„Family Council“ is a method of helping troubled families develop self-help solutions with professional guidance., It has been tried and tested as a legal, official social service for decades in many countries across the world. In Austria, this program has only recently been established as a social service (implemented in the federal state of Lower Austria). Formal training for family council co-ordinators is offered by the Universities of Applied Sciences in St. Pölten (Lower Austria) and Klagenfurt (Carinthia).

The family council program focusses on individual responsibility, empowerment, adjustment to individual needs and optimal use of resources provided by the client’s social network.



“Family council” is recommendable in situations where young clients are at risk or in jeopardy and a family system needs to be strengthened. Most issues normally dealt with by Youth Welfare may be subject to a family council procedure.



A Youth Welfare social worker defines a concern regarding a minor/minors in a family and contracts one of our specially trained family council co-ordinators who will support parents or legal guardians with the organization of a family council. Together, the co-ordinator and the parents find a group of interested individuals within the family’s social network who will volunteer to participate in a family council: relatives, trusted friends, neighbours, colleagues at work etc., — anyone able and willing to contribute to problem-solving.

Using existing human, economic and immaterial resources, the family council establishes an individually adjusted plan of action. If needed, external professional help may also be recruited.

The plan of action is then presented to the co-ordinator,. Together, the family council and the co-ordinator commit to goals. The co-ordinator always remains available for counselling. Once the plan has been implemented, the end result is jointly evaluated.



There is a European Union family council program network involving practitioners, researchers and academics of 19 countries some of which have been implementing the method for over 30 years. The program is also part of the repertoire of Youth Welfare authorities and organizations in Great Britain, U.S.A., Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Tasmania. The method was first developed for and by New Zealand’s youth welfare program in Maori communities, based on ethnic-regional traditions.

AIS Youth Service is in close exchange with other practicing and researching organization and offers the family council program in the federal estate of Styria, Austria.