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EACEA National Policies Platform


10. Youth work

10.2 Administration and governance of youth work

Last update: 3 April 2024
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Main actors

In current times youth work in Hungary has three pillars, three organisational modes.

  • Certain 'grassroots' youth communities can be identified on the local level and small scale.
  • There are NGOs and civil organisations (including the scouting movement and other religious youth organisations) active in the field. These are usually project-funded by the central government or (mostly) by EU grants.
  • Finally, there is the public infrastructure, which is now coordinated by the Deputy State Secretariat for Young People in the Ministry of Culture and Innovation. Until 2021 (with some programmes finishing in 2022) the main methodological and financial support was connected to Elisabeth Youth Foundation Nonprofit Ltd. but it was terminated in 2023.

According to Ministry information in 2023, currently the financial conditions are not in place for the creation of an institution fulfilling the function of Elisabeth Youth Foundation.

As youth work traditionally had many connections to community culture, some integrated community service spaces can be considered as key institutions carrying out local youth work.

Public Actors

Youth work is rarely named as a specific objective of government bodies. The government structure does not specify youth work, but since the main responsible body is under the same organisational unit with youth policy, an integrated approach is assumed. As of 2024, the Deputy State Secretariat for Young People, under the State Secretariat for Families in the Ministry of Culture and Innovation (Kulturális és Innovációs Minisztérium) is responsible for youth policy and youth affairs. Sub-chapter 1.4 Youth policy decision-making specifies the structure.

The organisational and operational rules of the Ministry of Culture and Innovation refers to youth work explicitly in one paragraph about the functional tasks of the Department of Young People. According to this, the Department

'prepares methodological developments and activities, in particular to develop local youth work, increase the capacity of youth organisations and service providers, and develop young people's social activity.'

An institutionalised approach to youth work can only be found in the Deputy State Secretariat for Young People.

However, other governmental actors are connected to and appear in the cross-sectoral cooperation, but do not refer to youth work explicitly in their tasks. In the Ministry of Interior the State Secretariat Responsible for Public Education, in the Prime Minister's Office the Government Commissioner and in the Ministry of Culture and Innovation the State Secretary Responsible for Innovation and Higher Education participate in the cooperation.

The connections of the above-mentioned government bodies to youth work are through

  • education, related to the educational aspects of youth work,
  • volunteering and
  • strengthening local youth communities to prevent outbound migration.
Tempus Public Foundation

Another key public stakeholder in the field of youth work is the Erasmus+ Youth Unit of the Erasmus+ Programme Office of Tempus Public Foundation. The Foundation is

'a non-profit organisation established in 1996 by the Hungarian Government, with the task of managing international cooperation programmes and special projects in the field of education, training and EU-related issues.'

The Youth Unit is responsible for the coordination of the youth chapter of Erasmus+. Their tasks include:

  • tendering,
  • reviewing applications,
  • monitoring,
  • evaluation and
  • dissemination, as well as
  • participation in international cooperation.

One of the flagship youth work-related projects where the unit has been involved in the field of youth work is the Europe Goes Local project.

Governmental Information-Technology Development Agency

Some of the digital aspects of youth work (such as digital competence development, supporting intergenerational knowledge transfers and digital sport) can be found in the Digital Welfare Strategy (Digitális Jólét Stratégia) of Hungary. The strategy was managed by the Digital Welfare Nonprofit Ltd. (Digitalis Jólét Nonprofit Kft.). 

In 2023, its roles were taken over by the Governmental Information-Technology Development Agency [(Kormányzati Informatikai Fejlesztési Ügynökség, (KIFÜ)] and most of the projects related to the strategy finished. The Office of Digital Child Protection in KIFÜ coordinates the implementation of the Digital Child Protection Strategy (Digitális Gyermekvédelmi Stratégia).

The role of public education

Public education plays an essential supplementary role in the infrastructure of youth policy. As such, elements related to the objectives of youth work can also be found. Sub-chapter 7.6 Mechanisms of early detection and signposting of young people facing health risks describes the roles and responsibilities of the child and youth protection officer. The optional position of the leisure time organiser [szabadidő-szervező] could be mentioned. Leisure time organisers, together with the pedagogical assistants, are responsible for organising the leisure time activities in schools. In addition, school student councils (see sub-chapter 5.3 Youth representation bodies) can also be interpreted primarily as organisers of programmes.

