The Children and Young People’s Strategy Team is part of the Children’s and Young People’s Services Directorate, Department of Education (DE). This Team was previously part of OFMdFM but moved to DE in May 2016 as part of the restructuring arrangements agreed under the Fresh Start Agreement.

The Children and Young People’s Strategy Team

The Children and Young People’s Strategy Team, work in cooperation with Executive departments, agencies, (i.e. children's authorities) stakeholders and children and young people in Northern Ireland and are responsible for:

  • Developing an overarching NI Executive Children & Young Peoples Strategy that aims to improve the well-being of children and young people across 8 distinct high level strategic outcomes.
  • In conjunction with children's authorities and children's providers developing the Play & Leisure Programme.
  • Monitoring and Reporting on adherence to the Children & Young People’s Co-operation Act (NI) 2015.
  • Monitoring and reporting on adherence to the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

New Children and Young People’s Strategy - 2018-2028

On behalf of the Northern Ireland Executive, the Department of Education has lead responsibility for developing the new Strategy which aims to build on the achievements of the current ten year strategy - ‘Our Children and Young People – Our Pledge’ that expired in 2016.

The Aim of the new Strategy is “To work together to improve the well-being of all children and young people in Northern Ireland - delivering positive long lasting outcomes”

The draft Strategy has been developed in the context of the Children’s Services Co-operation Act (NI) 2015 which places a duty on the Executive to adopt a strategy to improve the well-being of children and young people.  The Act defines the well-being of children and young people against eight characteristics including: physical and mental health; living in safety and with stability; learning and achievement; economic and environmental well-being; the enjoyment of play and leisure; living in a society in which equality of opportunity and good relations are promoted; the making by children and young people of a positive contribution to society; and living in a society which respects their rights.

The draft Strategy seeks to achieve positive outcomes for children and young people that align with all eight characteristics in the Act.

Consultation on the draft Children and Young People’s Strategy

In line with the Programme for Government Commitment, the Minister for Education launched the draft Executive’s Children and Young People’s Strategy 2017-2027 for public consultation on 19 December 2016. The consultation closed on 31 March 2017.

You can view the draft Strategy consultation document and associated documents via links below:

Analysis of Public Consultation responses

The Children and Young People’s Strategy Team (CYPST) has completed its analysis of responses to the public consultation on the draft Children and Young People’s Strategy.  The draft Strategy was launched for public consultation in December 2016 and concluded on 31 March 2017. Over 500 stakeholders, including parents / guardians and children and young people participated in the various events held by DE, Parenting NI and the Participation Network.

The Project Team, with analytical support provided by NISRA colleagues and the Centre Effective Services (CES) and supported by the Assembly Research and Information Service (RaISe), have now completed the analysis of all responses to the consultation exercise.

As with the co-design process, there was positive engagement in the consultation process from every sector with responses demonstrating broad levels of support for the outcomes based approach and the focus on societal outcomes and conditions of well-being.

The report aims to provide a factual overview of responses received to each question posed during the consultation; an overview of the additional comments raised; and a summary of the key recurring themes that need to be addressed. 

Following on from the consultation exercise, work is underway to prepare the final Strategy document. 

If you require further information on the analysis, please contact cyps@education-ni.gov.uk and we will be happy to assist.

You can view the Analysis Report to the public consultation document and associated documents via links below:

CYP Strategy – Analysis Report of consultation responses – March 2018

An ‘easy read’ version of the Children and Young People’s Consultation Response Report has been produced and is available via the link below:

Children and Young People’s Strategy Logo  

We would like to thank the young people from the Youth Council who met with us in Banbridge Resource Centre and Brownlow Resource Centre, and the NICCY Youth Panel, for their constructive criticism about our original designs and their excellent suggestions about how they might be improved. Here is what our new logo looks like.

Development of Management Structures 

The Project Team and the Project Board have been looking at the sort of structures we will need to ensure that the Strategy is delivered and that stakeholders will continue to have a say in issues affecting children and young people.  Many respondents to the consultation gave us their views on proposed new structures that would be established and how existing structures should be utilised to oversee the delivery of the Strategy and ensure ongoing engagement.  We will tell you more about this in future updates. 

What will happen next?

In the coming months, the Children and Young People’s Strategy Team will be focusing on the following key areas:

  • Development of the Strategy management structures, including ongoing participation with children and young people, parents, stakeholders and academia.
  • Drafting the final strategy (in response to the public consultation) for Executive agreement and laying in the Assembly when convened;
  • Development of, and consultation on, the Children and Young People’s Implementation/Delivery Plan
  • Development of monitoring and reporting mechanisms; and
  • Further work on the Data Development Agenda. 

If you would like to find out more about the development of the Executive Strategy for Children and Young People, please contact the Children and Young People’s Strategy Team:

Address:       

Children and Young People’s Strategy Team
Room 6.14
Department of Education
Rathgael House
Bangor
Co. Down
BT19 7PR

Telephone:    (028) 91858026
Email:             cyps@education-ni.gov.uk

#cypni2017              #ourplanforyou

Children & Young People’s Co-operation Act (NI) 2015

The Children’s Service Co-operation Act (the Act) received Royal Assent in December 2015.  The aim of the Act is to improve co-operation amongst Departments and Agencies and places a duty on Children’s Authorities, as defined by the Act, to co-operate where appropriate as they deliver services aimed at improving the well-being of children and young people. 

The Act requires the Executive to develop and adopt a strategy which sets the strategic direction with a view to achieving improvements in the well-being of children and young people in NI. 

