In the Decree of 6 December 2011 on the Promotion of Youth Work (Dekret vom 6. Dezember 2011 zur Förderung der Jugendarbeit) in the German-speaking Community, youth was for a long time defined as time span from 12 to 30 years of age. However, with the major amendment the Decree on the Promotion of Youth Work received, the time span defining youth is now, as of 1 January 2022, 10 to 30 years of age. Consequently, children are now defined as people from the ages of 4 to 9 years old.
Article 1 – Definitions
For the purpose of this decree the following definitions shall apply:
- Children: people from the ages of 4 to 19 years old;
- Young people: people from the ages of 10 to 30 years old;
- Children and young people: Both groups 1 and 2;
But since the target group of youth work is not restricted to this age bracket, also children use offers provided by youth work organisations. Therefore the – unofficial but broadly accepted – enlarged target group for youth policy in the German-speaking Community is from four years up to 30.
In other policy fields (employment, education, social affairs, youth welfare) addressing young people, different age definitions may apply:
- Employment: e.g. min. 16 years in order to get a subsidised working contract;
- Education: e.g. 12-35 years for study assistance;
- Social affairs: e.g. 18-24 years for integration support;
- Youth wellfare service or youth court service: 0-18 years.
Even inside these different policy fields, age definitions for youth vary a lot. This is mainly due to the fact that target groups are not defined by decree but are defined for individual policy measures.