The Youth Work Act 2001 primary aims were to expand the functions of vocational education committees concerning youth work, including granting permissions, appointing a Youth Work Assessor, establishing Voluntary Youth Councils, coordinating organizations engaged in youth work, and forming the National Youth Work Advisory Committee. The 2001 Act underwent significant amendments by the Education and Training Boards Act 2013.
According to the Act, a young person refers to an individual below 25 years old. Youth work refers to an organized educational program designed to aid and improve the personal and social development of young individuals through voluntary participation.
It complements formal, academic, or vocational education and is primarily provided by voluntary youth work organizations. Youth work services encompass both direct and indirect services that contribute to the provision of youth work.
The Minister is obligated, as far as feasible, to:
- Develop and coordinate policies related to youth work programs and services in both Irish and English.
- Ensure coordination between youth work programs/services and educational programs for young persons.
- Allocate funds annually to support youth work programs and services.
- Conduct research in the field of youth work and its programs.
- Annually monitor youth work programs/services funded by the legislation.
- Assess every three years the programs/services offered by approved voluntary youth work organizations or authorized bodies receiving funds.
- Evaluate every three years programs or services funded by the Education and Training Boards (ETBs).
- Every three years, evaluate youth worker programs or services in line with a resolution by an ETB.
The Minister must consider the fair treatment of male and female young persons regarding access to youth work. They should also take into account the numbers of male and female individuals likely to participate, residing in Gaeltacht areas with Irish as their primary language, and aging from 10 to 21. Moreover, the Minister should strive to address the information needs of young individuals, especially those aged between 10 and 21 and other socially and economically disadvantaged youth.
Programmes & Services
In addition to other functions, ETBs must, within their financial constraints, ensure the provision of youth work programs or services. They should coordinate plans and activities with approved national voluntary youth work organizations, designated local voluntary youth work organizations, and authorized bodies within their area, subject to determined conditions and guidelines issued by the Minister in consultation with the National Youth Work Advisory Committee.
ETBs are responsible for:
- Coordinating youth work programs and services with educational programs.
- Ensuring special attention to the needs of persons aged 10 to 21 and other socially and economically disadvantaged young individuals in delivering youth work programs or services.
- Monitoring and evaluating the funded youth work programs or services, particularly regarding incurred expenditure.
- Drafting a Development Plan and making reasonable efforts to ensure all youth work in the area aligns with the Plan.
- Reporting and consulting with persons directed by the Minister on youth work matters.
When coordinating, vocational education committees must consider the treatment of male and female young individuals in access to work and the expected participation rates.
If an organization receiving financial aid fails to comply with conditions or directions, the ETB may reduce or withdraw the assistance. Prior notice is required, allowing the organization 21 days to provide reasons against the reduction or withdrawal. The Youth Work Assessor will assess these reasons and recommend actions, which the ETB will consider before making a decision.
If an ETB finds a lack of provided necessary youth work programs or services, it shall invite organizations to submit proposals via newspaper notices. After assessment and consultation, if none of the proposals is deemed suitable, the ETB will inform the organizations, allowing them to present representations for reconsideration.
Upon resolution, an ETB may provide a youth work program or service for up to three years unless alternative arrangements are unavailable. Every third year, they must review the situation to explore alternative arrangements with relevant organizations before continuing the provision.
Where the Minister is of the view that the ETB fails to perform its functions under the Act, it may remove the functions and transfer them to the Chief Executive Officer of the committee or such other body as the Minister may specify for a period not exceeding two years. The Minister is to follow a specific procedure and allow for representations to be made before making any such decision.
An ETB shall, at such times and for such periods as it relates, prepare a Youth Work Development Plan for its area. The Plan is to be submitted to the Minister for approval. It is to specify the youth work requirements in its area and the measures required to meet those requirements. It is to have particular regard to certain factors such as the needs of persons between 10 and 21, socially and economically disadvantaged persons, and young persons whose first language is Irish.
A Development Plan may be adopted as approved or amended by the Minister. The Development Plan shall be available for inspection by members of the public during normal business hours.
In each financial year, an ETB shall examine the implementation of the Development Plan, the effect and efficiency of the youth work programs and services provided, the treatment of male and female young persons in relation to access to work, the numbers of male and female young persons accessing work, and cause an evaluation to be made of the programs or services within its area in relation to the matters specified in the Plan. They shall set out comments in the Youth Work Report annually and submit it to the Minister.
The Minister may issue directions to the ETB in relation to the preparation of the Annual Report, with which the ETB must comply. The ETB shall consult with the youth work committee regarding the preparation of its Report.
Minister Require Services
Without limiting the functions of the ETB, the Minister may take steps to ensure the provision of youth work programs or services or both in two or more areas in which, in the opinion of the Minister, they are required. This can be done by providing assistance, including financial assistance, to one or more approved national voluntary youth work organizations or authorized organizations or a supplementary youth work program or service that is complementary to the approved Development Plan in an ETB.
