Point Information Jeunesse or Bureau Information Jeunesse centres are run by 1,300 independent associations which belong to a network of centres backed by the Ministry of Education and are usually supported financially by local authorities.
Anyone, including parents, can access as much information and advice as they need without an appointment, for free and in the knowledge they will be treated confidentially.
You can find your nearest centre here.
The national organisation is the Centre d’information et de documentation jeunesse (CIDJ), an association created in 1969 and backed and funded by the Ministry of Education. Its national website cidj.com is packed with information and provides the documentation for the network of Information Jeunesse centres.
Ferroudja Kaci, responsible for the development of services at the central Paris office, said they are a first port of call for anyone looking for an answer to questions: “We are well-known as a place to come for help. In one year, just in our centre, we have around 95,000 visitors a year.
“More than half are from collège and lycée, and often come with their parents, for advice over future studies and career advice. Then there are those who want help finding a job or an apprenticeship, or career advice once they have their qualifications.
“In third place are people wanting to know how they can go abroad to do voluntary work, as an au pair or perhaps to improve language skills.
“Then there is everything to do with daily life. This can be help in knowing their legal rights, and we have specialised lawyers who work with us.
“It can be to find somewhere to live, about drugs and addiction, or where to do voluntary work. We cover all questions young people might have.” She said their service is attractive because there is no judgment involved.
“We are not from an official institution like school or the mairie, which might want to see your ID card, or have a vested interest in whether you succeed or not in your exams. There is no pressure on the person when they come to us.
“We are purely here to help and give out information.
“Often they first come when they are at collège, then return when they are at lycée and then as a university student or during their first job.” In Paris, if people do not want to come in, they can talk to a counsellor via a chatline on the website.
There are also sessions for parents, Café des Parents, on subjects such as addiction, how to manage conflict with older children, how to help them study, and for foreign families who want to better understand the French education system.
“We often have expat parents and children coming for help.”
They are also there for young people in serious need of support, if they have nowhere to live, or not enough money to buy food, and they can assign them to a counsellor and point them in the direction of any benefits or other places they can turn to for assistance.
Each centre is run independently so they do not always have the same areas of expertise or the same programmes. They all have contacts and advice relevant to their region.
Some events are national, though dealt with in slightly different ways in each area.
Every spring there is a summer jobs event with its own website: jobs-ete.com. Employers can put up their job ads for free so you can find plenty of offers.
There is also advice on how to fill in a CV, write a cover letter and prepare for an interview, with video tutorials. You can also ask for this kind of help person to person in one of the centres. In June there was a forum in Paris on accommodation, and the theme was taken up in many other regions.
The CIDJ works in partnership with the Comité Local pour le logement autonome des jeunes, an association which helps young people find housing throughout France.
Another CIDJ national website is santeaddictions.fr, which is part of their Non aux addictions, Oui à ma santé national programme.