1. Youth Policy Governance
State policy towards Children and Youth in the Czech Republic is quite a traditional field or focus in the public sphere with many variations. Strong state centralisation and control came during World War II with the forced Nazi regime of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. Shortly after WWII and after a short time restoration of liberal-democratic foundations, the communist regime replaced them again with strong centralisation in the period from 1948 to 1989. The Communist party controlled formal education as well as leisure time activities of children and young people. However, during those periods, many alternative activities were also happening in the shadows, which also strengthened the spirit of liberty, decentralisation and a kind of privacy, at least by some groups in the society, including traditional children and youth organisations.
During the 1990s, youth field was marked by the transformation of a totalitarian state into a liberal one. It brought extensive processes of privatisation of state and Communists party structures and activities with various effects – liberation, free space for new initiatives, struggles to continue good traditions and activities, but also forgetting or terminating many of them because of social and economic changes.
Since the end of the 1990s, the Concept of the State policy towards Children and Youth started to be created regularly as a National Youth Strategy (more on them in Chapter 1.3). Both spheres of Children and Youth issues are considered traditionally as interlinked and mutually supportive; however, it brings more attention to children's issues rather than to Youth or young adults' issues. During the 1990s, an influence of the Council of Europe's youth policy was partially present and it continues to play an important role in the Youth Policy operation.
There is no single comprehensive Youth Act, although it was discussed several times in the 1986-2006 period. Some special Acts focused solely on Children and Youth issues are in place, especially in the fields of justice and social-legal protection of children. More on national Youth legislation in Chapter 1.2.
Since the start of the new millennium, a significant administrative transformation of the country was in place with new decentralisation of regions. Many state competencies, especially in the most relevant public policies targeting young people like education, social issues, housing, culture, public health etc., were given to regional self-governing units - the so-called 'kraj' (more on Youth-Policy decision making in Chapter 1.4).
The 1990s became to be called 'wild nineties' because of all the transformations and quick development in the context of a lower level of control and a strong spirit of 'absolute freedom' in contrast to the totalitarian experience in the previous decades.
Although the Czech Republic joined the EU in 2004, it followed the development of the EU Youth coordination since the release of the EU White Paper on Youth in 2001. Joining the EU and European cooperation also had a substantial impact on further formation and development of public policies targeting (not only) young people. The new political and administrative setting brought another wave of transformation of public policies. This was also due to the quite extensive use of EU Structural Funds for new public policy priorities, initiatives and programmes. More on Youth Policy Funding in Chapter 1.7. The developing European governance and the cross-sectoral nature of the EU Youth Policy brought a new environment and impetus to the Youth Policy as well as cross-border cooperation (see more in Chapter 1.8). More on the cross-sectoral approach in the Czech Republic in Chapter 1.5.
Youth policy coordination became less important in the light of other state-wide and societal priorities. One significant reason is that each sector traditionally has its own mechanisms targeting young people to some extent and its own experts in the field, who have a lower level of knowledge of the youth field and more limited capacities to follow new developments of the state youth policy (more on the evidence issue in Chapter 1.6).
However, it seems that there is a gradual development from the Youth Policy point of view, even if there are many mistakes and inconsistencies at all levels. The latest edition of the state Youth Strategy for the period 2014-2020 was an important step towards improving governance and youth policy performance, even if some coordination and monitoring mechanisms showed to be ineffective.
More about the recent development is in chapter 1.9 on current debates and reforms and in all last chapter on current debates and reforms in each policy field.