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Child and Youth Services in Germany

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Structures > Institutions

The Federation, the Länder and the local authorities in child and youth services (a)

Federation:
Enacts legislation on Book 8 of the Social Code – Children and Youth; incentives and financial support for cross-state child and youth services; Federal Youth Board (Bundesjugendkuratorium); four-yearly Child and Youth Report of the Federal Government.

Länder (federal states):
Länder implementing acts to Social Code Book 8; financial support for state-wide child and youth services infrastructure; Child and Youth Plans of the Länder; the Länder assist the local youth providers of youth services by providing advice and further training.

Local authorities:
Towns that are administrative districts in their own right and counties (in some cases larger towns within administrative districts), as public-sector providers, establish a youth welfare office; overall responsibility for planning and the local fulfilment of tasks under Book 8; local youth services planned and structured in the context of local self-government.

Notes

The overarching goals of child and youth policy are set and coordinated at federal level (Article 83 of Book 8 of the Social Code [SGB VIII]) by the federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth. Federal laws on child and youth policy (Book 8) are enacted by the Bundestag (lower house of parliament), i.e., the legislative power. Funding for child and youth policy is provided mainly through the Child and Youth Plan of the Federal Government (cf. 3.3.3). On essential matters of child and youth services, the federal government is advised by the Federal Youth Board consisting of experts selected by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth on the government's behalf. In parallel, independent experts from the scientific community work together with practitioners to draw up child and youth reports, published each parliamentary term, on the situation of young people and the status of child and youth services.

Since not all aspects of child and youth services are regulated at federal level in Book 8 of the Social Code or are delegated under the federal structure, the federal states (Articles 83 and 85 of Book 8) have the corresponding powers to legislate in certain areas. This has led to separate laws in all 16 federal states covering everything from local matters of organisation and child day-care facilities, to child and youth work and many others besides.

Book 8 requires the federal states to establish a federal state (Land) youth welfare office comprising the state youth welfare committee and the administrative arm of the state youth welfare office (see The dual structure of the youth welfare office).

A core task of the federal state youth ministries (the supreme state-level youth authorities) is to encourage and support the public-sector and non-statutory providers of child and youth services and promote the further development of services. The federal states must work towards a balanced expansion of facilities and services and assist the local and state-level youth welfare offices with fulfilling their mandate.

The local authority looks after the practical aspects of realising infrastructure and services and fulfilling the sovereign tasks of child and youth services. As a public-sector provider, it has overall responsibility both for planning and for fulfilling the tasks of child and youth services, for which it sets up a youth welfare office (Articles 69, 70, 71 of Book 8 of the Social Code) to serve as the central authority in charge of bundling and coordinating tasks for child and youth services. The local authorities must ensure the youth welfare offices have access to adequate resources (Article 79).

Germany has 577 youth welfare offices (109 in towns that are administrative districts in their own right, 290 district offices, 159 in towns within administrative districts and 19 in the city states of Hamburg and Berlin).

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