Viability of Kerry Diocesan Youth Service in doubt

The future of the Kerry Diocesan Youth Service in the county is in question after being removed from its role in providing the Youthreach and mentor service by Kerry Education and Training Board.

KDYS says it was informed by Kerry ETB in March and July that the ETB would be taking over the services from January 1st next.

KDYS had been providing these services for the past 26 years.

Youthreach is a training and work experience programme for early school leavers aged 15 to 20 and is funded through Kerry ETB by the Department of Education and Skills.

The two programmes, the larger of which is Youthreach, represents 42% of the Kerry Diocesan Youth Service budget or 1.8 million euro annually.

There are 86 staff in KDYS, 36 of whom are involved in the delivery of the programmes in question.

An unspecified number of those staff are in the process of being transferred to Kerry ETB.

Negotiations with the Teachers’ Union of Ireland have been taking place in relation to the staff transfers.

The KDYS said it is deeply unhappy about this development and claims that Kerry ETB made a unilateral decision and did not involve it in any way in the process.

The KDYS has said it will have to drastically downsize and that the move has put its future viability into question and it will also have to reconsider the use of its centres.

The organisation says it was not given an opportunity to present its case to the board of Kerry ETB and says it’s now clear that the partnership between the community and voluntary sector as well as statutory agencies is no longer operating.

Kerry ETB has said the decision is in line with the national sectoral reform programme, which places ETBs at the heart of further education & training provision.

It added that it is committed to continuing a good working relationship with KDYS and an effective transition for all involved.