skip to content
skip to footer
Information System

Child and Youth Services in Germany

Bookmark Remove

Structures > Financing

Financing of facilities and services

Financing can be provided for facilities and services of child and youth services based on the following (Book 8 of the Social Code):

  • funding (Article 74),
  • cost-based financing under the triangular relationship under youth welfare law (Article 78 a et seq. and, where applicable, Article 77),
  • bilateral financing arrangements between public-sector and non-statutory providers (Article 77 and Article 36a),
  • special provisions on financing for child day-care facilities (Article 74a).
Zehn-Euro-Schein und verschiedene Euro- und Eurocent-Münzen / Ten-euro note and various euro and eurocent coins


In the 30 years since the introduction of the 1989 Child and Youth Services Act (Kinder- und Jugendhilfegesetz), corresponding to Book 8 of the Social Code (SGB VIII), its provisions on financing for the facilities and services of child and youth services have been amended extensively. However, there remains a basic distinction between

  • the financing of infrastructure through funding for non-statutory youth services (Article 74) and
  • cost-based financing of facilities and non-residential activities of child and youth services (Article 78a et seq. and Article 77).


Throughout the history of child and youth services, financing for facilities and services run by non-statutory providers traditionally came mainly via government funding or grants. The public-sector providers are free to decide at their discretion on the type and amount of funding within the scope of available budget. One condition of funding is that the recipient furnishes a reasonable own contribution, to be calculated in due consideration of its financial standing and other circumstances (Article 74). For example, child day-care facilities operated by parent initiatives must contribute a smaller proportion of funds than facilities operated by church organisations, which have access to church taxes and other resources.

Cost-based financing

The relevance of cost-based financing came into its own with the expansion of the subjective legal claims granted to service recipients for support from child and youth services, in particular in the area of socio-educational support and child day-care facilities and nurseries. This was initially on the basis of Article 77 (agreements on costs). Cost-based financing is used to finance the services provided by facilities and services that are actually taken up by beneficiaries.

Triangular relationship under youth welfare law

Since 1999, Articles 78a to 78g have provided nuanced financing rules on (semi-) residential services, charges and quality development. Facilities that have signed agreements with their local youth welfare office are entitled to reclaim the fees incurred as a result of the uptake of services by beneficiaries. This constitutes the triangular relationship under youth welfare law (see Triangular relationship between individual legal claims under social law)

In 2021 the rules in Article 77 were narrowed in scope and now relate only to agreements on cost reimbursement and quality development for non-residential services. For non-residential services, the public-sector and non-statutory providers of child and youth services can also enter into a bilateral contractual relationship on the basis of agreements pursuant to Article 77/Article 36a. To ensure the lowest possible barriers to access to support, some non-residential services can be claimed directly by recipients without the need for the youth welfare office's involvement (for instance, child guidance offices, counselling for biological parents and foster parents).

Devolution of power to the federal states

Legal claims to funding for children in child day-care facilities and nurseries Germany-wide have been expanded significantly in recent years. Whilst it would have been expedient at the time to make the switch from funding-based financing to cost-based financing, a slew of federal states with under-developed day care systems was strongly opposed to this move. This led in 2005 to the devolution of power to the federal states in Article 74a: financing for child day-care facilities is regulated in federal state law.

Low-threshold of non-residential support

For the low-threshold, direct uptake of non-residential support, in particular parental counselling, Article 36a contains a special provision requiring the public-sector provider of child and youth services to conclude agreements with the service providers regulating the pre-conditions for and nature of the service(s) to be rendered and the recovery of costs.

Further reading
  • Meysen, Thomas et al. (2014): Recht der Finanzierung von Leistungen der Kinder- und Jugendhilfe. Baden-Baden.
  • Struck, Norbert (2016): Finanzierung. In: Schröer, Wolfgang/Struck, Norbert/Wolff, Mechthild (eds.): Handbuch Kinder- und Jugendhilfe. Weinheim/Munich, p. 1140–1150.
Bookmark List