role of the National Assessment Committee, set up at that time, was to assess applications for initiatives to be funded. The Young People's Facilities and Services Fund transferred to my Department on its establishment in 2011 and the Fund along with the Special Projects for Youth scheme, which also targets young people who are vulnerable and at risk of disadvantage, is now the subject of a comprehensive Value for Money and Policy Review which is nearing completion in my Department.
In 2014, almost €18.4m will be made available under the Young People's Facilities and Services Fund to over 230 established youth projects. The National Assessment Committee last met in June 2011. A further meeting of the Committee has not been arranged as there have been no new proposals for funding initiatives for assessment.
Oversight and monitoring arrangements in respect of the youth services funded by my Department under the various schemes are an important priority for my Department in line with its reporting and accountability responsibilities for the provision of quality services that are publicly funded. All youth projects are required to report to my Department on their activities, use of funding, and their implementation of quality standards in their service provision. These responsibilities include the provision of a progress report with quantitative and qualitative data, details of income and expenditure and the provision, on an annual basis, of audited accounts. Youth projects are now implementing the National Quality Standards Framework in the design and delivery of their services for young people and provide an annual report to my Department.
The statutory Education and Training Boards (ETBs) that administer funding on behalf of my Department have an important role in these processes and youth officers of the ETBs liaise with projects at local level to support compliance and implementation of progressive quality standards in services for young people.
The role of the National Assessment Committee will be examined in the context of the recommendations of the Value for Money and Policy Review of youth funding programmes which, it is anticipated, will be available in the mid-Summer. The findings will inform the development of a new youth strategy, which is at preliminary stage in the Department and they will shape the development of appropriate structures for the administration and monitoring of funding for youth services in the future, to ensure quality and outcomes-focused youth services provision for young people. As soon as the review is available, my Department will convene a meeting of the National Assessment Committee to discuss the review’s findings and the considerations it raises for the monitoring and governance of funding programmes in the future to ensure best outcomes for vulnerable young people.
My Department is represented on the Oversight Forum for Drugs and arrangements have been made to keep the Forum updated on the progress made in finalising the Value for Money and Policy Review.