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EACEA National Policies Platform


10. Youth work

10.3 Support to youth work

Last update: 28 November 2023
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  1. Policy legal framework
  2. Funding
  3. Cooperation

Policy/legal framework

In Denmark, there is no legislative framework specifically for youth work. Instead, a range of different laws govern matters related to youth work. Municipalities can choose between the following four acts when establishing youth clubs and youth work for young people.

The Act on Youth Schools (Ungdomsskoleloven) defines the objective of municipal youth schools.

Youth schools must:

  • Offer young people the opportunity to strengthen and expand their knowledge and skills
  • Give young people an understanding of and equip them for life in general
  • Develop young people’s interest in and active participation in a democratic society

Youth schools shall provide a wide range of activities for all young people in the 14–18 age group living in the municipality. The act relates to both non-formal and formal learning activities.

The formal learning activities often target people with fewer opportunities, for instance, special needs education, Danish lessons for newly arrived migrants in the 18–25 age group or full-time formal education (heltidsundervisning) equivalent to lower secondary education but scheduled more flexibly, considering individual circumstances. Youth schools offer alternative learning courses for young people who cannot participate in primary and lower secondary education (folkeskole). Often, the measures involve non-formal learning activities and focus on making the young person ready for upper secondary education.


After school hours, youth schools are obliged to offer mainstream education (almen undervisning), which is education in a wide range of subjects such as theatre, sports, cooking, music, language, etc.  Furthermore, youth schools must offer courses in road safety and moped education.

Other activities in accordance with a youth school’s objective that may be included in the municipality’s youth policy are, for instance, travel, youth exchanges and camps. Lastly, many youth schools have youth clubs where young people gather after school hours and during the evenings, and municipal youth councils, which strengthen young people’s citizenship and democratic participation.

The Act on Day Care (Dagtilbudsloven) covers a range of day care institutions and leisure time activities focussing on pedagogy, social inclusion and care.


According to theAct,  municipalities are obliged to establish youth clubs (klubtilbud) as one of the municipality’s after-school activities for children and young people. The legal framework states that the objective of the Act (§1) is to foster children and young people’s well-being, development and learning through day care, after-school care, youth clubs and other social pedagogic leisure time activities.

Furthermore, in §65, the Act states that youth clubs and other social pedagogical after-school activities must be developed in cooperation with young people. The clubs must foster a young person’s development, independence and understanding of democracy, as well as contribute to the young person’s ability to take responsibility and make decisions. Municipalities’ after-school activities must include all young people but may also target young people with special needs.

The Act on Day Care pertains to non-formal and informal learning but it establishes that youth clubs must support young people with their future opportunities within the area of education and employment.


TheAct on Non-Formal General Education  (Folkeoplysningsloven) obliges municipalities to support leisure activities for children and young people. See section 2.1 for a detailed description of the municipalities’ obligations.

The objective of the act (§1) is to ensure public funding of free non-formal education activities and democratic voluntary activities that are based on community, basic freedom and human rights, and the ideological basis of each initiator.

Furthermore, the Act states that the objective of the voluntary non-formal learning activities in the associations is to foster democratic understanding and active citizenship and, based on the activities in the associations, to advance non-formal learning. The aim is to enhance association members’ wish for and ability to take responsibility for their own lives and to actively participate in society.

The funding of leisure activities for children and young people targets associations working with children and young people until they turn 25.

The Act on Social Service (Serviceloven) obliges municipalities to establish special youth clubs for young people who have a special need for support and treatment that cannot be met by ordinary youth clubs established according to the Act on Day Care. The special need for support and treatment can be due to a substantial and permanent physical or mental impairment.



Public youth work, established in the four acts mentioned above, is the responsibility of the municipalities. Most municipal youth activities are financed by public subsidies and different degrees of participation/user fees. The municipal council allocates the amount of funding, which means that the budget varies in the 98 municipalities. Local taxes and a state block grant cover municipal budgets. There is a participation fee which varies according to the legal framework.

EU funds are not used in the daily running of municipal youth schools. However, youth schools may apply for Erasmus+ funding for specific projects.


Third sector associations and NGOs involved in non-formal general education for young people are supported by different sources of funding (see section 2.1 for more details).

Associations may also apply for Erasmus+ Youth funding or funding through the European Solidarity Corps programme.



There is no national framework for cooperation between all youth work stakeholders.

However, there is cooperation between some youth work stakeholders. For instance:

Youth Ring and Youth School associations mentioned in section 10.2 which represent local youth clubs and youth schools.

Local Government Denmark (KL) facilitates a wide range of networks for municipal actors.

The Danish Centre for Youth Research Association supports the Danish Centre for Youth Research (CeFU) at the University of Aalborg. Members of the association are, for instance, municipalities, sports associations, the Danish Youth Council, upper secondary education institutions, folk high schools and the Ministry of Children and Education. The members play an active part in prioritising CeFU’s research activities; they discuss new initiatives and are invited to a number of events illustrating different problems and social situations of young people. CeFU researches youth and the lives of young people, not only youth work, though many of the members of CeFU are involved in youth work.