From 2028 child and youth services will be responsible for services for all children and adolescents with and without disability (known as the “inclusive solution”). The specifics are still unclear.
The 2021 Act to Strengthen Children and Youth (Kinder- und Jugendstärkungsgesetz) for the first time ever introduced an express obligation on providers to inclusively further develop child and youth services and, in so doing, gave the official green light for all support and task areas.
Despite a continued legal focus on disability-related barriers to participation, the principle of inclusion is also being discussed with regard to incorporating other social barriers to participation (e.g., poverty) (referred to as the broad understanding of the term inclusion).
The presence of a disability is often at the heart of social exclusion issues, and child and youth services is no exception – despite the fact that, in theory at least, its duty to provide education and care under Article 1 of Book 8 of the Social Code (SGB VIII) applies equally to all children and adolescents and their families (see also Child and youth services and inclusion).
Following decades of wrangling over (departmental) policy, in 2021 the legislature has now definitively decided to move towards inclusive child and youth services with the enactment of the Act to Strengthen Children and Youth (Kinder- und Jugendstärkungsgesetz/KJSG), which lays down a step-by-step plan for implementation:
Whilst inclusive services were already available before the KJSG, the Act marks the first-ever call for a binding and nationwide process of continual development in all areas of child and youth services support and work, incorporating concrete expert and conceptual reflections and adapting practice correspondingly. However, further basic knowledge must be acquired through research, with a particular focus on research involving young people and their families, and corresponding initial and further training must be developed and provided for youth work professionals.
Despite the current overriding focus on the barriers to participation faced by children and adolescents with disabilities, there is a keen awareness amongst practitioners and in (departmental) policy discussions of the need to expand the principle of inclusion and inclusive tasks to include other social barriers to participation (such as poverty, migration).