The strategy sets out a strategic framework for improving the well-being of children and young people in Northern Ireland. It outlines how all government departments, agencies and those who provide children’s services will work together to deliver better outcomes for all children and young people and links directly to the draft Programme for Government outcomes, primarily ‘we give our children and young people the best start in life’.
Derek Baker, Permanent Secretary of the Department of Education said: “The strategy lists eight outcomes we want to achieve for all children and young people. These cover almost all aspects of children’s lives including their physical and mental health, play and leisure, learning and achieving, safety and stability, economic and environmental well-being, contribution to society, rights and equality”.
“It stresses the importance of allowing children and young people opportunities to participate in society and to have their voice heard and their views respected, especially on issues which affect them.
“In addition, there is recognition of the contribution which children and young people make to society, through volunteering and youth work or as carers for family members, and the need to support them as they do this.”
Issues which children, young people and stakeholders have identified as requiring particular attention, and groups of children and young people in greatest need are also highlighted.
Continuing, Derek Baker said: “These groups will be the focus of departments’ efforts over the coming years.
“The issues identified include matters which are central to the lives and well-being of children and young people. They include early intervention, emotional well-being and mental health, inclusion of children and young people with a disability, tackling bullying; improving educational achievement and experience, improving support for rural young people and supporting the rights of all children, particularly those who experience discrimination based on their gender, race, sexual orientation or religious belief.
“Following on from the publication of this strategy, a delivery plan will be developed setting out the actions that departments will take to implement the strategy.”
The strategy will remain in place until a Northern Ireland Executive Children and Young People’s Strategy is published.
Notes to editors:
1. The Children’s Services Co-operation Act (Northern Ireland) 2015 requires the Northern Ireland Executive to adopt a strategy for improving the well-being of children and young people. A draft strategy was issued for public consultation in December 2016 but the failure to form an Executive following the 2017 elections meant that an Executive strategy could not be finalised. The cross departmental Children and Young People’s Strategy is intended to set out a framework for progressing children’s issues until an Executive is in place.
2. The eight outcomes in the strategy are:
- Children and young people are physically and mentally healthy
- Children and young people enjoy play and leisure
- Children and young people learn and achieve
- Children and young people live in safety and with stability
- Children and young people experience economic and environmental wellbeing
- Children and young people make a positive contribution to society
- Children and young people live in a society which respects their rights
- Children and young people live in a society in which equality of opportunity and good relations are promoted.
3. For further information on the Strategy: https://www.education-ni.gov.uk/articles/children-and-young-people
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