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EACEA National Policies Platform


10. Youth work

10.3 Support to youth work

Last update: 4 July 2024
Policy legal framework

Youth work in Latvia is an autonomous function of the municipalities. According to the Youth Law, municipalities, in performing their functions, conduct youth work in accordance with the fundamental principles of youth policy and the national youth policy development planning documents. Municipalities plan youth work by developing municipal youth policy development planning documents. Municipalities ensure an institutional system for youth work. When establishing an institutional system for youth work, municipalities are entitled to:

  • designate the municipal institution responsible for youth work;
  • employ a youth affairs specialist—a person who plans, conducts, and coordinates youth work;
  • establish a youth affairs advisory commission to promote the planning and implementation of municipal youth work, as well as youth participation in decision-making;
  • create a youth center aimed at promoting the initiatives of municipal youth, their participation in decision-making, and in public life;
  • establish a youth council to facilitate cooperation, exchange of experiences, and initiatives among municipal youth in youth work;
  • establish other procedures for conducting youth work.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education and Science ensures the development of a unified national policy in the youth policy sector and its coordinated implementation, thereby maintaining a system of measures for youth work.

The main tasks of youth work at the national level are also defined in the Youth Law:

  • to support and promote youth initiatives by creating favorable conditions for their intellectual and creative development;
  • to provide young people with the opportunity to acquire the skills, knowledge, and competencies necessary for life through non-formal education;
  • to ensure that young people have the opportunity to use their free time effectively;
  • to ensure that young people have access to information appropriate to their developmental needs.

At the national level, there is no separate planning document to support youth work. The current youth policy planning document Guidelines for the Development of Children, Youth, and Families 2022-2027 and the associated Youth Policy Implementation Plan for 2023-2024 include an action direction "Establishment and Development of a Quality and Sustainable Youth Work System," which envisages the following operational results:

  1. Opportunities for young people to learn informally and develop their initiatives are provided.
  2. Recognition and prestige of youth work are promoted.
  3. Professional competence of youth workers is enhanced.
  4. Youth participation in EU programs and projects is facilitated.
  5. The digital and mobile youth work system is developed.
  6. Work with diaspora youth is strengthened.

To achieve these results during the period from 2022 to 2027, the following tasks are planned:

  • Strengthen youth work at the municipal level to ensure that all young people, including those from rural areas, have opportunities to learn informally and develop their initiatives, as well as to promote the effective use of free time.
  • Promote the recognition and prestige of youth work, including establishing a mechanism for recognizing competencies acquired in non-formal education within the youth sector.
  • Enhance the professional competencies of youth workers, including improving higher education opportunities for youth workers, as well as promoting cooperation and the exchange of best practices among youth sector professionals.
  • Facilitate youth and youth workers' access to and participation in European Union and other youth support programs and projects.
  • Develop a sustainable financing model for the implementation of youth work at the state, municipal, and non-governmental organization levels, including evaluating the effectiveness of current financial planning and coordination.
  • Develop the digital youth work system, as well as promote the development of mobile youth work in municipalities, including providing methodological support to ensure equal opportunities for all young people, including those living further from service centers.
  • Ensure that individuals involved in youth work have access to systematic professional support, promoting the retention of youth workers in the sector.
  • Strengthen work with diaspora youth by establishing a support mechanism.



National level

The main responsible institution for the annual National Youth Programme funding is the Ministry of Education and Science. The National Youth Programme provides yearly support to local authorities, municipalities, and youth organisations. The National Youth Agency is in charge of this process. Any additional funding available to the youth field from other ministries and institutions is directly managed by each institution.

Regional and local level

The municipal budget allocation for youth differs according to the availability of funding in each municipality. There is no estimated amount known, as no survey has been carried out to calculate the amount that is allocated in the field of youth at the municipal level. It is also very complicated to collect financing data as there is no particular methodology as to what budget lines should or should not be considered as relating to youth work (especially regarding the education, culture, and sports fields).

International funding

Whereas the state funding for the youth field is rather small, opportunities for international funding are crucial for the development of youth work in Latvia. International financing for the youth field in Latvia is coordinated by the State Agency for International Programmes for Youth. The most significant sources of international funding are "Erasmus+: Youth in Action"; the Latvian-Switzerland co-operation programme (ended in 2017); and the European Union funds for the programming period 2021-2027.


The Youth Law defines – the Ministry of Education and Science ensures the development of a single national policy in the youth field and its coordinated implementation, including the cooperation of involved institutions in the implementation of the youth policy. The development and the implementation of the coherent youth policy and the participation of young people in decision-making and in public life is facilitated by the Youth Advisory Council – an advisory body established by the Cabinet of Ministers, comprising delegated representatives of public administration, local governments, and youth organisations. However, in everyday practice the youth policy is decentralised in Latvia – each of the involved institutions is co-ordinating the activities of the specific area, but the Ministry of Education and Science defines the overall objectives and actions to be achieved. Line ministries and subordinate institutions define and implement sectoral policies (health – the Ministry of Health, social affairs – the Ministry of Welfare, employment – the State Employment Agency, etc.). The implementation of Latvian, the European Union, and other international programmes, projects and initiatives for youth work is provided by the Agency for the International Programmes for Youth (under the authority of the Ministry of Education and Science). The Agency gives young people the opportunity to elaborate projects, disseminates interesting and useful information to young people about their opportunities, facilitates exchanges of experience and provides advice on project writing. The everyday practical work with young people is carried out by local governments, setting up an institutional framework for the youth work at the local level – appointing a responsible institution, recruiting youth affairs specialists and other employees, establishing a youth centre and performing other activities. 

In Latvia, different line ministries offer different welfare and social services for young people within their field of competence via the agencies and institutions assigned to them. The main actors and their competencies are the following:

1) The Ministry of Welfare develops youth-friendly state policies in the sphere of social services and social assistance, oversees their implementation and ensures support to unemployed young people and job seekers by organising active employment activities.

2) The Ministry of Justice is the leading state administration institution covering legal issues. It co-ordinates the public registers, the state policy on the penal system and criminal punishment, and the implementation of these policies. The State Probation Service is subordinated to the Ministry of Justice, and it organises forced labour and public work for minors, as well as assistance to the youth after they have served their sentence.

3) The Ministry of Health ensures health care for the youth and promotes the development of a youth-friendly health care service.

Although based on the interdisciplinary approach, several and various national, regional and local level institutions are involved in youth work, yet the co-ordinated action among these institutions is still a big challenge in Latvia. Each institution performs activities within their competence; only in rare cases are activities consulted on and co-ordinated with other institutions.