The Youth Welfare office may visit you after the birth of your child. Such visit is called "early help", and its purpose is to prevent the parents' overburdening by the parenting chores. That means you can ask the visiting Youth Welfare Office staff questions about child care and benefit from their advice. The Youth Welfare Office can also introduce you a midwife or a paediatric nurse before birth. If you are a single parent, in particular, counselling from the youth welfare office can protect you from overstressing. The Youth Welfare Office can also advise you on child care centres. Currently, it can be pretty difficult to find a vacancy in day care centres or kindergartens. For help, you can contact your local youth welfare office.
Youth Welfare Office
What are the tasks of the "Jugendamt"?
All the children in Germany have the right to grow in health and safety. It is the Youth Welfare Office's responsibility to ensure the children benefit from this right. After the birth of a child, the Youth Welfare Office assists parents in dealing with the situation and help them search for childcare service. The Youth Welfare Office is also tasked with providing enough playgrounds and youth centres in the cities and towns. It provides support in job-hunting, especially to the youngsters who did not succeed in finishing the high school. Besides, the Youth Welfare Office offers you counselling in the cases of divorce. If a parent fails to pay child support after the divorce, the Youth Welfare Office can make a maintenance advance to support the child.
Only when the parents are overwhelmed with parenting or in case they put their children in danger, the youth welfare office will step in to protect the child. As an institution in charge of children's well-being, the Youth Welfare Office represents the children in court and may deprive parents of their parental care rights. Then the child is taken to a foster family or a children's home. If you, as a parent, believe that you are overwhelmed with parenting, you can go to the Youth Welfare Office and discuss the possibility of adoption for your child.
There are Youth Welfare Offices in every city and county in Germany. Sometimes it is called "Department of Youth" ("Fachbereich Jugend") or "Department of Family"("Fachbereich Familie"). The Youth Welfare Office’s work is based on the Children and Youth Protection Act (Seventh Book of Social Law). It is responsible for all children in Germany, irrespective of their nationality or residence status.
Tasks of the Youth Welfare Office
Early assistance and childcare
Separation, Divorce and Legal Aid
Social, occupational and legal support for minors
In the major cities, in particular, the Youth Welfare Offices are overloaded and due to slow bureaucratic processes often cannot offer assistance quick enough. An alternative to such counselling could be centres such as Kinderwohl.