1.6 Evidence-based youth policy
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Evidence-based youth policy is a fixed part of youth policy in Germany at all levels (see Section 1.4.4. Policy monitoring and evaluation). It is also a legal requirement. Examples at federal level include the Federal Youth Board (Bundesjugendkuratorium) and the Child and Youth Reports (Kinder- und Jugendberichte).
Section 83.2 of Book 8 of the German Social Code (Sozialgesetzbuch Achtes Buch, SGB VIII says that the federal government must be advised on basic matters of child and youth welfare by an expert committee, the Federal Youth Board. New Federal Youth Board members are appointed each parliamentary term. They are experts from politics, public administration, associations and academia. An administrative act (Verwaltungsvorschrift) contains detailed rules. The Federal Youth Board finds suitable ways to involve young people in its work. The Federal Youth Board regularly issues opinions on current youth policy matters in Germany. In 2020 it has issued opinions on subjects including social participation, European youth policy and support for young people during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Section 84 SGB VIII requires the federal government to submit a Child and Youth Report (Kinder- und Jugendbericht) in each parliamentary term to the German parliament (Bundestag) and the Federal Council (Bundesrat). The Child and Youth Report is written by an independent commission of scholars from different areas as well as experts from the practical field. The Report suggests specific ways to further develop child and youth policy. The commission is appointed by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend, BMFSFJ). The reports provide information on the lives of young people in Germany and each one has a special focal topic. Every third Report provides a general overview of the current status of child and youth services. The Child and Youth Report is central to the evidence-based development of youth policy in Germany.
The 14th Child and Youth Report (from the 17th parliamentary term) was a general report published in 2013 called Taking new responsibility for child and youth services (Kinder- und Jugendhilfe in neuer Verantwortung).
The 15th Child and Youth Report (from the 18th parliamentary term) published in 2017 was called Navigating freedoms, family, all-day school and virtual worlds – personality development and education for young people (Freiräumen, Familie, Ganztagsschule und virtuellen Welten – Persönlichkeitsentwicklung und Bildungsanspruch im Jugendalter).
The 16th Child and Youth Report (from the 19th parliamentary term) called Supporting democracy education for children and young people (Förderung demokratischer Bildung im Kindes- und Jugendalter) was published in 2020.
The federal states (Länder) also regularly present child and youth reports to support the evidence-based development of regional youth policy. Details such as how often they are published, which subjects they cover or other general requirements are different in each state. However, the underlying goal is to provide stimulus for youth policy in the federal states and help actively take state youth policy forward. Examples include:
Since 1973 Hamburg has been required to publish a child and youth report in each parliamentary term. Hamburg published the most recent report in August 2014 called Child and youth report of the 20th parliamentary term. Report on the situation of young people and the impact of child and youth services in Hamburg (Kinder- und Jugendbericht der 20. Legislaturperiode. Bericht über die Situation der Jugendlichen und den Nutzen der Kinder- und Jugendhilfe in Hamburg). The report looks at key developments in child and youth services in the city of Hamburg. It only covers the activities and initiatives of the authorities responsible for children and youth.
- North Rhine-Westphalia
The 10th Child and Youth Report for North Rhine-Westphalia (10. Kinder- und Jugendbericht für Nordrhein-Westfalen) published in 2016 was called Children and young people in North Rhine-Westphalia – approaches, developments and challenges in child and youth services and youth policy (Kinder und Jugendliche in Nordrhein-Westfalen - Ansätze, Entwicklungen und Herausforderung in der Kinder- und Jugendhilfe und der Politik). NRW publishes this report each parliamentary term. It looks at the lives of young people in North Rhine-Westphalia and the consequences for youth policy.
Since 2010 Rhineland-Palatinate has published a child and youth report in each parliamentary term. The third report was publishedin 2021. Its focus is on inclusion and participation in society, in particular by young people who face specific burdens, problems, aspects, or challenges in their daily lives.
Saxony published its 5th Child and Youth Report in 2019 called 5th Child and Youth Report for Saxony. Participate. Shape. Join in. Youth participation in the Free State of Saxony (5. Sächsischer Kinder- und Jugendbericht. Mitmachen. Gestalten. Mittendrin. Jugendpartizipation im Freistaat Sachsen). It looks at implementing and shaping an Independent Youth Policy (Eigenständige Jugendpolitik) in Saxony.
