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Child and Youth Services in Germany

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The dual structure of the youth welfare office

Youth welfare office 
Youth welfare committee Administration

The youth welfare committee deals with all matters of child and youth services and, in particular, with:

  • counselling of young people and families with problems
  • proposals for further development child and youth service planning
  • funding and support for non-statutory youth service providers.

Ongoing administrative functions performed in accordance with the statutes of and the resolutions adopted by the local or municipal political representation and the youth welfare committee.

Composition of the youth welfare committee:

of the members are representatives of youth organisations, welfare organisations, religious communities, associations.

of the members are representatives of the local council.


In order to fulfil the tasks in Book 8 of the Social Code (SGB VIII), the local public-sector providers of child and youth services (i.e., the counties, towns that are administrative districts in their own right, some large towns within administrative districts) establish a youth welfare office. There are 559 youth welfare offices across Germany (108 in towns that are administrative districts in their own right, 290 in the counties and 161 in towns within administrative districts).

Regardless of whether they operate on a local or – in the case of the federal state (Land) youth welfare offices – regional level, every youth welfare office has a dual structure comprising the youth welfare committee on the one hand and an administrative office, including the social services providers, on the other. The social services providers and the administrative office handle the day-to-day steering and delivery of local child and youth services in tandem with the non-statutory providers. Part of their role is to involve young people and families in activities by providing participative opportunities. The youth welfare committee serves as the central local-level decision-making body on matters pertaining to the further development of child and youth services and hence formalises the structure of cooperation – along with responsibility for planning – between non-statutory and public-sector providers.

In other words, both non-statutory and public-sector providers work together under the aegis of the youth welfare office and youth welfare committee. This system of prioritising collaboration between the various stakeholders is a mark of quality in Germany's child and youth services structure.

Three-fifths of each youth welfare committee are made up of local parliament representatives with voting rights and the other two-fifths are representatives of non-statutory child and youth services, also with voting rights. Above and beyond this, the committees consult with representatives from the church, schools, health authorities, courts and others besides. Article 71 (2) of Book 8 requires the youth welfare committee to include consultative members from member-led organisations, consisting of self-advocacy groups within facilities and institutions and from civic life, as well as the various forms of self-help organisations. Implementing acts to Book 8 in the federal states regulate the specifics of the youth welfare committees' work and composition.

The youth welfare committees form sub-committees – each with a focus on different fields of work or specific challenges – and working groups based on the legal mandate in Article 78 to support cooperation between the public-sector and non-statutory providers of child and youth services and youth services planning. For instance, there are sub-committees or working groups on youth services planning, advocacy for children/adolescents, youth support services, youth social work, socio-educational support, or family services, to name just a few.

Further reading
  • Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft der Landesjugendämter (BAGLJÄ) (2020): Der Jugendamtsmonitor – Aufgaben, Trends und Daten (last accessed: 21 July 2023).
  • Gries, Jürgen; Ringler, Dominik (2005): Jugendamt und Jugendhilfe in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland. 2nd edition, Hohengehren.
  • Merchel, Joachim; Reismann, Hendrik (2004): Der Jugendhilfeausschuss. Weinheim and Munich.
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