System of social care


The regions are responsible for the regulation of the social work, so there is a wide range of regulations and there are no professional standards at the State level. They establish the conditions so that a person can use the title of Social Work that includes two professions: social workers and social educators. The history of the terms is clearly different and indeed the cradle of the Social pedagogy is Germany, however the terms are increasingly more juxtaposed and no distinction is made with the process of Bologna on the majority of universities and they form a joint title in social work. The instruction is performed in the "University of Applied Sciences". It should be pointed out that a great deal of the formation of the social work is in Social pedagogy, whereas the sozialpedagogues would be more focused on matters of management and the professional equivalence with other countries is confusing.

Almost two-thirds of graduates in social work are employed on private social services. In the public sector the 79% works at the municipal level, the 2% in the regions and just 1% in the central Government. Only 4% of the social work are involved in trade unions or professional organizations. The most important professional organization (DBSH) includes the two professions.

The structure of youth care

In Germany there is no such term as ‘youth care’. This is usually translated in English as child and youth services. This encompasses both youth work and youth welfare services. More specifically, this supports children and young people in their development and helps young adults in particularly difficult situations. Furthermore, it advises and supports parents and other guardians in educating their children. It also has to participate in proceedings held before guardianship or family courts. Furthermore, the missions is to protect children and adolescents from threats. It does so by prevention via education about potential sources of risk to child welfare and as well by interventions when such a risk has already occurred.

The national level

In Germany, several ministries are responsible for questions that could be relevant for children and young people or deal with support to them. This among other includes the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, the Federal Ministry of Health, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the Federal Ministry of Justice.

At the national level, the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth is responsible for central programmes of the Federal government’s children and youth policy and important youth policy interfaces with other policy areas.


  • it supports and sponsors national and interregional voluntary organizations of child and youth welfare in their diversity of values, contents, methods and working processes
  • it issues a KJP; Child and Youth Plan of the Federation which is a central instrument of child and youth support
  • it uses evaluations of model projects and their outcome to further develop child and youth services and sponsors independent experts to do research to provide information on the situation of young people in Germany. This includes the four-yearly Child and Youth Report
  • It has the lead responsibility for existing federal laws, such as the so called SGB VIII; Social Code, Book VIII – Child and Youth Services. This law will be discussed in more detail in the paragraph about the entitlement to care/ a duty to offer care as it contains the duties of child and youth services

Other administrative levels

The Federal Republic of Germany consists of 16 federal states.

They are responsible for all their internal administration and for the implementation of most federal laws and regulations.

    Regarding child and youth services, all states have to set a Youth Office of the Land that:
  • support the local child and youth service providers by advice and further training
  • give financial support to the bodies and organizations that are responsible for child and youth services with the objective of further developing and evenly balancing the expansion of provision
  • are involved in the protection of children and young people in institutions

The SGB VIII gives the overall responsibility for child and youth services to the administrative districts (counties) and towns which are administrative districts in their own right. According to the same law providers of statutory youth services are determined by state law.

    The Youth office consists of two parts:
  1. the administration that carries out the resolutions and laws
  2. the Youth Service Committee, which can be considered to the part that locally exercises the management function of the child and youth services. This committee consists of representatives of youth and welfare organizations, associations, religious communities and the local council
    It deals with all matters of child and youth welfare, in particular with:
  • youth service planning
  • the funding of non-statutory/ voluntary youth service providers
    Its responsibilities are as follows:
  • The taking into care of children and young people. This means temporary accommodation with a suitable person, either in a facility or in some other supervised form of accommodation
  • The removal of a child or young person from a residential environment
  • Participation in proceedings held before guardianship or family courts
  • Giving counsel and instruction in proceedings regarding the adoption of the child
  • Participating in proceedings according to the Juvenile Courts Act
  • Advising and supporting carers and guardians
  • Official guardianship, assistance and supervisory co-guardianship of the Youth Office

Social services have tended in recent years to go gradually setting as a true public service. The concept of public service and public responsibility is generally used although the autonomous laws clearly mark this trend.

The Autonomous Communities have designed and implemented a social services model with a specific content and it is structured in two levels of intervention, in which are involved the different administrations and the social initiative. In Cantabria it is called ICASS (Institute of Social Services in Cantabria)

Its purpose is to promote the social well-being of individuals and the population.