The Act is structured as follows;

  • Well-being of children and young persons – a “purpose clause” used to define what is meant by well-being and what is intended by the Act.
  • Co-operation to improve well-being – a duty on the NI Executive to make arrangements for co-operation to improve well-being. 
  • Children and young persons strategy – a duty on the NI Executive to bring forward a strategy to outline the priority outcomes for children’s well being.
  • Sharing of resources and pooling of funds – an enabling power to allow Departments and Agencies to pool resources (should they choose) to deliver children’s services.
  • Report on the operation of this Act – a duty on the NI Executive to report on the delivery of the strategy and how the lives of children and young people have improved. 
  • Programme for Government – a requirement that the Programme for Government (PfG) consider issues raised in the report on the operation of this Act. 
  • Guidance – a clause which details that the Executive Office may bring forward guidance on the implementation of this Act.
  • Regulations relating to clause 4 – a clause which gives the Department of Finance the power to introduce regulations which would outline how Departments should act in the pooling of budgets. 

The Children’s Services Co-Operation Act (Northern Ireland) 2015 can be accessed using the link below:

Interim Guidance on the Children’s Services Co-operation Act (Northern Ireland) 2015 has been issued to children’s authorities and can be accessed using the link below:

Our Children and Young People – Our pledge Ten year strategy for children and young people in Northern Ireland 2006-2016


The Ten year strategy for children and young people expired in 2016, you can access the document at the link below:

Play and leisure Policy 

The right to play and leisure is an intrinsic entitlement of childhood (Article 31, UNCRC). Play is a natural and universal drive in childhood. It is an essential element and contributory factor to supporting children’s physical and emotional well-being, growth, learning and development. Play can support children’s creativity and cultural awareness. Play can be structured, non-structured, formal and non–formal. Through play children explore the world around them and learn to take responsibility for their own choices.

In January 2009, the Executive agreed and published the Play and Leisure Policy Statement that set out how children and young people’s right to rest, play and join in a wide range of cultural, artistic and leisure activities could be promoted.  This was supported by the Play and Leisure Implementation Plan.  In May 2016, the play and leisure policy remit transferred from the former OFMDFM to the Department of Education. 

The new Children and Young People’s Strategy recognises that the enjoyment of play and leisure is a key outcome that the Executive wish to deliver in order to improve the well-being of our children and young people.  There is an evidence base which shows that participation in play, leisure, arts and cultural activities makes a positive contribution to the mental, emotional, social and physical well-being of children and young people. 

As the Children and Young People’s Strategy is implemented, further consideration will be required as to how new play and leisure opportunities could be promoted.   Providing all children, including those with a disability and those living in marginalised, vulnerable or disadvantaged situations, with safe, accessible, inclusive spaces for play and socialisation has many benefits in terms of physical and mental health, education, skills development and the increasing of social confidence as well as contributing to wider community cohesion. 

Play and leisure implementation plan

The play and leisure implementation plan aims to see a high value placed on play and improved play and leisure facilities for all children and young people in order to support their development, enjoyment and growth. The plan was published in 2011.

Play Matters

Funded through the Early Intervention Transformation Programme (EITP) the Children and Young People’s Strategy Team in the Department of Education are excited to be progressing a Play and Leisure Project aptly titled ‘Play Matters!’

The Play and Leisure project aims to ensure that policy makers, practitioners and parents understand that play is a vital part of childhood and is necessary for children and young people’s overall healthy development.  The key beneficiaries of the project will include children and young people, parents, families and wider communities.

One of the best ways for children to stay both physically and mentally healthy is through access to a variety of unstructured play opportunities.  The Play & Leisure project being taken forward promotes the concept of play which is freely chosen and self-directed by children and which has no particular goal.  This is a really exciting initiative and a fabulous opportunity to highlight how important play is amongst parents, professionals and policymakers.

Play Matters to everyone and through the project we plan to work with a range of key stakeholders to deliver a robust programme of activity including play specific training, play modelling and play advocacy and messaging.  Key play messages, targeted at parents and professionals alike will be promoted throughout the project encouraging individuals to consider just how important play is for children and young people.

If you would like more information on the project contact Angela Stallard at angela.stallard@education-ni.gov.uk

Commissioner for Children and Young People

The Commissioner for Children and Young People (NICCY) is appointed by the First Minister and the deputy First Minister and has a role in promoting and safeguarding the interests and rights of children and young people, advancing equality, challenging discrimination and empowering and enabling their voice. The Commissioner reports to the Assembly and Parliament.

Koulla Yiasouma is the Commissioner for Children and Young People for Northern Ireland.

You can find out more about the work of the Commissioner and how to contact her, via the link below:

United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is an international human rights treaty that recognises and protects the human rights of children. It was unanimously adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1989 and is the most widely ratified international human rights instrument. The Convention is separated into 54 articles; most give social,economic, cultural or civil and political rights to children and young people, whilst others set out how Governments must publicise or implement the Convention.

The UNCRC requires all state parties to report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child their progress against the convention. The convention can be viewed below:

The Committee for the Rights of the Child is a UN body of 18 independent experts on child rights from around the world. The Committee monitors implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child by its States parties. All countries are required to report every five years to the Committee on their work in the area of children’s rights. During the reporting cycle the Committee will hold constructive dialogue with each State so that it can make an accurate assessment of the child rights situation in that country. The reporting cycle ends with the Committee issuing a set of Concluding Observations. The Concluding Observations point out progress achieved, main areas of concern and recommendations to the State on how to fulfill its obligations and advance child rights.
The UN Committee considered the fifth periodic report of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in May 2016. The Committee published its final set of Concluding Observation in July 2016.

The UK as State party has been invited by the Committee to submit its combined sixth and seventh periodic reports by 14 January 2022 and to include therein information on the follow-up to the present concluding observations.

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