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In Estonia, no distinct governance system exists for youth volunteering. There is no legislation on youth volunteering as such, but the volunteering has been described in the fields of rescue services. The European Solidarity Corps (previous European Voluntary Service) is organized by the Department of Youth Programs of the Agency of Erasmus+ and European Solidarity Corps (until 31.12.2020 the Youth in Action National Agency Foundation Archimedes Youth Agency).
Instead, two other structures are being used for this purpose. On the one hand, youth volunteering takes place within the legislative and administrative framework for volunteering in general. This aspect of youth volunteering is structured by general civil society regulations and organizational practices. On the other hand, youth volunteering takes place within youth work settings (e.g. youth organizations, youth centers, youth projects, etc.). This aspect of youth volunteering is regulated by youth work regulations and organizational practices.
Supporting and organizing youth work is the responsibility of the Ministry of Education and Research, more concretely the Department of Youth and Talent Policy.
Supporting and organizing the development of volunteering, in general, is the responsibility of the Ministry of Interior. At the ministerial level, themes and issues related to volunteering are addressed in the Civil Society Development Plan 2015-2020. In the development plan, volunteering is seen to be an integral part of civil society and the NGO movement in the country. The new Civil Society program 2021-2024 (Kodanikuühiskonna programm 2021-2024) was approved on 10.07.2020 and it is the follow-up for the currently valid Civil Society Development Plan 2015-2020. Youth volunteering is mentioned in that document, but is not set as a specific goal, volunteering is being addressed in general.
For the period 2014-2018, the Ministry of Interior set up a collaboration agreement in the field of volunteering development with Kodukant, the Estonian Village Movement. Neither this collaboration agreement nor action plan for 2016 mention anything on youth volunteering specifically. However, the list of organizations in Volunteering Network, which is comprised of 30 organizations, includes also youth or youth work organizations (Youth in Action National Agency, The Foundation Domus Dorpatensis, Association of Open Youth Centres in Estonia, Estonian National Youth Council). Young people volunteer through these organizations as well as through other organizations, for example, Estonian Food Bank, Estonian Fund for Nature, Estonian Society for the Protection of Animals, village movement Kodukant and others.
As no distinct governance system for specifically youth volunteering exists, volunteering is a topic in the civil society strategic planning that is being coordinated by the Ministry of Interior. The main cross-sectoral cooperation in the field of youth volunteering is being done between the Ministry of Education and Research and Ministry of Interior.
The draft document of a new youth field development plan for the years 2021-2035 (noortevaldkonna arengukava 2021-2035 eelnõu) brings the attention to youth volunteering with different activities and one youth specific indicator regarding youth volunteering.
The Civil Society Development Plan addresses mainly the cooperation between the public sector and citizens' associations. The new Civil Society programme for 2021-2024 (Kodanikuühiskonna programm 2021-2024) that is a follow-up for the currently valid development plan that ends in 2020, brings out important results that also contain youth field as an important partner. There are 3 results that are concretely connected to the Youth field program 2020-2023 (not specifically to youth volunteering, but connecting to that) are as following:
- the activities of youth work, NGOs, schools and universities are connected with civic society;
- the Community Practice program is distributed in schools all over Estonia;
- the youth participation is being developed on local level.
One more result that mentions young people:
- there are development programs for social entrepreneurship targeted to young people.