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Child and Youth Services in Germany

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Structural framework > Legislation

Social Code

The constitutional social state principle is fleshed out in the Books of the Social Code. Social Code Book 1 (General Part) and Social Code Book 10 (Social and Administrative Procedures and Protection of Social Data) apply to all relevant Books.

Relevant Books include:

  • Book 2 – basic income support (responsible: job centre),
  • Book 3 – promotion of employment (responsible: Federal Employment Agency),
  • Book 5 – statutory health insurance (responsible: statutory health insurance providers),
  • Book 8 – child and youth services (responsible: youth welfare office),
  • Book 9 – rehabilitation and participation of people with disabilities (responsible: providers of integration support),
  • Book 12 – social welfare (responsible: welfare offices).


The constitutional social state principle enshrined in the Basic Law (Article 20 [1] Grundgesetz/GG; see also 1.2.2) is fleshed out in the Social Code. Accordingly, Article 1 of Book 1 of the Social Code (SGB I), lays down general provisions that apply throughout all Books of the Social Code:

The law enshrined in the Social Code aims to realise social justice and social welfare by way of social benefits, including social and educational support services. Its goal is to help

  • safeguard human dignity,
  • create equal conditions for the free development of personality, in particular for young people,
  • protect and support the family,
  • enable people to earn a living via a job of their choice, and
  • avert or compensate for special life burdens, including by helping people to help themselves.

With a view to fulfilling these responsibilities, Articles 2 et seq. SGB I contain a selection of social rights which are tied to social benefit entitlements and upheld by the various providers of social benefits (e.g., the job centres, Federal Employment Agency, health insurance providers, youth welfare offices) in the form of services, benefits in kind, or cash benefits.

Rote Paragrafen in Büchern, die Gesetzbücher symbolisieren / Red paragraphs in books symbolising law book

The social security benefits paid out to all beneficiaries in the event of certain risks or events materialising form a major pillar of this system and are financed from the contributions of employers and/or policyholders:

  • Book 3 of the Social Code (SGB III) promotion of employment in the event of unemployment,
  • Book 5 of the Social Code (SGB V) sickness,
  • Book 11 of the Social Code (SGB XI) long-term care,
  • Book 7 of the Social Code (SGB VII) accident, and
  • Book 6 of the Social Code (SGB VI) retirement.

Other social benefits are largely financed from the public purse:

  • Book 2 of the Social Code (SGB II) basic income support (responsible: job centre)
  • Book 8 of the Social Code (SGB VIII) child and youth services (responsible: youth welfare office)
  • Book 9 of the Social Code (SGB IX) rehabilitation and participation of people with disabilities (responsible: providers of integration support)
  • Book 12 of the Social Code (SGB XII) social welfare (responsible: welfare office)
  • Book 14 of the Social Code (SGB XIV) social compensation (responsibility determined by the federal states)

A number of further laws are considered special parts of the Social Code and also contain relevant social benefits (Article 68 SGB I). These include but are not limited to:

  • the Federal Training Assistance Act (Bundesausbildungsförderungsgesetz/BAföG)
  • the Federal Child Benefit Act (Bundeskindergeldgesetz/BKGG)
  • the Housing Benefits Act (Wohngeldgesetz/WoGG)
  • the Adoption Placement Act (Adoptionsvermittlungsgesetz/AdVermiG)
  • Sections 1, 2 and 3 of the Parental Allowances and Parental Leave Act (Bundeselterngeld- und Elternzeitgesetz/BEEG)

All providers of social benefits are bound by the superordinate procedural requirements of SGB I and SGB X in their responsibility for realising social rights by way of social services. These include, for example, a general duty to provide advice on benefit entitlements (Article 14 SGB I) and the obligation incumbent upon social benefit providers to ensure that social benefits are delivered comprehensively, promptly and without unnecessary effort on the part of the beneficiary (Article 17 SGB I). All parties have the right to attend negotiations or meetings accompanied by an advisor (Article 13 [4] SGB X).

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