4.8 Current debates and reforms
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Forthcoming policy developments
The coalition agreement (Koalitionsvertrag) for the 19th parliamentary term (as of 2017) foresees, among other items:
- the continued development of child and youth services legislation on the basis of the Act to strengthen protection for children and young people (Kinder- und Jugendstärkungsgesetz) projected during the previous parliamentary term. The idea is to create an effective support system that strengthens families and protects children from harm. In preparation for a new draft law, a broad dialogue is to be held with the involvement of researchers and practitioners in the field of child and youth services, disability services organisations, and representatives of the state and local level. The dialogue will also include a series of expert events such as a conference on the modernisation of Book Eight of the Social Code (“Die Modernisierung des SGB VIII”) on 26-27 November 2018 in Berlin. In addition, input from individuals with personal experience of child and youth services and family court will be collated and analysed systematically.
- the enshrinement of children’s rights in Germany’s Basic Law. To finalise the details, representatives of the federal and state level have formed a joint working group, which met for the first time on 6 June 2018. A proposal is set to be put forward by the end of 2019 at the latest. Various associations and institutions have published statements on this topic, including a position paper by the German Federal Youth Council (Deutscher Bundesjugendring) on enshrining children’s rights in the Basic Law (“Kinderrechte umfassend im Grundgesetz verankern”) dated 5-6 September 2018, and a position paper by the Child and Youth Welfare Organisation (Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Kinder- und Jugendhilfe) on the government’s impact on education and child-rearing (“Staat wirkt an Erziehung mit – und wirkt auf Erziehung ein”) dated 27-28 September 2018, which focuses on the relationship between children, parents and the government in the context of enshrining children’s rights in the Basic Law.
The dominant theme in Germany at the moment is the situation faced by refugee children and young people, especially minors who have come to Germany unaccompanied. The debate centres above all on the legal conditions surrounding support for them in the form of custody by the authorities. In 2017, half of the approximately 41 000 young people (14 to 18) who were taken into care were unaccompanied refugees. Articles on current questions and debates surrounding the topic of young refugees in the context of child and youth services can be found at the portal for specialists in child and youth services (Fachkräfteportal der Kinder- und Jugendhilfe).
Another much-debated issue is the radicalisation of youngsters. The context here is violent Islamismand right-wing extremism. For more information on programmes and initiatives see Strategy for the Social Inclusion of Young People > Existence of a national strategy on social inclusion > Strategies including all age groups: Strategy to prevent extremism and promote democracy and Initiatives Promoting Social Inclusion and Raising Awareness > Key initiatives to safeguard democracy against and prevent radicalisation which lead to violent extremism.