Home > Prevention interventions targeting at-risk youth: Targeted Youth Funding Scheme.

Dillon, Lucy (2018) Prevention interventions targeting at-risk youth: Targeted Youth Funding Scheme. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 67, Autumn 2018, 23 p..

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Based on the recommendations of a value-for-money and policy review,1 the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) is developing a single ‘fit-for-purpose youth scheme’.


Value-for-money review

In 2014, the DCYA published a value-for-money and policy review of three youth programmes targeting youth at risk: the Special Projects for Youth (SPY); the Young People’s Facilities and Services Fund (YPFSF); and the Local Drugs Task Force (LDTF) projects.1 While the three programmes have different origins, they share similar objectives and target similar groups of young people. The programmes generally target 10–21-year-olds in areas characterised by problem drug use, educational disadvantage, criminal activity, unemployment, and homelessness. Preventing the onset of or reducing drug-taking is a common focus of the three programmes. The review highlighted the ongoing social and economic challenges being faced by young people in Ireland and concluded that ‘there remains a valid rationale for the provision of youth programmes for young people who are disadvantaged’ (p. 67).1 However, the review was heavily critical of the governance structures underpinning the three programmes and the lack of conclusive evidence relating to their efficacy, that is, a lack of effective performance measurement. However, it also argued that ‘there is promising academic support that, effectively harnessed, these programmes can make a difference’ (p. 10).1 It therefore called for ‘significant reform’ (p. 10)1 of the programmes and of their performance governance arrangements and, to this end, made a set of 12 recommendations.


Single scheme

Since the review, work has been ongoing at the DCYA to implement its recommendations. In the meantime, the programmes have continued to be funded: in 2012, the combined spend on the three programmes was €39.7m and by 2017 this had reduced to €36.8m. To deliver on the recommendations, the DCYA has undertaken an extensive programme of work including reviewing evidence and stakeholder engagement. This is informing the development of a single funding scheme that aims to ‘replace the existing funding programmes with a single fit-for-purpose youth scheme, targeting disadvantaged young people with evidence informed interventions and services that will secure good outcomes’ (p. 4).2 For the purpose of the design and development phase of the process, the new scheme is referred to as the Targeted Youth Funding Scheme (TYFS).


The purpose of the TYFS is ‘to support young people to overcome adverse circumstances by strengthening their personal and social competencies’ (p. 6).2 Therefore, it is based on a belief that building on these so-called ‘soft’ outcomes will impact positively on outcomes such as employability, developing career aspirations, and decreasing violent behaviour and drug use. The programme will therefore primarily focus on intervening at the level of the individual young person. The TYFS has identified seven personal and social development competencies as core to the programme: communication skills; confidence and agency; planning and problem-solving; relationships; resilience and determination; self-discipline; and, emotional intelligence.


Within the three target groups identified for the programme are those young people experiencing economic and social and cultural disadvantage, including those living in communities with high concentrations of addiction, as well as those who are ‘vulnerable or at risk’, including those considered so because of substance use. Stakeholder engagement is ongoing in the restructuring of these programmes and it is expected that the first cycle of the new structure will begin in January 2020. 


1  Department of Children and Youth Affairs (2014) Value for money and policy review of youth programmes. Dublin: Government Publications. https://www.drugsandalcohol.ie/23242/

2  Department of Children and Youth Affairs (2018) Unpublished internal circular on ‘Stakeholder engagement: Targeted Youth Funding Scheme. Scheme outline April 2018’.

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