Saxony-Anhalt published its 7th Child and Youth Report (7. Kinder- und Jugendbericht) in 2020. It looks at the lives of young people based on an online survey of 2,600 young people living in Saxony-Anhalt. The Report is an important basis for the Saxony-Anhalt Youth Policy Programme (Jugendpolitisches Programm für Sachsen-Anhalt) expected by the end of 2020.
The 5th Saarland Child and Youth Report (5. Kinder- und Jugendbericht des Saarlandes) is due in 2020. It takes a general look at the lives of children and young people in the Saarland. Saarland published its 4th Child and Youth Report (4. Kinder- und Jugendbericht) in 2015 called New family structures – challenges for child and youth services (Neue Familialität als Herausforderung für die Kinder- und Jugendhilfe).
There are many different forms of youth policy cooperation between politics and research. These consist of institutionalised mechanisms as well as ad hoc partnerships and requests.
Beyond this form of cooperation, in 1963 an initiative of the German parliament (Bundestag) resulted in the creation of a non-profit organisation: the German Youth Institute (Deutsche Jugendinstitut, DJI). DJI is one of the largest independent institutes of social sciences in Europe. It conducts research into the lives of children, young people and families, as well as the institutional settings that children, young people and families live in. It advises the federal government, the federal states (Länder) and local authorities, and provides important input for the practical field. The Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend, BMFSFJ) provides the majority of DJI's funding. In 2020 BMFSFJ provided DJI with institutional funding of 15,101,000 euros, an increase of 7.39% against 2019 (14,062,000 euros) and of 28.56% against 2018 (11,744,000 euros) (see section 17, page 20 of the federal budget [Bundeshaushalt]).
DJI also receives project funding from other sources, including the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, BMBF), the federal states, the European Commission, foundations and other science funding bodies. DJI independently chooses its research activities and interests. A scientific advisory committee advises DJI on its research profile.
Since 2019 BMFSFJ has provided institutional funding to the German Center for Integration and Migration Research (Deutsches Zentrum für Integrations- und Migrationsforschung, DeZIM). DeZIM bundles existing structures and develops them further, aiming to connect and strengthen integration and migration research in Germany and align it with future needs. Institutional funding provided to DeZIM in 2020 was 3,407,000 euros, an increase of 17.56% against 2019 (2,898,000 euros). DeZIM also receives project funding from other sources (see section 17, page 19 of the federal budget [Bundeshaushalt]).
The Research and Practice in Dialogue (Forschung und Praxis im Dialog, FPD) network has existed since 1989. BMFSFJ funds the network, which supports cross-sectoral, cross-agency dialogue between academia and the practical field on international youth work and child and youth travel. transfer e.V. coordinates the network and organises regular events as platforms to discuss current international youth work topics.
A great deal of project-based research is also done in Germany's universities and research institutes. Public agencies (federal government, federal states and local authorities), foundations, EU funding initiatives and more provide the funding for these projects. Some projects aim to learn more about a specific subject or to evaluate how effective existing and new laws or (youth) policy approaches are.
Examples of current studies and research projects financed by BMFSFJ and which are used to help steer youth policy include:
The study "Why not? A study of accesses and barriers in international youth exchange" (Warum nicht? Studie zum Internationalen Jugendaustausch: Zugänge und Barrieren), coordinated by transfer e.V. as the organising body of Research and Practice in Dialogue (Forschung und Praxis im Dialog, FPD), attracted a lot of attention in the international youth work field. It looked at the opportunities young people have to access international mobility initiatives as well as the barriers they face. BMFSFJ and international youth work organisations use the findings from the study to improve opportunities for all young people to access exchange programmes and in particular to help young people who, until now, have been underrepresented.
In 2016, DJI and BMFSFJ presented the findings of a nationwide study into the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans* adolescents and young adults (see press release). Policy-makers and the practical field were very interested in the study's findings. It led to many different new research projects, including Coming-out in NRW, Queer recreation and sport spaces (Queere Freizeit) and Experiences of LGBT*Q adolescents in vocational training (Erfahrungen von LSBT*Q Jugendlichen in der beruflichen Bildung). The findings of the studies are used to develop further initiatives to improve the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans* adolescents in Germany.
In addition to topical studies, various bodies regularly evaluate youth policy laws and programmes. Examples include:
- Evaluation of the Federal Child and Youth Plan (Evaluation des Kinder- und Jugendplans des Bundes, KJP) (2009–2015)
The findings of the evaluation helped to reform and modernise control processes and funding tools. The government adopted the new Directives for the Federal Child and Youth Plan (Kinder- und Jugendplan, KJP) on 29 September 2016. The Directives took effect on 1 January 2017.
