10.3 Support to youth work
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There is no national youth work strategy, nor youth strategy that would include youth work as a theme. Also, there is no specific law that regulates youth work as such. As the sector is very diverse, different branches of ‘youth work’ in Poland may face different regulations, or lack of these. The only national level “regulation” is a description of a profession of youth worker, which suggests that such activities are related to free time organization, educational and prevention/socio-therapeutic activities, mostly directed at marginalized youth, or youth at risk of social exclusion (see point 10.5). Similar approach is visible in the concept of Day Care Centers. Their functioning is based on the 2011 Law on supporting family and the foster care system. The families that have children in school-age, especially those families that have troubles in taking care of their children, might need support in organizing their children free time, dealing with school difficulties, or unwanted behaviour. The access to the day care centers, that would support families, should be accessible not only those children that are directed by the social services, but also those directed by their guardians/parents. The Day Care Centers guarantees to a child (usually between 6-19 years old): 1) care and upbringing; 2) help in school duties; 3) organization of free time, fun and sport and hobby development. In 2021, beyond 60% of ‘regular’ Day Care Centers, there existed as well specialist Day Care Centers (21%), which additionally are aimed as well as at sociotherapy, correctional activities and programmes, and streetwork activities (19%), also of sociotherapeutic character. Some children may by be directed to participate in activities of Day Care Centers by a court decision.
The legal framework for functioning of youth organisations is described in 5.6 Supporting youth organisations.
It is difficult to track the overall budget for youth work due to scattered character of the sector. In general the funding may come from the central budget or from the local government expenditures beyond European or private funding. Below the examples of some sources of public funding for youth work programmes and activities:
- In 2021, 31 500 children have participated in the activity of 2061 day care centers led by local government (gmina) and 57 led by regional government (powiat). The cost of this activity was: 235 463 000 PLN (centers by local government) and 107 639 000 PLN (other).
- Youth organisations: All non-profit organizations in Poland (as well as sport clubs, religious organisations and others), so as well those directed to young people or led by them, can apply for funding through The National Freedom Institute – Centre for Civil Society Development (see more in 5.6 “Supporting youth organisations”). The Center gives funding for the development of Solidarity Corps (a long-term volunteering programme), the Civil Society Organisations Development Programme, and The Civil Initiatives Fund which is a government grant programme for non-governmental organisations, under which projects aimed at increasing the involvement of citizens and non-governmental organisations in public life are subsidised (for 2021, New Civil Initiatives Fund). For examples, the New Civil Initiatives Fund allocates 80 mln PLN each year for supporting civic organisations (in 2022, 389 proposals received funding) . Additionally, the Youth Fund was created in 2022, with a budget of 230 mln PLN for 2022-2033. In 2022, 128 proposals from youth organisations were accepted for funding. For 2023, 20 mln PLN is planned for supporting youth organisations and youth councils.
- Scout movement: the Scout Movement Development Governmental Programme (Program Wspierania Harcerstwa) for 2018-2030: the yearly amount of the fund is 15 mln PLN.
- Sport clubs: Programme CLUB: 41 mln PLN in 2019 (directed to about 3700 small and medium-size sport clubs), while in 2022 – 66,5 mln PLN. In 2021, the programme supported 5172 sport clubs.
The EU funding is a very popular and desired source of funding, used by non-governmental organisations as well as other institutions that work with young people. European funding is also used at the local government level to support youth work. Erasmus+ is another popular source of funding for youth organisations, including funding for youth exchanges, international cooperation, but also youth workers may participate in the Youth Action 1. Mobility of youth workers.