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EACEA National Policies Platform


10. Youth work

10.2 Administration and governance of youth work

Last update: 4 April 2022
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Main actors

In current times youth work in Hungary appears to have three pillars, three organisational modes.

  1. Certain 'grassroots' youth communities can be identified on the local level and small scale.
  2. 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.
  3. And finally, there is the public infrastructure, mainly connected to the Elisabeth Youth Foundation Nonprofit Ltd. [(Erzsébet Ifjúsági Alap) referred hereinafter as EYF].

The EYF serves as methodological background for youth work or is related to the compulsory youth activities of the municipalities.

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. Similar to youth volunteering, 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 2022, the Minister heading the Prime Minister's Office (Miniszterelnökséget vezető miniszter) is responsible for youth policy and youth affairs. Sub-chapter 1.4 Youth policy decision-making specifies the structure.

Here we might add that the organisational and operational rules (Szervezeti és Működési Szabályzat) of the Prime Minister's Office (Miniszterelnökség) refers to youth work explicitly in one paragraph about the functional tasks of the Department for Youth Affairs. 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 responsibilities of the above-mentioned Minister.

However, other governmental actors are connected to certain relevant elements and appear in the cross-sectoral cooperations, but do not refer to youth work explicitly in their tasks.

In the Ministry of Human Capacities:

  • The State Secretariat for Public Education.

In the Prime Minister's Office:

  • Deputy State Secretary for Civil Society Relations,
  • Deputy State Secretariat for Coordination of the Development of Modern Cities and Villages.

In the Ministry for Innovation and Technology

  • State Secretariat for Knowledge and Innovation Management,
  • The Division for Developing the Digital Welfare Programme (under the Deputy State Secretary for Innovation),
  • The State Secretariat for EU Developments.

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.
Elisabeth Youth Foundation Nonprofit Ltd.

As mentioned above, the most important background organisation in the field of youth work is the Elisabeth Youth Foundation Nonprofit Ltd. (Erzsébet Ifjúsági Alap Nonprofit Kft.). The organisation was founded and is owned by the State of Hungary. As a successor of Mobilitás National Agency, the methodological background of youth work belongs to this institution.

According to its organisational and operational rules (Szervezeti és Működési Szabályzat), youth work belongs to the Directorate of Youth Profession Programmes [although the term of youth work is not used, the document refers to youth professional work (ifjúságszakmai munka)]. The related activities of the Directorate are the following (p. 12-13.):

  • preparation of new projects implemented by the Company,
  • monitoring the ongoing projects, supervision of professional tasks,
  • maintaining the results of the projects on the longer term by operating supportive tools and training system,
  • professional support to youth experts and organisations,
  • methodological support to municipal level youth professional work,
  • creating and maintaining databases of the youth profession,
  • coordination of cross-sectoral cooperation
  • operation of a national network
  • running a network of professional youth mentors
  • practical support for youth and/or volunteering organisations and for the youth-related task management of municipal governments
  • provide support to youth communities, community development.
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 (Tempus Közalapítvány). The Foundation itself 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 (feladataik) include:

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

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.

Digital Welfare Nonprofit Ltd.

Some of the digital aspects of youth work can be found in the Digital Welfare Strategy (Digitális Jólét Stratégia) of Hungary. The strategy is managed in the Digital Education Methodological Centre of the Digital Welfare Nonprofit Ltd. (Digitalis Jólét Nonprofit Kft.). Another division of this organisation, the Division for Digital Child Protection 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 Hungarian NIT). As an umbrella organisation of youth organisations, they engage in issues directly related to youth work practice. For example, they co-organised a conference with the European Youth Centre (Európai Ifjúsági Központ) on the topic of youth work in 2019, for the first time. In 2021, it was held in September (Ifjúsági Munka Konferencia). (For more information about National Youth Council see sub-chapter 5.3 Youth representation bodies).

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

'ISZOSZ, the Hungarian Association of Youth Service Providers 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.

Elizabeth for the Children of Carpathian Basin Foundation (Erzsébet a Kárpát-medencei Gyermekekért Alapítvány)

The Elizabeth Foundation [(Erzsébet Alapítvány) - not to be confused with the EYF; the Elizabeth for the Children of Carpathian Basin Foundation established the Elisabeth Youth Foundation] is in close cooperation with the government and is mostly known for organising children's camps. Besides these activities, their goals (céljaik) include the organisation of child- and youth protection programmes, as well as the organisation of 'social, cultural and other' events.

The program types (programtípusok) 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).
Federation of Children's and Youth Municipal Councils

Aiming mostly to develop the participation of young people in the local context, Federation of Children's and Youth Municipal Councils [Gyermek- és Ifjúsági Önkormányzati Társaság (hereinafter referred to as GYIÖT)] is not only build upon the methodology of youth work but is also engaged in mainstreaming it. As such, they have been members of projects (Projektek) (mostly funded by Erasmus+) explicitly aiming to develop local-level 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.

The most important strategic and methodological institution of youth work is the Elisabeth Youth Fund (Erzsébet Ifjúsági Alap). As the main source of funding for youth work [HRDOP-1.2.3-CCHOP-15-2015-00001: Complex Youth Developments (EFOP-1.2.3-VEKOP/15 - Komplex ifjúsági fejlesztések – Új Nemzedék Újratöltve)] has been administered by the EYF, the main directions were set by the latter in close cooperation with the State Secretariat for Family and Youth Affairs and from 2022, with the Minister heading the Prime Minister's Office (Miniszterelnökséget vezető miniszter).

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 (Déri, Gulyás, 2017).

On the municipal level, the role of youth officers 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 ('Ifjúsági referensek'):

  • youth assistance,
  • youth services and
  • programmes.

Harmonising the work of the youth officers is a general intention of both the Elisabeth Youth Foundation and the youth umbrella organisations. The Foundation organises meetings for them on a yearly basis. The 2021 national meeting (Országos találkozó 2021) took place in November and followed by regional online meetings.

Cross-sectoral cooperation

According to the information provided by the predecessor of the EYF, the New Generation Centre Nonprofit Ltd. in 2019, 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 platforms (or alternatively, youth work-related issues may appear in some specific subfields of education or other related policy fields).

In terms of formal cooperation, it is important to highlight the role of the EYF as an institution that organises conferences where youth sector actors can meet. According to the Department of Youth Affairs in 2021, the launch event of the national conference to promote sectoral and intersectoral cooperation took place in April 2019. This activity of the Elisabeth Youth Fund is a series of events of which the national conference was the first element. During the period 2020-2021, 39 intersectoral workshops and consultations were held to develop projects.

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 will be published in the second half of 2022 and presented at the national cross-sectoral conference in 2022.