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Various political and expert bodies are currently debating a reform ofBook VIII of the Social Code (SGB VIII). A key focus is on the inclusion of children and young people with disabilities, which may have consequences for youth work in the future. In its coalition treaty, the federal government set the goal of introducing a legal entitlement for primary school children to full-day care as part of child and youth services. Since some youth work facilities are already active in this field, it is expected that, once implemented, the reform will affect youth work. For example, the planned changes may affect the time left over for children and young people to devote to youth work activities, or they may affect the involvement of child and youth work in providing care services for primary school children.
Debates on and in youth work take place in academia and research, in alliances of child and youth services institutions [e.g. Child and Youth Welfare Association (Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Kinder- und Jugendhilfe, AGJ)], in consortia or alliances in the field of youth work [e.g. the open doors association of North Rhine-Westphalia (Arbeitsgemeinschaft Offene Türen Nordrhein-Westfalen, AGOT NRW)], the German Federal Youth Council (Deutscher Bundesjugendring, DBJR), the federal state and local youth councils (Jugendringe), as well as in a range of specialist publications (e.g. 'deutsche jugend' magazine). Conferences and workshops attended by decision-makers from state and local youth offices, organisations and more, as well as youth work professionals, offer further platforms for the debates surrounding youth work. The committees responsible for child and youth policy in the various municipalities (Gemeinde), districts (Landkreise), urban districts (kreisfreie Städte), federal states (Länder) and nationwide (such as the local child and youth service committees) offer further forums for debating matters of this nature. Foundations also weigh in on the debates surrounding child and youth work. A review of the major magazines on youth work, discussion and position papers from the general field of child and youth services and the specific field of youth work in active alliances reveals discussions on a number of topics.
A series of debates have long been waged to do with the legal mandate of youth work. They focus on aspects including to what extent youth work can be incorporated into social functions such as care for school-age children or preventive activities, and what role youth work plays or should play in this context.
Participation is also a recurring topic in youth work, not only in terms of how child and youth work can be structured participatively, but also in terms of how political participation by young people in their living environments (such as local participation processes or participation in youth services planning) can be increased and structured.
Given that child and youth work is a mandatory requirement of the local authorities, debates often centre on the provision of adequate staff resources and budgets for youth work and the upkeep of youth work services. Attracting youth work professionals is a current topic in child and youth work as well as in other areas of youth services.
Regional trends can be seen in the demographic change. Here, one recurring subject in particular relates to youth work in rural areas and the challenges faced there. The emphasis is on the importance of local, reachable facilities and services for youth work locally despite the falling number of young people in these areas.
Topics that have shifted into the focus of youth work as a result of social and legal changes are: the inclusion of young people with disability in youth work; young refugees in youth work; and the opportunities, limits and consequences of the digital revolution.