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Child and Youth Services in Germany

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Tasks and fields of work > Socio-educational support services

Types of socio-educational support services

Socio-educational support can be provided

  • as non-residential or semi-residential support,
    • predominantly to parents/families (advice on child-rearing, socio-educational family support), or
    • predominantly to young people (social group work, family support workers, day groups),
  • as residential support (alternative accommodation),
    • with another family (fostering),
    • in a home or other form of assisted living,
  • in a flexible manner,
    • incorporating both non-residential and residential forms of support.

It is possible to combine a number of different forms of support.


Article 27 of Book 8 of the Social Code (SGB VIII) stipulates that in the absence of care that is conducive to the child’s welfare, there is a legal entitlement (on the part of the parents) to the provision of necessary and suitable support by child and youth services. The youth welfare office is required to ensure that this support is offered where necessary. Articles 28 to 35 reference a wide variety of types of assistance that have to be available as standard. Over and above this, the youth welfare office is called upon to produce, where possible together with the recipients in question, other creative ideas (Article 27 [2]). Specifically, para. 2 reads “socio-educational support is provided primarily in accordance with Articles 28-35...”. The use of “primarily” indicates the option to fall back on other, specially developed forms of support that may be more suitable for meeting the identified needs. Data on these services under Article 27 (2) is now also collected for federal statistical purposes and categorised according to non-residential and residential settings (see Quantitative breakdown of socio-educational support services).

The following types of socio-educational support exist:

Non-residential and semi-residential socio-educational support (see Non- and semi-residential socio-educational support) is provided to children and adolescents who can keep living in the family home. The support provided in these cases is two-fold. Some services (e.g., advice on child-rearing, socio-educational family support) aim to advise and support parents as they regain an ability to raise their children. Others (e.g., social group work, family support services) are aimed more at the children and adolescents, helping them to resolve conflicts with their parents or overcome problems at school or in their social environment. In the case of older adolescents, non-residential services are typically aimed at helping them loosen ties to their family and gain independence.

Residential socio-educational support refers to the practice of housing children and adolescents outside the family home. The aim is to offer temporary or permanent alternative accommodation to those who are unable to live with their parents. There are many types of accommodation that come into play here; for instance, children may move in with another family full-time (see Full-time family care), or they may be placed in institutional accommodation such as a children’s home or another form of assisted living (see Residential care and other forms of assisted living).

In the context of Article 27 (2) (see above), a large number of other services that are not specifically mentioned in the law have become commonplace; they are typically referred to as “flexible support”. They are located somewhere along the standard spectrum detailed above and are the result of efforts to find as suitable a form of support as possible for children and adolescents (and their parents) depending on the situation at hand. In practice, this may lead to problems with overlap or blurred lines between the types of services.

As socio-educational support services must be provided and designed in line with identified needs, it is possible to combine a number of different forms of support (Article [2] sentence 2).

Further reading
  • Düring, Diana et al. (Hrsg.) (2016): Kritisches Glossar – Hilfen zur Erziehung, Frankfurt/M.
  • Moch, Matthias (2018): Hilfen zur Erziehung. In: Otto, Hans-Uwe/Thiersch, Hans/Treptow, Rainer/Ziegler, Holger (eds.): Handbuch Soziale Arbeit. 6th edition, Munich, p. 632−645.
  • Richter, Martina (2018): Handlungsfeld Hilfen zur Erziehung. In: Böllert, Karin (ed.): Kompendium Kinder- und Jugendhilfe. Wiesbaden, p. 825−840.
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