High Support Special Schools, Youth Encounter Projects (YEP) and Children Detention Schools

Who we are

High Support and Special Care Units provide residential care for children legally termed “out of control”.  This term refers to children who are at risk and in need of care and protection and who require the provision and delivery of an education service in a secure and therapeutic environment.  The age profile of these children is 12-17 years.

In 1995 as part of an agreement between the Department of Education and Science and Health and Children it was agreed that the Health Authorities would take responsibility for this category of child.   The Department of Education and Skills has responsibility to provide education services for these young people, and to ensure that it is adequate and meets their needs, and does so in the ‘High Support Special Schools’ which are an integral part of the High Support and Special Care Units.

High Support Careis for children with severe emotional and behavioural problems, whose presenting difficulties cannot be met in mainstream education.  The service provides additional support to these young people, with lower pupil teacher ratios and higher levels of therapeutic input. Children resident in these units are also free to attend mainstream schools if this is considered appropriate.

Special Care Unitsare secure units that accommodate children who are the subject of special care orders or interim care orders granted by the court.  These orders allow the Health Board restrict the young people’s liberty for their own safety and welfare.  Such orders are only granted by the courts where there is a substantial risk to the child’s health, safety, development or welfare. 

Youth Encounter Projects (YEPs) provide non-residential educational facilities for children who have either become involved in minor delinquency, or are at risk of becoming involved. A pupil may be referred to one of these schools by a number of agencies or by the court system. Youth Encounter Projects provide these children with a lower pupil teacher ratio and a personalised education plan.

Children Detention Schools The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs is responsible for the three Children Detention Schools at Oberstown, Lusk, Co. Dublin which provide detention places to the Courts for girls up to the age of 18 years and boys up to the age of 17 years ordered to be remanded or committed on criminal charges. The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs is also responsible for the child care aspects of the Children Act 2001.

There are two education centres on the Oberstown campus catering for all the children being detained.  Responsibility for education provision comes under the remit of the Dublin and Dún Laoghaire Education and Training Board.

What we do

  • Planning and provision of education services for children in High Support Special Schools and Youth Encounter Projects.
  • Prepare and publish an education strategy in order to ensure a continuum of education and training opportunities for children in detention schools.


Address: Department of Education and Skills, High Support Special Schools, Cornamaddy, Athlone, Co. Westmeath. N37 X659
Phone: (090) 648 4152 / 4096

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