Social Support Services

What are social support services?

Welfare states provide social support services to improve the well-being and social inclusion of individuals in a vulnerable situation. Such services may be provided by public, private, or non-governmental organisations to beneficiaries who experience marginalisation, or social exclusion. This can include persons with disabilities, children without adequate parental care, homeless people, asylum seekers, Roma people, or women experiencing domestic violence. Social support services include care services in the community (e.g. personal assistance, day care, foster care, adoption), housing support, safety and protection from abuse, neglect and exploitation (e.g. shelters, protected homes), legal or psychological counselling, advice (e.g. for young people ageing out of care), and representation of interests.

Why are social support services important?

It is important that social support services are planned and implemented in a way that respects the human rights of service users and ensures quality outcomes for them. Ideally, beneficiaries of social services should be actively involved in the development of services, through co-creation. At the same time, social support services should be managed in a sustainable way by offering decent working conditions and skills development opportunities for personnel and having adequate financial resources in place. Partnership among different actors from central to local level is key in the delivery of social support services. Social support services can contribute to improving well-being and quality of life, creating better opportunities, and reducing the individual risks of vulnerability as well as the dependency on the formal social protection systems. Social support services can therefore contribute to a fair and inclusive society. 

What we offer:

The European Centre works with central and local level public authorities, service providers and organisations of civil society, international organisations, and researchers to improve various aspects of social support services delivery. The European Centre is offering research and policy analysis for the better design, implementation, and evaluation of social support services by:

  • Providing evidence-based research results to support policy design for social support services;
  • Conducting comparative analyses and case studies to understand the challenges and key success factors for the social services sector from the perspective of public authorities, service providers, service users and workers’ representatives;
  • Helping public authorities to develop person-centred and integrated approaches to service delivery for different target groups, as part of efforts to transition from institutional to community-based care in the UNECE region;
  • Providing cost and financial analysis of provisions of social support services, also in the context of decentralization;
  • Performing impact and outcome ex-post and ex-ante evaluation of social support services;
  • Suggesting transfer and upscaling of good practices and innovative approaches in the context of social support service delivery for different target groups;
  • Facilitating mutual learning events (peer reviews, policy reviews) for policy makers of the UNECE region to share promising practices on developing, running and financing social support services;
  • Designing and delivering inter-disciplinary trainings on social support services for different target groups (e.g. children, persons with disabilities, older people).

Project examples

Contact persons

Magdi Birtha

Magdi Birtha

Sabina Gjylsheni

Sabina Gjylsheni

Kai Leichsenring

Kai Leichsenring