'Child and youth work' refers to a very broad and diverse spectrum of offers and measures in the field of social action. It includes youth education and training measures that are provided outside the formal school education system or the services provided by the public child and youth welfare services. Thus, the term 'extracurricular / out-of-school youth work' has been coined. Child and youth work is a voluntary offer in children and young people's free time, where they are not be obliged to participate.
In Austria, out-of-school youth work has a strong emphasis on activities in leisure time and is thereby oriented towards informal and non-formal learning of young people. It sets qualified and planned leisure and socio-pedagogical offers and activities. The primary aim of youth work is to promote the potentials and strengths of young people.
The structures and offers of youth work are as diverse as young people themselves. They range from institutional youth work, and open and associative youth work to youth information, international youth work and initiatives. Within the youth work structures, there is hardly a field of action and topic that is not covered.
On the one hand, youth work implements the contents and objectives of youth policy frameworks. On the other hand, it is a seismograph and translator for the needs, concerns, wishes and demands of young people and thus influences future youth policy strategies. Its aim is to contribute to the personal development of young people. To this end, it should be linked to the interests of the adolescents and be co-determined and co-designed by them. In this way, young people are empowered to self-determination and encouraged to share responsibility in society and social commitment.
These takes on Youth Work in Austria are taken by the Directorate General Family and Youth at the Federal Chancellery and on the Website 'Jugendarbeit in Österreich', which the National Network of Youth Information Centres runs on its behalf.