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EACEA National Policies Platform


1. Youth Policy Governance

1.7 Funding youth policy

Last update: 4 March 2021
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  1. How Youth policy is funded
  2. What is funded?
  3. Financial accountability
  4. Use of EU Funds

How Youth policy is funded

In Germany, youth policy is funded at all levels of government. As a cross-sectoral policy field, measures for young people are not just supported by the youth ministries, but also by other ministries, e.g., education, sports, labour and social affairs.

Germany’s child and youth services are co-funded from state and independent sources. The financial statistics on this refer largely to public-sector funding volumes, since only incomplete information is available on the income and expenditures of independent organisations. Around 68% of the child and youth services budget comes from local authorities (Kommunen), around 29% from the federal states (Länder), and around 3% from the federal government (Bund) (cf. Child and youth services report (Kinder- und Jugendhilfereport) 2018).

At the federal level, youth policy measures are predominantly funded under the Federal Child and Youth Plan (Kinder- und Jugendplan des Bundes, KJP). The Federal Youth Ministry’s (BMFSFJ) programme Live Democracy! (Demokratie Leben!) (2020 4.06% (115,500,000 euros) of the Ministry budget for child and youth policy) is another source. Live Democracy! supports projects that promote diversity, respect and non-violent communication. Youth policy measures on, e.g., civil society engagement, health or crime prevention may be eligible for funding under other federal programmes that do not specifically focus on youth policy.

The Federal Child and Youth Plan forms part of the budget that is managed by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend, BMFSFJ) and is managed under the child and youth policy budget item (Kinder- und Jugendpolitik), which accounts for 20.87% (2,843,949,000 euros) of the entire budget managed by the BMFSFJ (2019: 9.44%, 987,834,000 euros). In 2020, the BMFSFJ managed 2.68% (13,628,263,000 euros) of the entire federal budget. In 2019, the figure was 2.93% (10,448,322,000 euros).

The 2020 budget of the Child and Youth Plan is 218,594,000 euros (representing 7.69% of the child and youth policy budget item), 6.54% more than in 2019 (205,168,000 euros, or 20.77% of the child and youth policy budget item.

The federal states either have their own child and youth plan (Landesjugendplan) or earmark funds from other ministerial budgets for child and youth services. These funds are used to finance measures that are relevant to the federal state in question and for this reason are not eligible for funding under the Federal Child and Youth Plan.

Most of the funding for child and youth services under Book 8 of the Social Code (SGB VIII) comes from the local authorities via their youth plans. In 2018 these funds accounted for 84.9% of expenditures, with 12.3% coming from the federal states and 2.7% from the federal budget (cf. Document (Drucksache) 19/21407 of the German Parliament (Deutscher Bundestag), p. 61).


What is funded?

At the federal level, all federal funding programmes follow their own logic depending on what they are designed to achieve. In the following, this is demonstrated using the Federal Child and Youth Plan (Kinder- und Jugendplan des Bundes, KJP) and the federal programme Democracy Live! (Demokratie Leben!) as examples.

The KJP funds activities that promote child and youth services and are of supraregional importance. In addition, the KJP funding instrument helps create an effective nationwide infrastructure for child and youth services. By funding these kinds of activities, the KJP seeks to assist young people in their personal and social development and to help prevent or mitigate deprivation. In addition, KJP-funded activities are designed to help guard against threats to young people’s welfare. Eligible measures include those that provide advice and support to parents and guardians and those that create and maintain positive living conditions for young people and their families as well as a child-, youth- and family-friendly environment. The Child and Youth Plan policy (Richtlinien des KJP) was most recently updated on 29 September 2016 following a comprehensive reform. For measures to be funded under the KJP, they have to be of strong federal relevance, be significant on a nationwide scale and, owing to their nature, cannot be effectively funded by one federal state alone.

In particular, the KJP funds measures relating to

  • child and youth work and extracurricular child and youth education (civic education for young people, arts education and cultural learning for young people, child and youth work; in the sports field, youth association work; international youth work);
  • youth social work and integration;
  • support for children in day-care facilities,
  • support for families, young people, and parents and guardians;
  • other federal-level child and youth services.

In terms of funding, the Democracy Live! (Demokratie Leben!) programme prioritises civil engagement activities at the local level, such as local partnerships for democracy. At the Länder level, the programme supports democracy centres (Demokratie-Zentren) that perform state-wide coordination and networking activities as well as mobile counselling services, victim counselling and anti-radicalisation and anti-extremism counselling. At the federal level, the programme provides funding for competence centres (Kompetenzzentren) and competence networks (Kompetenznetzwerke), as well as for pilot projects relating to democracy promotion, diversity and the prevention of extremism.

The funding priorities at state and local level are stipulated in the state funding plans (Landesförderpläne) and local youth plans (kommunale Jugendpläne), respectively. They are drawn up in line with regional and local objectives.


Financial accountability

Organisations that receive public-sector funding for their activities and projects are held accountable vis-à-vis the source of said funding.