    Among its objectives are:
  • the promotion of personal autonomy
  • the attention of situations of vulnerability
  • the social integration of individuals and groups

Areas of action of the public system of social services:

By population groups:

  • Infancy
  • Youth
  • Elderly
  • Women
  • Migrations
  • Ethnic minority
  • Prisioner and ex-prisioners

For situations or specific needs:

  • Handicapped
  • Homeless
  • Drug addicts
    For the attainment of these objectives, social services are planned by two different ways:
  1. Comunitary Social Services (also called: basic, first level, general... depending on the Region)
  2. Specialized Social Services (Specific, Secondary level, specialized attention... depending on the Region as well)

Organizational models and equipment

Within the primary intervention level the basic equipment is the centre of social services.

The professional team is working with diverse realities. Its composition and number is variable but the presence of the Social worker is constant considered a "key piece". Social educators, psychologists, family workers, monitors and socio-cultural animators make up the rest of the team.

In terms of the organizational structure as we have already mentioned above, under the influence of factors such as the size or the municipal dispersion, financial capacity and technique or situations of need covered, it can be designed different organizational formulas synthesized by some authors in three models: centralized, decentralized, and pooled.

Centres of social services include certain territorial boundaries or areas of Social work and depending on the model concerned they may have lower units (Social work units).

We can find a wide variety of specialized equipment although there is not a unanimous delimitation but giving priority to the sectorial criteria. Specialized equipment tend to be implemented depending on the needs of each area.

Public system of support for youth in Cantabria

ICASS provides services aimed at the protection of children and adolescents. All of the services listed hereafter are managed by the “Children, adolescents and families service”.

    Referring to them which are publicly guaranteed we can speak about:
  • Family mediation service
  • Childhood and adolescence centre day service
  • Foster care service in families and residences.
  • Therapeutic and rehabilitative intervention service
  • Adaption service
  • Providing economic support to emancipation
  • Economic benefit to hosting individuals and/or families.
    On the other hand there are additional services but not guaranteed. Some of them are:
  • Meeting point service
  • Emancipation support service
  • Day centre services for offenders adolescent

An obligation to support young people at risk of social exclusion in Poland rests with local government units in cooperation with local communities, the courts and their subsidiary bodies, educational institutions and NGOs.

Commune* based support system for the youth at risk of social exclusion involves primarily prevention efforts in the living environment, consisting in the undertaking of early social intervention by social services and properly oriented education at local level. Adequate social intervention and education implies the provision of such skills that will help the disadvantaged youth coping with the crisis of adolescence in an adaptative and developmental way and protect them from marginalization. The idea is that social services address their activities to young people in order to facilitate their independence, which is reflected in their performance of functional roles inside their families and at school, participation in labor market and active citizenship, including involvement in the life of their local communities.

*commune - the smallest territorial units administrative units

    These activities are carried out through:
  • family assistantship (work of family assistants)
  • Daily support facilities
  • supportive families
  • other entities or institutions acting for the sake of children the youth and families

County* based support system for the youth at risk of social exclusion is responsible for familial and institutional foster/respite care and for building the independence of foster children/youth.

*several communes constitute a county

    It's responsibilities are as follows:
  • Organization of family foster care
  • Organization and running children’s homes
  • Keeping childcare centers
  • Providing assistance for supportive families

Social professions at the local level of Polish system of social care, on which the quality of life of young people will depend are the following:

  1. Social Worker - a professional who organises help for individuals, families, social groups in the recovery or strengthening their ability to function in society; offers counseling on social and other related issues enabling their recipients to find and use resources to overcome difficulties in achieving individual goals.

  2. Family assistant - the role of the assistant is to actively support families raising children, who find it difficult in to overcome problems by themselves. Their role consist in helping parents apply for full recovery of parental authority, as long as it is reasonable. Assistants aim to achieve a basic level of family-life stability which allows raising children. Family assistantship supposed to be run complementary to other forms of family support (eg. Social work, financial support, therapy), according to the current situation of the family and the effects assumed.

  3. Probation officer - the responsibility of a probation officer is to implement the tasks of an educational and rehabilitative, diagnostic, preventive and control nature, that the professional performs in the area of implementation of the courts' judgments.

  4. School Pedagogue - specific tasks of school pedagogue includes among others making periodic analysis of the educational situation, provision of educational advice to parents, helping teachers in solving educational problems, organizing help aimed at eliminating school failures and developmental disorders, arranging childcare for neglected and abandoned pupils, assistance in choosing the field of further education and occupation.

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