Consultation on a draft strategy for children
Children sitting together

Making it r world 2 Consultation on a Draft Strategy for Children and Young People in Northern Ireland Response from the Institute of Public Health in Ireland Introduction The Institute of Public Health welcomes the Consultation on a Draft Strategy for Children and Young People in Northern Ireland. 

We believe that in addition to the human rights to which we are all entitled, children and young people constitute, in many instances, a vulnerable group within society and therefore special effort is needed to ensure that they are able to maximise their potential and live healthy, fulfilling lives. In our response to the Consultation Document we will focus on how inequality impacts on children’s lives and how, as a consequence ways in which to combat inequalities need to be at the heart of a strategy for children. 

We will also highlight the potential for strengthening the strategy by increased cooperation with similar initiatives in the Republic of Ireland. In brief, we believe the following points need to be taken into account: Poverty is the biggest threat to children’s welfare and life chances. Reducing the number of children living in poverty should therefore form a central part of the strategy. Indicators should be developed to measure levels and outcome of child poverty, and we would recommend that these should be developed in close collaboration with the NCO in the Republic of Ireland who has considerable expertise in this field. 

There is a wide range of socio-economic determinants of the health, and this should be reflected in the actions identified to improve children’s health. Promoting healthy choice among children is not enough to ensure that they fulfil their health potential. It is inappropriate that the Consultation Document places a strong emphasis on the responsibilities of children in the context of their rights. The Strategic Objectives should be revisited to ensure that they are realistic and that they can achieve the desired strategic outcomes. 

Appropriate indicators that measure the quality and not merely the quantity of actions should be developed. For example, an indicator of meaningful involvement of children in policy making is surely the quality of and not simply the quantity of such involvement. 

To ensure that the strategy is delivered, each Government Department should be responsible and accountable for the implementation of the part of the strategy that relates to them and the actions identified should form part of the relevant departments’ core work plan. The fact that there in no core funding allocated from Government gives the impression that the strategy is not viewed by Government as a priority. We regret this and would urge the Government to make a clear financial commitment to the investment in our children that this strategy represents.

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