Non-public actors
National Youth Council

One of the key actors in connecting different stakeholders of youth work is the National Youth Council [Nemzeti Ifjúsági Tanács (hereinafter referred to as in NIT). As an umbrella organisation of youth organisations, they engage in issues directly related to youth work practice. They co-organises conferences with the European Youth Centre (Európai Ifjúsági Központ) on the topic of youth work since 2019. In 2023, the fifth conference was held with the professional support of Tempus Public Foundation and GYIÖT. (For more information about National Youth Council see sub-chapter 5.3 Youth representation bodies).

Hungarian Association of Youth Service Providers

The Hungarian Association of Youth Service Providers [Ifjúsági Szolgáltatók Országos Szövetsége (hereinafter referred to as ISZOSZ)]

'was founded in 2011 as an umbrella organisation of professionals and organisations dealing with youth service.

Goals are to support the quality development of domestic youth services; to provide professional assistance and basic background for youth organisations and professionals working with youth service and to organise meetings and professional training - supporting youth service work processes and knowledge transfer.'

ISZOSZ aims to facilitate and organise youth work; as such, they have been arranging training to foster intergenerational transfers in youth work practice. Their most relevant contribution to policies in the field of youth work is on the local level: they provide methodological support for local youth service providers. Besides, they have been delegating experts to committees and organizations with a key role in youth work.

Elizabeth Foundation

The Elizabeth Foundation (Erzsébet Alapítvány) is in close cooperation with the government and is mostly known for organising children's camps. Besides these activities, their goals include the organisation of child- and youth protection programmes, as well as the organisation of 'social, cultural and other' events. Besides these tasks the Foundation does not have any relations to policy making. 

The programme types arranged by the Foundation are the following: 

  • 3-day class excursions,
  • 6-day summer adventure camps,
  • 6-day camps for children with special needs,
  • daytime summer camps (carried out at the place of residence of participants),
  • Elizabeth Christmas (cultural and entertainment programmes in Budapest for disadvantaged children).

GYIÖT is an umbrella organisation of the local children's and youth municipal councils (their name is under change - that is why only the abbreviation is used). Its members are youth professionals and youth workers. The aim of their activities is to increase the participation of young people (through the methods and approaches of youth work), to further develop the Hungarian youth profession and to improve its visibility and recognition, both nationally and internationally. In this sense, GYIÖT has been a member of projects (mostly funded by Erasmus+) explicitly aiming at the development of youth work at local and national level. In 2023 GYIÖT conducted a study on youth workers and youth professionals. (For more information on the study, see sub-chapter 10.4 Quality and innovation in youth work.)

The general distribution of responsibilities

Top-level authorities are primarily responsible for comprehensive strategic planning, distribution of resources according to the objectives, mentioned above and providing methodological support.

Youth policy at the municipal level appears as a compulsory task, but there are no budgetary allocations associated with it. Therefore, the approach of local authorities to youth work is very different.

On the municipal level, the role of youth officers ('ifjúsági referensek') can be underlined. As the office is not compulsory, and there are no official guidelines on it, interpretations and implementations differ. However, the general understating of the role, developed by the former Mobilitás National Agency, states that in addition to their tasks of coordinating public administration, youth officers may submit proposals regarding:

  • youth assistance,
  • youth services and
  • programmes.

Harmonising the work of the youth officers has been a general intention of both the Elisabeth Youth Foundation and the youth umbrella organisations. The Foundation organised meetings for them on a yearly basis.

Cross-sectoral cooperation

Collaborations in the youth sector often happen at the local level and/or concerning certain programmes or projects. Thus, they do not have an impact at the central level. It should also be noted that youth work as such does not have its own platform, but is embedded in more general youth policy fields (or alternatively, youth work-related issues may appear in some specific subfields of education or other related policy areas).

As far as informal cooperation is concerned, conferences and other events organised by the National Youth Council, GYIÖT and other youth work NGOs provide a space for youth sector actors to meet.

As a result, a number of local and regional developments and programmes have been implemented, as well as cooperation with various regional forums and round tables. A publication summarising the process of cross-sectoral collaboration and showcasing good practises that have emerged from the collaboration was published in 2022.