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EACEA National Policies Platform


5. Participation

5.6 Supporting youth organisations

Last update: 28 November 2023
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  1. Legal/policy framework for the functioning and development of youth organisations
  2. Public financial support
  3. Initiatives to increase the diversity of participants

Legal/policy framework for the functioning and development of youth organisations

Book 8 of the Social Code (Sozialgesetzbuch Achtes Buch, SGB VIII) provides the basis for structural support and project funding in connection with youth (association) work and other areas of child and youth services. Section 12 of SGB VIII addresses funding for youth organisations and their independent activities. It says that youth work which is organised and implemented jointly by young people and for which they share responsibility is to receive funding. The goal is to fund independent child and youth services organisations in accordance with Section 74 SGB VIII, which says that independent youth services organisations should receive funding if they meet the professional requirements for the planned project and ensure compliance with the principles and standards of quality development and quality assurance in accordance with Section 79a. Additionally, they must ensure that funding is used efficiently, for the intended purpose and to pursue charitable goals. Organisations must also make an adequate own contribution and ensure that their work supports the objectives of the Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany (Grundgesetz, GG). To receive permanent funding, an organisation must be recognised as an independent youth services organisation in accordance with Section 75 SGB VIII.

On a regional (Länder) level, the implementation acts to SGB VIII provide the basis for structural support and project funding in youth (association) work and other areas of child and youth services.

Public financial support

The federal government funds and provides stimulus for child and youth services on a national level with its Child and Youth Plan (Kinder- und Jugendplan, KJP) on the basis of Book 8 of the Social Code (Sozialgesetzbuch Achtes Buch, SGB VIII). KJP is part of the government's child and youth policy focus (chapter 1702 in Section 17 of the federal budget), which in 2020 has financing of around 1,491 million euros (2018: 1,076 million euros). In 2020, the KJP accounts for around 219 million euros (2018: 199 million euros).

Regional youth organisations as representatives of the interests of children and young people, as well as individual projects and youth facilities in local communities and in child and youth services organisations, are funded from the corresponding so-called regional youth plans (Landesjugendpläne) – regional budgets for youth planning – and from community resources. The amount allocated for youth organisations and their activities varies from federal state to federal state. For examples please see Youth Policy Governance > Funding Youth Policy


Initiatives to increase the diversity of participants

The 15th Child and Youth Report (15. Kinder- und Jugendbericht) identifies inclusion and participation by young people as one of child and youth work's biggest challenges.

As part of the reform of Book 8 of the Social Code (SGB VIII) in summer 2021 and the inclusion of young people with disabilities as a key professional principle of child and youth welfare, the regulations for child and youth work were also supplemented. Child and youth work should now explicitly “ensure the accessibility and usability of services for young people with disabilities” (Section 1 (1)(3) of Book 8 of the Social Code (SGB VIII).

Various initiatives, projects, reports, conferences and so on exist with the goal of establishing diversity-aware, intercultural openness in youth organisations in mind. Examples:

The network for intercultural youth organisation work and research (Netzwerk interkultureller Jugendverbandsarbeit und -forschung, NiJaF) was created in 2005 and meets twice a year. The Information and Documentation Centre for Anti-Racism Work (Informations- und Dokumentationszentrum für Antirassismusarbeit, IDA) coordinates the network. Main activities: Supporting youth associations as they work to establish intercultural openness, supporting projects and strategies with the same aim, and promoting the critical exchange of professional opinions in this field. Since 2015, an additional topic has been collaboration with and the participation of young refugees in youth association work.

The German Federal Youth Council (Deutscher Bundesjugendring, DBJR) helps and funds children and young people with migration histories in the context of (including as volunteers) associations and independent organisations of young migrants. DBJR is also committed to promoting inclusion in youth associations and making them places where young people take part in democratic life. The wide variety of youth associations in existence reflects the broad spectrum of young people's interests and engagement activities: They range from religious, green and cultural associations to young workers and guide/scout associations, humanitarian organisations and migrant youth organisations. The DBJR's Main Committee adopted the following position in Berlin on 31 May 2017.

The network for diversity-conscious youth and educational work (Netzwerk für DIVErsitätsbewusste Jugend- und Bildungsarbeit) originated from the sub-initiative "Diversity-conscious international youth work" (Diversitätsbewusste internationale Jugendarbeit) of the JiVE project (International youth work – experiencing diversity [Jugendarbeit international – Vielfalt erleben]). The network aimed to give as many young people as possible access to social resources and enable their participation.

From 2017 to 2019 the innovation fund (Innovationsfonds) funded four projects for young refugees in youth associations from the budget of the Child and Youth Plan of the Federal Government (Kinder- und Jugendplan des Bundes, KJP). The projects created lasting opportunities for young refugees to contact and meet other young people, and identified and removed some of the obstacles they faced. They also communicated the principles of youth work and youth association work to young people. One of these projects on helping young refugees to become independent (Jung, geflüchtet, selbstbestimmt) is still active and continues to support youth associations and youth training centres in Berlin who work with young refugees.

A study by the Federal Association of Cultural Youth Education (Bundesvereinigung Kulturelle Kinder- und Jugendbildung, BKJ) uses real-world projects to show how society can support and implement inclusion. It also makes recommendations on removing barriers of all kinds. Eight projects have proved that cultural education can help to prevent social exclusion and discrimination for everyone. BKJ guided the projects from 2017 to 2019 as part of the innovation fund for cultural education (Innovationsfonds Kulturelle Bildung) of the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend, BMFSFJ).

In August 2016, the Regional Youth Council of Brandenburg (Landesjugendring Brandenburg) established the Perspectives Agency (Fachstelle 'Perspektiven'). It offers counselling, information and training on topics including intercultural openness, inter-culturalism, migration, refugee and asylum issues to youth-led migrant organisations and youth associations.

The "We live diversity" (Vielfalt – wir leben sie!) project run by the Open Doors Association of North Rhine-Westphalia (Arbeitsgemeinschaft Offene Türen NRW, AGOT NRW) is now in its fifth year. In 2020 it is supporting 130 projects from North Rhine-Westphalia as "profile projects". The projects focus on: supporting young girls, putting participation into practice, establishing identity, and providing space. AGOT NRW will use the project outcomes to identify diversity-oriented education tools for open-door child and youth work. This will help address the challenge of finding a common "we" whilst taking the identity, experiences and individual constructs of the "other" into consideration.

The charity Aktion Mensch supports a project called "Inclusion – consider it done!" (Inklusion – geht klar!) run by the Bavarian Youth Council (Bayerischer Jugendring, BJR) offering help with developing and testing inclusive training opportunities in youth work. The project aims to anchor participation by young people with disability in youth work. It runs for three years (December 2019 to 2022) and has three key areas: youth leader training, in-house training, and inclusion advisor training.