On 16 April last the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste and my predecessor launched 'Better Outcomes: Brighter Futures: the National Policy Framework for Children and Young People 2014 -2020'. The Framework sets out a whole-of-Government approach to policies for children and young people, and is a clear vision of what we want for children and young people in Ireland.
My Department is taking the lead in implementing the Area-Based Childhood Programme. The programme is being co-funded by Atlantic Philanthropies and will have a total funding allocation of up to €29.7 million. The programme is being introduced on foot of the Programme for Government commitment to adopt an area-based approach to child poverty, drawing on best international practice and existing services to break the cycle of child poverty where it is most deeply entrenched, and improve the outcomes for children and young people. The programme will build on and continue much of the work of the Prevention and Early Intervention Programme, for which my Department had responsibility and which was also co-funded by Atlantic Philanthropies.
In relation to youth-specific services, my Department administers a range of funding schemes and programmes to support the provision of youth services to young people throughout the country, including those from disadvantaged communities. Targeted support for disadvantaged, marginalised and at-risk young people are provided through the Special Projects for Youth Scheme, the Young People's Facilities and Services Fund (Rounds 1 and 2), Local Drugs Task Force Projects and certain other programmes such as the Local Youth Club Grant Scheme and Youth Information Centres. In addition, some 31 national and major regional youth work organisations are supported under my Department's Youth Service Grant Scheme. The funding schemes support national and local youth work provision to some 380,000 young people and involve approximately 1,400 youth work staff in 477 projects, and 40,000 volunteers working in youth work services and communities throughout the country. In 2014, current funding of €49.78 million has been provided to my Department for these schemes.
My Department is developing a new youth strategy for later this year. This new strategy will aim to enhance the role of youth services in contributing to the achievement of the five national outcomes for children and young people set out in “Better Outcomes - Brighter Futures” i.e. that they are active and healthy, achieving, learning and developing, safe and protected from harm, economically secure, and connected, respected and contributing to society. The strategy will, inter alia, promote co-ordination between Government departments and youth sector organisations with a view to maximising the effectiveness of the State funding available to support services for young people in future years.