2.10 Current debates and reforms
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The Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend, BMFSFJ) plans to refine voluntary services. The new concept envisages the setting up of a youth voluntary year (Jugendfreiwilligenjahr) as an umbrella that comprises the further development of the existing voluntary services. Young people (under 27) will be entitled to support of all agreements within their voluntary service. The financial framework is to be improved through e.g. subsidising the ticket for public short-distance transport and introducing a standard payment of 402 euros for the volunteer. Additionally, the access to voluntary services is to be improved for disadvantaged and disabled persons. In 2019, 327 million euros were allocated in the federal budget for voluntary services, 65 million euros more than in 2018. In order to implement the Jugendfreiwilligenjahr concept a maximum amount of 1 billion euros per year would be needed.
The BMFSFJ is also planning to amend legislation in order to enable young people under the age of 27 to complete a part-time volunteer placement. On 14 March 2019 the bill passed to the first reading in the German parliament (Bundestag). It would involve an amendment to the Federal Volunteer Service Act (Bundesfreiwilligendienstgesetz) and the Act to Promote Youth Voluntary Services (Jugendfreiwilligendienstgesetz). The option to volunteer on a part-time basis would appeal above all to young people with families and children or relatives to care for, or individuals completing vocational training or gaining a qualification alongside their assignment.
On 7 April 2020 the BMFSFJ launched the online platform “Volunteers helping now” (“Freiwillige helfen jetzt”) in response to the fact that many volunteers are currently unable to be at their places of assignment due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The platform brings together young volunteers with non-profit organisations that are in need of help. The Green parliamentary party (Fraktion Bündnis 90/DIE GRÜNEN) filed a minor parliamentary question on the situation of young volunteers during the pandemic, to which the Federal Government has responded. .
In 2019, the pilot project FSJdigital, which was launched in 2015, was extended to include the youth voluntary services (Jugendfreiwilligendienste) Voluntary Social Year (Freiwilliges Soziales Jahr) and International Youth Voluntary Service (Internationaler Jugendfreiwilligendienst). The aim is to employ young volunteers’ digital expertise in the context of their work for non-profit organisations. Two projects are being funded as part of this venture: a series of training courses known as #freiwillig+digital and the network office “netzwärts – für Medienbildung im Freiwilligendienst”.
In April 2018, the Child and Youth Welfare Association (Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Kinder- und Jugendhilfe, AGJ) adopted a position paper that sets out the challenges and impulses relating to aligning the basic and advanced training courses and non-formal qualifications offered in the field of child and youth services with the German Qualifications Framework (Deutscher Qualifikationsrahmen).