- Evaluation of the Act on the Federal Volunteer Service and the Act to Promote Youth Voluntary Services (Evaluation des Bundesfreiwilligendienstgesetzes und des Gesetzes zur Förderung von Jugendfreiwilligendiensten) (2012–2015)
The findings of the evaluation were used, among other things, in a draft law introducing a part-time option for youth voluntary services and in the Federal Volunteer Service (Bundesfreiwilligendienst) for persons up to their 27th birthday. The law took effect on 6 May 2019.
- Evaluation of the Federal Child Protection Act (Evaluation des Bundeskinderschutzgesetzes) (2013–2015)
The evaluation resulted in a number of proposals on practical improvements to child protection. The findings are used to further develop child protection in Germany.
- Research project on the implementation of the EU Youth Strategy in Germany (Wissenschaftliche Begleitung der Umsetzung der EU-Jugendstrategie in Deutschland) (2010–2018)
A research project accompanied the process of implementing the EU Youth Strategy in Germany. Over the years, the findings were used in discussions on how the process could be developed further.
- Evaluation of the programme Live Democracy! (Evaluation des Programms "Demokratie Leben!") (2015–present)
The findings of the evaluation of the Live Democracy! programme's first funding wave (2015–2019) were used to further develop the programme and help shape the second funding wave. The second funding wave runs for four years (2020–2024).
The Federal Statistical Office (Statistische Bundesamt, Destatis) and the statistical offices in the federal states (Landesstatistikämter) regularly collect youth-related data and statistics, which are published on their websites. The data offers insights into child and youth services and the lives of young people.
Some data on the lives of young people relates specifically to young people (e.g. youth crime; the number of young people not in employment, education or training; young people born abroad; adoptions of children and young people), whilst other data contains information about the population as a whole with young people as one or more age cohorts (e.g. the percentage of young people that make up the population; information about health, housing, poverty, alcohol and drug abuse, accidents).
Data from the German Microcensus (Mikrozensus) (the largest official annual survey of households in Germany) is generally broken down into 5-year age cohorts. Some topics use different breakdowns:
- From 0 years (e.g. sick and injured, migrant background).
- Under 15 years, then in 5-year cohorts (e.g. labour market participation).
- From 15 years (e.g. school education).
- 15–18, 18–20, then in 5-year cohorts (e.g. smoking habits).
The statistical offices also collect data on child and youth services, such as the number of children and young people taken into care, staff-to-child ratios and socio-educational support services.
The statistics on children and young people cover four areas:
- Data on a range of socio-educational support services and the administrative functions of the local youth welfare authorities (Jugendämter).
- Data on youth work initiatives provided by statutory and non-statutory agencies.
- Data on child care in a range of youth services facilities and the people who work there, as well as publicly subsidised family day care.
- Child and youth services spending and income.
The statistics on child and youth services help the government to monitor their development and provide an insight into the financing of child and youth services. The data is used, e.g., for planning purposes and to further develop the law on youth services.
The office for statistics on child and youth services (Arbeitsstelle Kinder- und Jugendhilfestatistik) prepares statistical data on child and youth services in a user-friendly format. The commented data on youth services (KomDat Jugendhilfe - Kommentierte Daten der Jugendhilfe) information service makes the data available to the public. The legal basis for providing these statistics is found in Sections 98 to 103 of Book 8 of the German Social Code (Sozialgesetzbuch Achtes Buch, SGB VIII).
Other federal agencies also collect their own statistical data. For example, the Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit, BA) publishes an annual overview of labour market statistics. These contain data on areas such as youth unemployment in Germany. The overviews use 5-year age cohorts starting from the age of 15. BA also looks at young people specifically in reports such as its Analysis of the labour and training market for under-25s (Analyse des Arbeits- und Ausbildungsmarktes für unter 25-Jährige).
Many other surveys expand on the data collected by the statistical offices and provide information on the lives of young people and the institutions they come into contact with as the target group for child and youth services. Examples of state-financed surveys include:
The German Institute for Economic Research (Deutsches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, DIW) has carried out the Socio-Economic Panel since 1984. It is a yearly representative survey of private households in Germany. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, BMBF) and the federal states (Länder) fund SOEP.
