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Child and Youth Services in Germany

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Tasks and fields of work > Socio-educational support services

Support service planning

Support service planning involves assessing, defining and agreeing which types of socio-educational support are to be provided in accordance with Article 27 of Book 8 of the Social Code.

Support service planning is first and foremost a socio-educational process requiring negotiations and decisions between public-sector providers and recipients (guardians, children and/or adolescents), wherever possible with the involvement of independent providers. (See Triangular relationship between individual legal claims under social law)

Under Article 36, the planning process is required to incorporate the following elements:

  • involvement of parents, children and adolescents; potentially also guardians/custodians,
  • consultation between several experts,
  • drawing up of a support plan,
  • regular review of scope and underlying decisions.


Article 36 (2) of Book 8 of the Social Code (SGB VIII) sets out the obligation to draw up a plan for the services to be provided. This process involves assessing, defining and agreeing which types of support are to be claimed: e.g., socio-educational support services in line with Article 27 (see Legal basis of socio-educational support services); integration assistance in response to a (potential) psychological incapacity in line with Article 35 (a) (see Integration support - Legal basis, Integration support – Procedural requirements and Integration support for young people with a psychological disability); or support for young adults in line with Article 41 of Book 8 of the Social Code (see Support for young adults). However, the planning process may not be limited to an administrative act; it is first and foremost a socio-educational process of negotiation and decision-making between recipients and youth welfare offices requiring many decisions to be taken on which services to implement and by whom (public-sector and/or independent providers). The process is designed to enable children, adolescents, parents or young adults to address the identified problems with the necessary and suitable support. The planning process relates to those forms of support that are anticipated to be provided over a longer period of time.

The planning process begins with an initial consultation, followed by identifying the services required, drawing up a schedule, and concluding the support phase. The implementation methodology consists of three sub-processes:

  1. Identifying the needs to be met (socio-educational diagnosis),
  2. Drawing up and executing a plan (socio-educational intervention),
  3. Monitoring progress, making any adjustments, and concluding the process (evaluation).

This planning process is seen as key to developing the quality of service provision. Specifically, it helps to improve the effectiveness of the services provided as well as their quality. Empirical studies have found there to be a correlation between the planning process and the service provision phase, meaning that the quality of the plan determines whether the support provided is genuinely effective. Responsibility for the planning process lies with the youth welfare office’s general social services department (Allgemeiner Sozialer Dienst, ASD), which is called upon to employ this tool when dealing with individual cases.

According to Article 36, the planning process must incorporate the following elements:

  • comprehensive counselling and involvement of parents and/or guardians (possibly also parents without custody) as well as the young people in question in a manner that is appropriate and understandable (covering, e.g., potential consequences for the child’s or adolescent’s development),
  • consultation between several experts when deciding on suitable services,
  • drawing up of a support plan (including minutes of the meeting), which fulfils a number of functions: it ensures the involvement of the main stakeholders, documents the needs to be met, lists the type of support and services to be provided and why, describes possible solutions to the problems, and mentions possible next steps. The plan helps to monitor service provision and ensures,
  • continuity; i.e., regular reviews of the services provided are conducted, during which it is verified whether the desired aims have been achieved with the help of the individuals or institutions in question.

The 2021 Act to Strengthen Children and Youth (Kinder- und Jugendstärkungsgesetz/KJSG) has strengthened the role of support plans. Now, the plans also reference additional services to which young adults, young people with a disability, and parents and caregivers are entitled (Articles 36 b, 37 c (4) of Book 8 of the Social Code).

Under the new Act, the youth welfare offices, too, must always contribute to the process of planning integration support for children and adolescents with a physical and/or mental disability. Currently these services come under Book 9 of the Social Code (SGB IX) (cf. Article 10a [3] of Book 8; Article 117 [6] of Book 9). Until they are transferred to the child and youth services domain in 2028 (known as the “inclusive solution”), the new provision will ensure that their needs as well as those of their siblings and parents are not just examined from the disability angle but are also considered more broadly as part of the youth welfare office’s socio-educational and family assistance perspective to enable provision of the necessary services.

Further reading
  • Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft der Landesjugendämter/Internationale Gesellschaft für erzieherische Hilfen (IGfH) (2018): Rechte haben – Recht kriegen. Ein Ratgeberhandbuch für Jugendliche in Erziehungshilfen, 3rd edition, Weinheim and Basel (last accessed: 31 July 2023).
  • Hansbauer, Peter/Merchel, Joachim/Schone, Reinhold (2020): Kinder- und Jugendhilfe – Grundlagen, Handlungsfelder, professionelle Anforderungen, Stuttgart.
  • Merchel, Joachim/Hansbauer, Peter/Schone, Reinhold (2023): Verantwortung in der Sozialen Arbeit – Ethische Grundlagen professionellen Handelns, Stuttgart.
  • Merchel, Joachim (2019): Hilfeplanung. In: Merchel, Joachim (ed.): Handbuch Allgemeiner Sozialer Dienst (ASD). 3rd edition, Munich, p. 190−202.
  • Pluto, Liane (2018): Partizipation und Beteiligungsrechte. In: Böllert, Karin (ed.): Kompendium Kinder- und Jugendhilfe. Wiesbaden, p. 945−965.
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