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There are two most important acts:
- the renewed Child Protection Act, which defines the principles of ensuring the rights and well-being of children in the age group of 0-18;
- the Youth Work Act, which defines the age range for young people from 7-26 and the obligations of different authorities in the youth field.
As described in the previous section of the chapter, there are many different laws, which carry more or less direct relevance for young people as they define the obligations and rights of municipalities and central government towards the young people as well as entitlements, rights, duties and limitations of young people.
Therefore, in the following paragraph the main focus is on the Youth Work Act that was approved in 1999 by the Parliament and it was re-adopted in 2010.
Youth Work Act provides the legal basis for the organization and financing of youth work. The Act defines the main terms used in the youth field, main institutions, organizations and forms of youth work, the principles of youth work, financing of youth work, etc. The Act provides the responsibilities regarding youth work of the Ministry of Education and Research, county governors, and local municipality. The Act defines municipal and local youth councils.
There is no description of the rights and obligations of young people in the act.
The key policy domains relevant for the youth field identified in the Youth Work Act are written in the 2nd and 3rd chapter of the act.
Youth Work Act has been adopted two times:
Since the last adoption the act has been revised 8 times:
- 01.01.2011 - revision on the paragraphs regarding youth camp injunctions, charges in violation of the limitation on working with youth and children (regarding the transition to new currency - euro);
- 23.12.2013 - revision on the paragraphs regarding limitation on working with youth and children;
- 01.07.2014 - revision on the paragraphs regarding youth camps' organization, tasks of the Ministry of Education and Science, tasks of the county governors, permits of youth camps and requirements to the keeper of a youth camp, qualifications of youth camp counsellers and directos, governmental supervision over youth camps;
- 01.01.2015 - revision on the paragraphs regarding the limitations on working with youth and children;
- 18.01.2016 - revision on the paragraphs regarding the permits of youth camps and project camps, recognition of the professional qualifications of a foreign country.
- 26.06.2016 - revision on the activity licences for youth project camps.
- 01.07.2017 - revision on the conditions for youth project camps and report requirement to give information regarding the number of young people in the camp through Estonian Education Information System. Also, information regarding additional financial support for hobby education and recreational education to rural municipalities and cities.
- 01.01.2018 - revision on the functions of county governments (regarding their liquidation), supervision of youth camps (done by the Ministry of Education and Research).
- 01.08.2020 - revision of the institution handling foreign qualifications (instead of Estonian Youth Work Centre there now is the Education and Youth Board).
Young people have been consulted. During the development of amendments in 2010 Estonian National Youth Council was active partner in desining the new regulations. There is a systematic approach to involving represenatives of young people when amendments of the Youth Work Act are planned and discussed by the Ministry of Education and Research.