10.3 Support to youth work
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Policy legal framework
The Department of Policy Initiatives and Development within the Ministry of Education and Science (MoES) is primarily responsible for youth policy and issues. Its major tasks include promoting cooperation, implementing youth measures, organizing training for youth workers, and enabling access to information. Municipalities take responsibility for implementing youth policy through the creation of local youth policy planning documents. A Youth Advisory Council exists to promote a coherent youth policy and encourage youth participation in decision-making and public life.
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).
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 2014-2020.
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.