Press Release

Lenihan launches €600,000 Youth Advocacy Programme

The Minister for Children, Mr Brian Lenihan TD, has today (23 September 2002) launched the National Pilot of the Youth Advocacy Programme at the Northern Area Health Board Headquarters, Swords, Co. Dublin. The Youth Advocacy Programme is an innovative programme, developed in the United States, which has been designed to provide support to at-risk young people and their families.

“The Programme is about providing support and direction to young people within their homes and local communities in a way which acknowledges their strengths and offers unconditional care,” said the Minister.

The Minister said that he was particularly pleased to provide financial support to the Eastern Regional Health Authority for the National Youth Advocacy Pilot Programme in the Northern Area Health Board. “The direct annual cost of the National Pilot Programme is €600,000. It is envisaged that places will be available for 50 individual clients and their families in any one calendar year of the programme. There will be access for 25 clients and their families at any one time,” said the Minister.

The National Pilot in North Dublin will run for three years initially. It will be managed by the Northern Area Health Board in partnership with the Eastern Regional Health Authority, the Youth Advocacy Programme organisation and Extern, a charitable, not-for-profit organisation from Northern Ireland with the support of the Department of Health and Children.

Youth Advocacy is a non-residential programme which will provide direct in-home and neighbourhood based services to families with young people at risk of residential placement. The service has been tailored to meet the need of each individual child and family and incorporates a crisis intervention service.

The Programme “advocacy” model is based upon the development of a trust relationship between a supportive trained and skilled adult advocate whose role is to support and assist the young person and their family. Advocates are most often residents in the neighbourhoods in which they work. They will have a strong knowledge of local support services and networks and the cultural diversity within communities.

The service will aim to reduce the number of young people entering out-of-home placement, reduce the length of stay of young people in care and return children to the most appropriate family placement as quickly as possible by providing a range of intensive community based services.

“While the pilot programme in the Northern Area Health Board will concentrate on children with challenging behaviour, I am also looking at the application of the Youth Advocacy model in relation to offending children in the context of the community based-focus of the Children Act 2001” said the Minister.