Information relating to family policy matters in Northern Ireland


Parents can choose from a range of options for the care of their children.  Information about each of these options is available on nidirect

If you are interested in becoming a registered provider of childcare you may find the following guidance document helpful:

Registered providers of child care must also comply with standards which are specified by the Department. 

Health and Social Care (HSC) Trusts are responsible for registering and inspecting these services against the requirements in the Children (NI) Order 1995.

Volume Two of the guidance and regulations is available to download.

Further information regarding registration can be obtained from the Early Years Team in your local HSC Trust.”

Families Matter

Families Matter (DHSSPS, 2009) is the Department of Health’s existing family and parenting strategy.  It was published in 2009, and has been instrumental in developing early intervention approaches to help families address the challenges they face on a daily basis.

Arising from Families Matter, the Department led on the introduction or development of a number of key support mechanisms for parents and families, such as the Parenting Helpline, child contact centres and support for young carers, as well as the Family Support NI (FSNI) website.

The FSNI website is an online directory of useful information for parents, families, young people and people who work to support them.  As well as listing all registered childcare providers in Northern Ireland, the directory contains details of a wide range of family support services throughout Northern Ireland, such as:

  • family support hubs;
  • child contact centres;
  • mental health services;
  • disability support;
  • domestic/sexual abuse;
  • caring responsibilities;
  • finance; and
  • housing.

Parents can easily search the directory using the name of an organisation, or you can find information about services to help with specific challenges. 

New Family and Parenting Support Strategy

The Department of Health is currently leading on the development of a new, cross-departmental, Family and Parenting Support Strategy.  This will build on the strengths of Families Matter, particularly the strong focus on early intervention which it helped to imbed across the sector. 

The new Strategy will also reflect the achievements of the Family Support Hub network and the Early Intervention Transformation Programme in helping families through the use of a multi-agency approach.

At this stage, it is planned that the new Strategy will be subject to public consultation late in 2018.

Family and Parent Support Strategy – Privacy Notice

It is crucial that we engage families and parents in the development of the new Strategy.  As such, the Department has arranged to receive feedback from parents in late 2018.  In line with our requirements under data protection legislation, a Privacy Notice for the exercise has been prepared which explains how and why the information will be processed.

Family Mediation

This resource is for separated families in Northern Ireland. It was launched in 2007 and reviewed in 2018. A link to the document can be found below:

Top tips for parents

Top Tips for Parents – Your Guide to Positive Parenting’, was produced by the Inter Disciplinary Group on Positive Parenting to provide parents and other care givers with helpful advice on managing their child’s behaviour.  It is available in a number of different languages.

Departmental Core Funding 2018/19

The Department of Health manages a Core Funding Scheme to the Voluntary Community Sector.

Departmental Core Funding 2018/19 Privacy Notice

Being transparent and providing accessible information to individuals about how we may use personal data is a key element of the Data Protection Act (DPA) and the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The Department of Health (DoH) is committed to building trust and confidence in our ability to process your personal information.



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