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Child and Youth Services in Germany

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Tasks and fields of work > Support for young adults

Support for young adults

Article 41 (1) of Book 8 of the Social Code stipulates: Young adults shall receive suitable and necessary support whenever and wherever their personal development does not allow them to exercise independence, responsibility and autonomy.

  • Support is generally only provided until recipients turn 21 ► Care Leavers have called for this cap to be extended to 25.
  • Emphasis lies on the continuation of support already provided until this point, mainly care in homes, group accommodation and foster families.
  • Once support has ceased at age 21, young adults are entitled to follow-up support.
  • Even if support comes to an end, services may continue to be provided where required and upon application.

Once support ceases, young adults are entitled to counselling and support that is understandable, appropriate and accessible to them (follow-up support in accordance with Article 41a).


Article 41 (1) of Book 8 of the Social Code (SGB VIII) states that young adults shall receive suitable and necessary support in cases where their personal development does not allow them to exercise independence, responsibility and autonomy. Support is normally not available beyond the age of 21; in justified individual cases it may be extended for a defined period of time. Once service provision has ended, it may be re-approved or continued in accordance with sentences 1 and 2.

The understanding behind this form of support is that today, adolescence is not limited to a certain age or status; instead, it can extend far beyond an individual’s 18th birthday. This is why, legally speaking, support should not be discontinued abruptly just because the recipient has turned 18. The problems associated with a premature discontinuation of support have been clearly highlighted by the global Care Leavers Community: homelessness, vocational training dropout, psychosomatic reactions, and an inability to procure paperwork from parents, to name just a few. Care Leavers are calling to increase the age limit for support to 25; while this has the backing of many specialist organisations, the law has not yet been amended accordingly.

In 2021, support services were provided in 125,025 instances for young adults in Germany. The types of support available to young adults are generally aligned with the range of non-residential and residential socio-economic support services. However, when it comes to young adults, emphasis is given to (residential) care in homes, group accommodation and foster families, although non-residential support also plays a role. In contrast to minors (see Quantitative breakdown of socio-educational support services), the breakdown (in percent) of support provided in 2021 to young adults between the ages of 18 and 26 paints a different picture. Of the 125,025 young adults who claimed support, 34% were in residential care (pursuant to Article 27 in conjunction with Articles 33, 34 of Book 8 and including residential services provided under Article 27 [2]), which is far higher than the corresponding share amongst under-18s. In the context of non-residential services, family support workers/care support workers (17.3%) played a major role. Advice on child-rearing was used by just over a quarter (25.6%) of young adults who claimed a service.

Young adults are entitled to support for a reasonable period of time after receiving the assistance they need in becoming independent; this support has to be understandable and accessible to them (Article 41a [1] of Book 8 of the Social Code [SGB VIII]). Should the discontinuation of support be premature and have a negative impact, it can recommence (Article 41 [1]). This is why the youth welfare office should reach out to young adults at regular intervals after support has ceased (Article 41a [2]).

Once the youth welfare office has decided to consider discontinuing the support, one year ahead of the planned date as stated in the support plan the office should verify whether responsibility for the young recipient should pass to another provider (Article 41 [3]).

Until May 2021, young adults were asked to contribute to the cost of support; this contribution could amount to up to 75% of their income, plus any assets they may have had, but was then capped at 25% of their income. Book 8 has since been amended further and the requirement for young people to contribute towards the costs of care was abolished entirely effective 1 January 2023. As a result, it is now possible for young people in residential care to keep all of the income they earn, without having to pay contributions towards the costs of the respective care to the youth welfare office.

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