The Leibniz Institute for Educational Trajectories (Leibniz-Institut für Bildungsverläufe, LIfBi) at the University of Bamberg (Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg) has been carrying out the National Educational Panel Study since 2009. It collects longitudinal data on educational processes and skills development in Germany. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, BMBF) and the federal states (Länder) fund NEPS.
- German Health Interview and Examination Survey for Children and Adolescents (Studie zur Gesundheit von Kindern und Jugendlichen in Deutschland, KiGGS-Studie)
The Robert Koch Institute (Robert Koch-Institut, RKI) has been carrying out the KiGGS study on the health of children and young people in Germany since 2009. The study forms part of RKI's health monitoring activities and collects long-term data on the health of children and young people in Germany. The Federal Ministry of Health (Bundesministerium für Gesundheit) funds RKI as a federal institute.
The German Youth Institute (Deutsches Jugendinstitut, DJI) has been carrying out the AiD:A Survey since 2009. It collects data on the lives of children, young people and adults in everyday development and action contexts, especially the family. The Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend, BMFSFJ) finances part of the AiD:A project. The DJI provides the rest from its institutional resources.
The German Youth Institute has been carrying out its JHSW project nationwide on a regular basis since 1991. It is a cross-sectional, cross-provider, questionnaire-based survey of structural conditions in statutory and non-statutory child and youth organisations. The DJI finances the project from its institutional resources.
The German Centre of Gerontology (Deutsches Zentrum für Altersfragen, DZA) has been carrying out the German Survey on Volunteering since 1999. It collects data on volunteering activities in Germany. The Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend, BMFSFJ) funds the Survey.
Some federal states (Länder) carry out their own longitudinal studies on the lives of young people in the region. Examples include:
The Institute for Applied Research for Family, Children and Youth (Institut für angewandte Familien-, Kindheits- und Jugendforschung, IFK) at Potsdam University (Universität Potsdam) has been carrying out a representative longitudinal study on young people in Brandenburg (Jugend in Brandenburg) since 1991. It records changes in the living conditions and attitudes of young people in the State of Brandenburg. The eighth wave of the survey was conducted in 2017. The study Changing youth in Brandenburg: lives · values · participation. (Wandel der Jugend in Brandenburg: Lebenslage · Werte · Teilhabe) published the findings in 2018.
Baden-Württemberg has been carrying out a youth study (Jugendstudie) since 2011. In 2020 it published the fifth youth study called Baden-Württemberg youth study 2020: a comparison of findings from 2011 to 2020 and the statement of the 13th state student council (Jugendstudie Baden-Württemberg 2020. Die Ergebnisse von 2011 bis 2020 im Vergleich und die Stellungnahme des 13. Landesschülerbeirats). The Baden-Württemberg ministry for culture, youth and sport (Ministerium für Kultus, Jugend und Sport), the Youth Foundation of Baden-Württemberg (Jugendstiftung Baden-Württemberg) and the state student council (Landesschülerbeirat) jointly carried out the study. It gives insights into the attitudes, wishes and expectations of young people in Baden-Württemberg.
Apart from institutional funding for DJI and DeZIM, the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend, BMFSFJ) also funds project-based research in the field of youth via the Federal Child and Youth Plan (Kinder- und Jugendplan des Bundes, KJP). The KJP has been the federal government's central funding tool for child and youth services since 1950. Section 83 of Book 8 of the German Social Code (Sozialgesetzbuch Achtes Buch, SGB VIII) requires the KJP to initiate and support the activities of child and youth services at federal level. This includes by funding research projects as special projects (> Section 1.7 Funding youth policy).
The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, BMBF) also funds research into the youth field. Examples from 2019 and 2020 include:
- Directive on the funding of research to promote "The dismantling of barriers to education: learning environments, educational success and social participation" (Abbau von Bildungsbarrieren: Lernumwelten, Bildungserfolg und soziale Teilhabe) in the Framework Programme for Empirical Educational Research (Rahmenprogramm empirische Bildungsforschung), Federal Gazette (Bundesanzeiger) dated 21 June 2019
- Directive on funding a research association during the first phase of the joint initiative between the federal government and the federal states (Länder) to support schools in socially disadvantaged locations (School makes you strong [Schule macht stark]), Federal Gazette (Bundesanzeiger) dated 28 November 2019
- Directive on funding the development of a concept to establish a German centre for child and youth health, Federal Gazette (Bundesanzeiger) dated 3 July 2020
The federal states fund project-based youth research via their state youth plans (Landesjugendpläne).