The Minister may also provide assistance to one or more approved national voluntary work organizations, designated local voluntary youth work organizations, or authorized organizations, where they are deemed necessary.
Assessor of Youth Work
The Minister is to appoint an Assessor of Youth Work to exercise functions under the legislation. The Assessor may examine the operation of programs and services and their books, accounts, and records. Providers of youth work services must furnish documents as may be required. The Assessor shall submit to the Minister and to the provider of the program or services a report setting out findings.
The Assessor is to submit an annual report and such other reports as the Minister may require. They shall contain the results of the assessments in accordance with the above and such other matters as the Minister may require. The Assessor is to be employed by the Minister in accordance with such terms and conditions, which may include secondment from another office, as the Minister, with the consent of the Department of Finance, may determine.
The Minister is to appoint the National Youth Work Advisory Committee to advise and consult with the Minister in relation to youth work. They shall advise the Minister on the provision and coordination of youth work programs and services, the development and implementation of youth work policies, coordination of youth work programs and services with general educational services, contents of guidelines and regulations as may be issued by the Minister above, criteria for approval of organizations, criteria which a voluntary youth work organization must normally fulfill for designation.
The Minister is to appoint a chairperson, and there are nominees from various other departments including Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Social and Community Affairs, Environment, Health, Justice, Arts, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht as well as FAS/SOLAS. There were provisions for the appointment of nominations by the Prescribed National Representative Youth Work Organization. The Minister is to try and ensure gender balance.
An ETB committee is to appoint a youth work committee for its area to make recommendations in relation to the ETB on the performance of its functions and advise on matters on which the ETB requests advice. There are procedures where the ETB resolves not to implement a recommendation. The committee is to be given the reasons and may request that the matter be reconsidered. Where it is still not followed, the committee and a Minister are to be informed, stating the reasons.
Youth work committees are to be nominated from various parties including nominees by various entities including the ETB, certain government departments, SOLAS, Health Boards, county councils, Údarás na Gaeltachta where applicable Garda Síochána, and School Inspectorate.
Voluntary Youth Council
There is to be a Voluntary Youth Council elected to advise the ETB in the preparation and implementation of matters specified in the Development Plan prepared by the ETB. The Voluntary Youth Council is to be a forum for the voluntary youth work organizations operating in the area to discuss the provision of youth work programs and services and shall nominate persons for appointment to a youth work committee. The Voluntary Youth Council shall have between 10 and 20 members as the ETB determines.
Certain persons are eligible for election to Voluntary Youth Councils. The ETB may organize an election to a Voluntary Youth Council. It shall determine voting procedures, classification and nomination of candidates, qualification of electors, youth organizations that may nominate persons, declaration of the poll, etc.
A Voluntary Youth Council shall appoint one or more of its members to act as chairperson of the Council. It shall regulate its own procedure and business. It shall meet at least once annually but not more than four times a year without the consent of the Minister. A member of a Youth Council does not receive remuneration but may receive traveling and subsistence expenses.
The Minister may prescribe organizations representing voluntary youth work organizations to be the Prescribed National Representative Youth Work Organization for the purposes of nominating members of the National Youth Work Advisory Committee above. The National Youth Council of Ireland is prescribed as the first Prescribed National Representative Youth Work Organization for three years after the commencement of legislation.
The Minister may authorize organizations for the purpose of the Act. The Minister may approve voluntary youth work organizations that provide youth work programs or services in two or more ETBs as an approved national voluntary youth work organization under the Act. There is provision for review or refusal of approval of a national youth work organization. There is a procedure for the withdrawal of status.
The Minister may direct an ETB to prepare and submit a Youth Work Budget for the purpose of its functions under the Act. It shall specify for the relevant financial year the programs, youth work programs, and services in respect of which it proposes to provide financial assistance, provide an estimate of expenditure and income. It shall consult the youth work committee for its area. An ETB shall supervise the implementation of the Youth Work Budget.
The Minister may make grants out of public moneys for the purposes of any of the following: ETB approved national voluntary youth work organization, designated local voluntary youth work organization, or authorized organization. The payment shall be subject to such conditions as are specified. Organizations receiving moneys must keep proper records of accounts and submit them annually to the Minister.
There is provision for the withdrawal or reduction of accounts where conditions are not complied with.
The Minister may from time to time issue directions in relation to the provision, monitoring, and evaluation of the youth work programs or services, and the directions must be complied with.
The Minister is to publish annually a list of approved national voluntary youth work organizations, authorized organizations, designated local voluntary youth work organizations, and the ETB committee to which they are designated and the Prescribed National Representative Youth Organization. The list must be made available to the public.