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EACEA National Policies Platform


10. Youth work

10.2 Administration and governance of youth work

Last update: 28 November 2023
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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.
  • And finally, there is the public infrastructure, which is now coordinated by the Deputy State Secretariat for Youth Affairs in the Ministry for 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. [(Erzsébet Ifjúsági Alap) referred hereinafter as EYF].

According to Ministry information in 2022, an alternative organisational background that serves similar aims as EYF can only be established once the 2021-2027 EU budgetary sources are accessible.

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 2023, the Deputy State Secretariat for Youth Affairs, under the State Secretariat for Families in the Ministry for 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 for Culture and Innovation refers to youth work explicitly in one paragraph about the functional tasks of the Department of 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 Deputy State Secretariat for Youth Affairs.

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,
  • Department for the Development of Modern Municipalities Programme.

In the Ministry for Culture and Innovation:

  • State Secretary Responsible for Innovation and Higher Education.

In the Ministry for Regional Development:

  • a ministerial representative whose task is to formulate proposals to ensure that developments contribute to improving the quality of life and living conditions of young people. (For more information on this role, see sub-chapter 1.4 Youth policy decision-making specifies the structure.)

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

As mentioned above, the most important background organisation in the field of youth work was 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 belonged to this institution.

The Elisabeth Youth Foundation implemented and managed EU-funded youth projects in the 2014-2020 EU budget cycle. For some of the outputs of these projects (e.g. information websites), the foundation has a five-year maintenance commitment. Other result products (e.g. training) have no such obligation and have been closed. The responsibility of youth-related public tasks remains in the Deputy State Secretariat for Youth Affairs in the Ministry of Culture and Innovation, which continues to carry out this task through the existing programmes and forms of support.

A wide range of organisations and institutions in the country provide youth services with different funding backgrounds. The need for an alternative organisational framework such as EYF, according to the Ministry information in 2022, can be decided once a decision has been taken on the use of resources for the 2021-2027 EU budget cycle.

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 (Tempus Közalapítvány, SZMSZ).

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 (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 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

The Hungarian Association of Youth Service Provdiers [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 for the Children of Carpathian Basin Foundation

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 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 ('Az alapítvány célja'). 

The program 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) ('Feladatok, tevékenységek').
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 built upon the methodology of youth work but is also engaged in mainstreaming it. As such, they have been members of projects (mostly funded by Erasmus+) explicitly aiming to develop local-level youth work ('Projektek').

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 (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 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, according to the information provided by the predecessor of the EYF, the New Generation Centre Nonprofit Ltd. in 2019. 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).

In terms of formal cooperation, EYF organized conferences where youth sector actors could 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 ('Ágazati és ágazatközi jó gyakorlatok gyűjteménye').