Implementation of the Value for Money and Policy Review of Youth Funding Programmes been a priority for my Department for some time and represents a significant multistrand change management programme.
Replacement of the existing four targeted schemes with a fit for purpose single targeted scheme is one of the key recommendations of the review. In July 2018 I brought the high-level scheme outline to Government for Information; this outline was arrived at following detailed consultation with the sector and young people, relevant evidence review and a sampling process. The outline stated that young people aged 10 to 24 years of age who are described in the National Youth Strategy (NYS) as marginalised, disadvantaged or vulnerable will be the primary target group for services available through the TYFS.
This outline has since provided the basis for further development of the scheme, the final drafting process of which is currently underway. In addition to development of the new scheme, significant other changes have been introduced including; in January of this year, four funding streams were successfully collapsed in to one scheme in advance of the introduction of the new scheme in 2020. In April 2019, a Service Level Agreement (SLA) was signed between my Department and each of the 16 Education and Training Boards (ETBs) and the process of transferring funds to their functional ETB area began on a phased basis.
Throughout this reform my Department has been engaging proactively with the stakeholders and sample services in relation to various component of the new scheme. In 2018, 6 ETBs participated in a trial and co-design of the Area Profile, Needs Assessment and Service Requirement Tool (APNARS). The tool is designed to enable Education and Training Boards (ETB), who have a mid-level governance role in the new youth funding scheme, to gather and use available demographic data and local knowledge to produce an area profile of their ETB functional area to enable better targeting of services for young people. Based on the information gathered, the ETB analyse the needs of young people in the area and consider the extent to which these needs are being met within existing youth service provision. Completing the tool provides ETBs with a systematic and evidence-informed assessment of needs to inform judgements about priorities for service provision. It also ensures that youth services/projects funded under the new scheme are focused on working to meet the identified needs and key issues in the area in line with the stated objectives of the new scheme. The tool also provides a standardised national template for producing an area profile, needs assessment and Service Requirement document across all ETBs. The tool is a critical component in an evidence-informed approach to providing well targeted services to young people. Service Requirement documents will issue from ETBs to services/projects who are applying for funding through the grant application process on the targeted groups and key issues that are priority.