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 on the legislation website at Children’s Services Co-operation Act (Northern Ireland) 2015
Guidance on the Children’s Services Co-operation Act (Northern Ireland) 2015 has been issued to children’s authorities and can be accessed on the Department of Education website at Guidance on the Children’s Services Co-operation Act (Northern Ireland) 2015