Hanafin Launches Youth Homelessness Strategy
“The number of young people in Ireland who presented as homeless decreased by 25% in 2000. And, all the indications are that the numbers have been substantially reduced again this year,” said Minister for Children, Mary Hanafin T.D, today (Wednesday, October 31, 2001).
Minister Hanafin was speaking in Dublin at the launch of the Government´s Youth Homelessness Strategy, the aim of which is to achieve a more co-ordinated and planned approach to tackling the issue of youth homelessness.
The young people who were dealt with by the health boards include children who were out of home for an evening, a night or extended periods. On any night in city centre Dublin a core group of 20-25 young people have been identified and in a year 588 occurrences were recorded throughout the country.
“In the last 12 months, the Government has provided extra emergency and longer-term accommodation and specialist provision for young homeless people in Dublin, as well as expanded services in Cork and Limerick,” Minister Hanafin said.
“A director of Youth Homelessness has been appointed in the Eastern Regional Health Authority, outreach services have been expanded, multi-disciplinary teams have been recruited and there is now greater co-operation between the voluntary and statutory providers,” she added.
“This year, approximately £180 million is being spent on child welfare services, including early intervention, family support and foster care. While progress has been made in Dublin, Cork, Limerick and elsewhere in putting health board, voluntary and other services in place for young homeless people, much more needs to be done. This Youth Homelessness Strategy aims to build on progress to date, and to better plan and co-ordinate services for those young people who may find themselves homeless at any stage,” the Minister explained.
She added: “The Strategy places particular emphasis on prevention and on the importance of supporting schools, communities and the young people themselves and their families in this context. Youth homelessness is not just about putting a roof over a child´s head. Where a young person becomes homeless, the Strategy stresses the need for a prompt child-focused, high-quality service, which will address the individual needs of the young person.”
The primary goal of the Strategy is to reduce and, if possible eliminate youth homelessness through preventative strategies and where a child becomes homeless, to ensure that they benefit from a comprehensive range of services aimed at re-integrating them into their community as quickly as possible.
There are 12 key objectives in this Youth Homelessness Strategy, under three broad categories:
- Preventative measures;
- Responsive services;
- Planning & administrative supports.
The Strategy requires each health board, within three months of the publication of the strategy today, following consultation with relevant statutory and voluntary bodies, to develop a two-year strategic plan to address youth homelessness in line with specific actions.
The Strategy also requires that a range of other bodies in the public sector, including schools, the National Education Welfare Board, local authorities, the City and County Development Boards to either support the actions of health boards or take specific steps themselves.
At national level, given the cross-sectoral dimensions of youth homelessness, the National Children´s Office will have lead responsibility for driving and co-ordinating the actions necessary to ensure the successful implementation of the Strategy.
“Homelessness among children and young people is one of the most significant forms of social exclusion – our aim must be to eliminate it,” concluded Minister Mary Hanafin T.D.