Children and adolescents; taking into custody by the youth welfare office

Is the welfare of a child or young person at risk? If there are indications of this, you can contact the responsible youth welfare office.


The youth welfare office is entitled and obliged to take a child or adolescent into its care. This is the case in particular if the child or adolescent requests it or if an urgent danger to the child's well-being requires taking the child into custody and the persons entitled to the child do not object or a family court decision cannot be obtained in time.

During the period of custody, the Youth Welfare Office has far-reaching powers to act directly; in particular, it is entitled to perform all legal acts that are necessary for the welfare of the child or adolescent (e.g. arranging necessary medical examinations). The power of temporary placement with a suitable person, institution or other (suitable) form of accommodation (e.g. child protection agencies, standby foster homes, etc.) is also associated with the taking into custody.

If the custodians or legal guardians object to the placement, the youth welfare office must immediately obtain a decision from the family court on the necessary measures for the welfare of the child or adolescent, provided that in its opinion there is a risk to the child's well-being and the custodians or legal guardians are not willing or able to avert the risk.

Foreign children and adolescents who come to Germany unaccompanied are also taken into care by the Youth Welfare Office. Within the framework of temporary custody, the Youth Welfare Office checks, among other things, whether there are reasons why the young people should not be sent to other federal states.


The youth welfare office is entitled and obligated to take a child or adolescent into its care if

  • the child or adolescent asks for custody or
  • an urgent danger for the well-being of the child or adolescent requires the taking into care and
    • the legal guardians do not object, or
    • a family court decision cannot be obtained in time, or
  • a foreign child or adolescent comes to Germany unaccompanied and neither the child's or adolescent's legal guardians are present in Germany.


Within the framework of taking into care, the Youth Welfare Office clarifies together with the young person and the custodians or legal guardians how the existing situation could come about and points out possibilities of help and support. The Youth Welfare Office mediates in conflicts and initiates further assistance if necessary and helpful. The goal is to achieve the most stable and secure placement possible for the young person, for example in a foster family, in a youth welfare facility or in a supervised residential community.

Rights and duties during custody

The youth welfare office is entitled to temporarily take all legal steps necessary for the well-being of the child or adolescent. These include, but are not limited to, supervision, care, education, and determination of the place of residence.

  • The young person has the right to notify a person he or she trusts during the period of custody.
  • The employees of the Youth Welfare Office are obliged to inform the person's guardians or legal guardians immediately and to assess the risk of danger with them.
  • Children and adolescents are involved in all decisions concerning the taking into care, depending on their age and stage of development.

Decision on return to parents

  • If the custodians or legal guardians do not agree to the taking into care, the youth welfare office has to decide whether the child can be handed over to the custodians or legal guardians without endangering the child's well-being.
  • If this is not the case, the family court must decide what measures are to be taken for the welfare of the child.

End of custody

The custody ends with the handover of the young person to the custodian or legal guardian and with the decision on the granting of assistance for upbringing.

Special notes

Child welfare includes the entire well-being of a child or adolescent (= minor) as well as his or her healthy development. A risk to the child's well-being exists if a present or at least imminent danger to the child's development is foreseeable which, if it continues, will almost certainly result in considerable damage to the child's physical, mental or psychological well-being. The law lists the following as criteria for endangering the welfare of a child

  • The abusive exercise of parental care,
  • neglect of the child,
  • the behavior of a third party,
  • the incapacity of the parents, and
  • the prognosis for the future.

If you notice signs of such things in your neighborhood, among your acquaintances, or even among your relatives, please seek direct discussion and let others know that you are concerned or cannot and will not accept certain actions.

If you feel that speaking directly to the parent or guardian will not lead to an improvement in the child's situation, please contact the Youth Welfare Office of your local city or county immediately. Your anonymity will be preserved.

If you feel that there is an immediate danger, contact the police.





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Responsible for editing:Bayerisches Staatsministerium für Familie, Arbeit und Soziales

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