Under the Federal Child and Youth Plan (Kinder- und Jugendplans des Bundes, KJP) and the federal programme Democracy Live! (Demokratie Leben!), the beneficiary organisations must submit an accountability report to various recipients depending on the application process.

Essentially, three processes exist: a direct process (Direktverfahren), a central organisation process (Zentralstellenverfahren) and a state process (Länderverfahren). Under the direct process, the beneficiary reports to the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend, BMFSFJ). If the beneficiary is affiliated with a central organisation (Zentralstelle), it submits the report to that central organisation, which then produces a general report that it submits to the BMFSFJ. Organisations that receive funding under the state process (Länderverfahren) submit their report to the supreme state-level youth authority (Landesjugendbehörde).

The content of these accountability reports is identical regardless of the process. Beneficiary organisations must demonstrate that the funds have been used effectively and in line with the declared purpose. For longer-term projects, this must be demonstrated for each calendar year. As a rule, the funds cannot be carried forward from one budget year to the next. In addition, for each budget year a separate written report (Sachbericht) must be submitted detailing the objectives and priorities of the measures, the implementation of the activities that form part of the measures, the experiences gained, as well as outcomes, conclusions and an outlook.

Under Sections 91 and 100 of the Federal Budget Code (Bundeshaushaltsordnung), the Federal Audit Office (Bundesrechnungshof) is entitled to audit the use of funds.


Use of EU Funds

Two notable European funds that provide funding for youth policy measures in Germany are the Erasmus+ programme and the European Social Fund. Another European source of funding for projects in Germany is the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), which invests in growth and employment. While the ERDF provides no funding for projects specific to youth, its objectives (e.g., social integration, labour market integration) are worded in such a way that ERDF funds can also be earmarked for youth policy projects.



Erasmus+ is the EU’s programme for general and vocational education, youth and sports. The overall budget in the funding period 2014-2020 amounts to 14.7 billion euros, split between general and vocational education, sports and youth. In Germany, these areas are managed by four national agencies (Nationalagenturen):

According to JUGEND für Europa, Germany received a disbursement of 29.3 million euros from the Erasmus+ budget in 2018. Of this, 15.3 million euros were earmarked for activities under Erasmus+ Youth in Action. In 2019 this amount was considerably increased to 37.2 million euros, of which 19.8 million euros were dedicated to youth. For 2020, 39.6 million euros have been made available, 21.1 million euros of which for Erasmus+ Youth in Action.

European Social Fund (ESF)

The ESF is the EU’s main tool for promoting employment in Europe. In the 2014-2020 funding period the German Federal Government ran a total of 25 ESF programmes, each of which are assigned to a certain ESF priority area (strengthening employment, better education, giving a chance to all). Some federal states, too, run their own ESF programmes. Overall, in the 2014-2020 funding period Germany benefits from around 7 billion euros in ESF funds.

Three of the federal ESF programmes are aimed specifically at eliminating obstacles to participation for young people; another is indirectly geared to children as it is designed to support parents.

  • The Federal ESF Integration Directive (ESF-Integrationsrichtlinie Bund) aims to integrate young people and young adults with special difficulties entering work or training gradually and sustainably into the labour market. The target group is young people, young adults, the unemployed, members of the immigrant community and individuals under the age of 35 who are finding it especially difficult to enter employment or access education. The programme incorporates 128 projects. It is managed by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (Bundesministerium für Arbeit und Soziales).
  • The programme "Encouraging Youth in the Neighbourhood" (JUGEND STÄRKEN im Quartier)"  supports selected model municipalities nationwide in trialling services for young people on the basis of Section 13 of Book 8 of the Social Code (SGB VIII), which deals with youth social work (Jugendsozialarbeit). The programme is targeted at adolescents, young adults, members of the immigrant community, local authorities, and youth social work providers. 178 model municipalities are taking part in the programme, which is managed by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend).
  • The programme Promoting vocational education for sustainable development. Enabling green skills for climate-friendly, resource-efficient action at work (Berufsbildung für nachhaltige Entwicklung befördern. Über grüne Schlüsselkompetenzen zu klima- und ressourcenschonendem Handeln im Beruf, BBNE) serves to raise awareness among employees of sustainable development, enabling them to take concrete action to protect the climate and conserve resources in everyday working life. The target group is young people under 25, young adults, journeymen, master craftspeople and training staff. The programme is managed by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz und nukleare Sicherheit).
  • The programme "Opportunities for parents II - getting families involved in education early on (Elternchance II)" seeks to give professionals working in the field of family education and in early learning, care and education facilities (FBBE-Einrichtungen) the tools to work together with parents during the early childhood education stage, and advise parents with regard to their children's learning and developmental trajectory, everyday educational opportunities and transition points in the education system. It is aimed at professional in this field. The programme incorporates two projects and indirectly benefits young people. It is managed by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend).

The ESF-funded federal programmes are evaluated individually. In addition, subject-specific evaluations provide an insight into the federal programmes’ implementation as regards the ESF’s three overarching objectives. One of these evaluations will focus on the impact of the programmes on members of the immigrant community and younger persons, another on transnational measures.