Youth Work in Lithuania

At the national level, the Commission for Youth and Sport Affairs of the Seimas controls youth policy implementing institutions. The Commission for Youth and Sport Affairs is responsible for the formulation of the national youth policy, promotion of youth rights and exercising parliamentary control of institutions that implement youth policy, listens to the announcements of ministries and other state institutions (Department of Youth Affairs) and evaluates the information.

The coordination and implementation of youth policy in Lithuania is delegated to the Ministry of Social Security and Labour. It supervises the implementation of the Law on Youth Policy Framework as well as implementation of youth policy measures adopted by the European Commission. The Department of Youth Affairs under the Ministry of Social Security and Labour implements the objectives of the state youth policy, supervises the implementation of the Law on Youth Policy Framework. It acts as a state institution that works out and implements the national youth policy programs and measures, analyses the state of youth and youth organizations in Lithuania, coordinates the activities of the state and municipal institutions in the of youth policy, performs other activities relevant to youth, youth organizations, and organizations working with youth. The Department of Youth Affairs implements the objectives of the state youth policy through application of measures to encourage youth to acquire education, get work, and engage in active social life; takes part in solution of youth related problems; develops non-formal education.

The Ministry of Education is the main coordinating authority concerning to implementation of non-formal education policy and other Ministries (the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Agriculture) have their particular measures related to youth work due to horizontal priority of youth policy and cross-governmental responsibility in its implementation in Lithuania.

At the local level, municipalities are the main institutions responsible for formulation and implementation of youth policy. Councils for youth affairs at the municipal level are established on the principle of parity involving the representatives of municipal institutions and youth organizations by the decision of Municipal Councils. Regional youth councils can delegate representatives of youth organizations to municipal councils for youth affairs. Different committees of Municipal Council, as well as departments, institutions of Municipality Administration (educational institutions, psychological services, institutions of non-formal education (music and art schools, sports centers, youth centers, cultural centers, museums, libraries, etc.) formulate and implement youth policy in municipalities. A coordinator of youth affairs assists the municipal institutions to formulate and implement a municipal youth policy (standard functions are approved by the Order No. A1-68 of the Minister of Social Security and Labour of 4 March 2008). A coordinator of youth affairs serves as a mediator between the politicians of municipality, officers and youth. A coordinator of youth affairs supervises and initiates measures, necessary for performance of youth policy. He or she provides institutions and persons with information on the implementation of youth policy in the municipality, cooperates with the Ministry of Social Security and Labour, the Department of Youth Affairs, and other institutions, youth organisations, non-formal youth groups, as well as takes part in developing cooperation with the municipalities of foreign countries in the field of youth policy.

The Council of Youth Affairs is a collegial advisory institution, functioning under the Department of Youth Affairs on social grounds, constituted on the basis of equal partnership from the representatives, delegated by the state institutions and the Lithuanian Youth Council (LiJOT). The task of the Council of Youth Affairs is to deal with the fundamental youth policy problems and give suggestions to the Department of Youth Affairs on the implementation of youth policy that meets the needs of youth and youth organizations. The decisions of the Council of Youth Affairs for the Department of Youth Affairs are of advisory nature. The Council of Youth Affairs consist of 12 members: 6 representatives of the state institutions and 6 representatives of youth organizations, who are delegated by the Lithuanian Youth Council (LiJOT).

The Lithuanian Youth Council (LiJOT) provides suggestions to governmental institutions which work with youth problems and youth organizations. LiJOT is the biggest non-governmental, non-profit umbrella structure for Lithuanian national youth organizations and regional unions of youth organizations. LiJOT has 62 members (non-governmental youth organizations) and represents more than 200 000 young people in Lithuania. LiJOT is a full member of the European Youth Forum and coordinates EURODESK Lithuania.

The main porpose of the Agency of International Youth Co-operation is to ensure the development of international youth cooperation and successful participation of Lithuanian youth in European Union programs for young people (through financial grants for project implementation).

The importance of youth work during the last 15 years has incresed. The attemps to create a youth work system were made since 2009. Open work with youth started even earlier, but the system of youth policy and youth funding mechanisms as well as opportunities created by them were not flexible – mostly those activities were based on project funding and were oriented towards the active youth. The development of a youth work system in Lithuania is in line with the European Council Resolution on youth work (2010). In 2010 the Concept of Open Youth Centers and Spaces was adopted by the Order of Director of the Department of Youth Affairs (April 7, 2010, No 2V-38-(1.4)). The Department of Youth Affairs worked out the Concept of open youth centers and spaces that defined the objectives, tasks, target groups, principles, contractors and quality requirements. One of the key objectives of the Concept is to establish open youth centers and open spaces as institutional forms of open work with youth that enhance young people with a fewer possibilities to engage in society and labour market. It has been increasingly recognized that youth work in Lithuania needs further professionalisation, as not all the activities can be performed only by volunteers.

The recent amendments of the Law on Youth Policy Framework (Official Gazette, TAR, 2018-06-11, Nr. 9738, will entry into force on 1st of January in 2019) are mostly focused on the improvement of youth work in Lithuania. One of the key objectives of revision is to establish official definitions of youth work and a youth worker as well as definitions of open work with youth, open youth center, open space, non-formal education and quality requirements for youth work by law. Youth work is defined as activities dedicated to creation of conditions for a young person, seeking to involve him or her in personal, professional and societal activities, to develop and foster his or her competences (Article 2, Paragraph 4). Open work with youth is a specific form of youth work that covers “work with youth in open youth centres and/or open spaces and that is guided by specific principles of youth work“ (Article 2, Paragraph 5). Other specific forms of youth work such as work with youth in the street and mobile work with youth as well as non-formal youth education. Work with youth in the street is work with youth in non-institutional environment, but directly in informal places of youth gathering (public spaces, streets, parks, caffees, sport places, clubs and etc) (Article 2, Paragraph 5). Mobile work with youth is work with youth after going to living places, where there is no youth work infrastructure, considering the needs of young people living in that place (Article 2, Paragraph 14). Non-formal youth education refers to activities that aim to develop personal, social and educational competences of young people and are not carried out according to formal education programmes (Article 2, Paragraph 16). In recent years the focus of youth work is moving away from developping infrastructure toward educational aims to support the formation of active citizens and cooperation between different sub-sectors in the youth policy field.