Social services provide support to disadvantaged children, families, and young people in a range of forms including support for parents, child protection, alternative care arrangements, and supporting vulnerable young people in education, employment or housing as well as in their transition from the care system into adulthood.

With our members, we have been discussing the role of social services in lifting children out of poverty and exclusion since 2007 when we addressed the concept of child poverty as multi-generational and multi-dimensional. We understand child poverty not only as lack of family income but as poverty of opportunities for children themselves.

Through working groups and seminars, we have outlined the importance of continuous needs assessment, family and community-based care, and joint work with education, health, and justice as key factors for promoting better outcomes for children and families. We have done this in many activities, such as the 2018 working group meeting on integrated care and support (see Integrated Services) and our 2011 seminar that explored the links between universal and specialist children’s services.

We have also assessed social services care and support for specific groups of children, such as unaccompanied children, as responsibility for their call falls with child protection services. To investigate further, we organised in 2017 the seminar ‘Migrant children and young people – Social inclusion and transition to adulthood’.

 

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We have made significant contributions to European policy-making on children’s services. In 2016, we launched the report ‘Investing in Children’s Services, Improving Outcomes’, which was the result of a three-year project between 2013 and 2016. The project consisted of a series of peer-reviews and an analysis of national policy frameworks in selected countries on the extent to which the frameworks implement the principles of the 2013 European Commission’s Recommendation ‘Investing in Children’.

We examine how social services promote the inclusion of vulnerable young people, including care leavers, NEETs, young people with mental health problems, young offenders, migrant young people, and young people with disabilities. These vulnerable young people often require coordinated responses from social, education, health, and employment services to support their social inclusion as we recently assessed in the framework of our integrated care and support working group (see Integrated Services).

Our work on youth has led to the dissemination of promising practices and policies that support vulnerable young people to access education and the labour market, contributing to the implementation of the European Commission’s Youth Guarantee for the most vulnerable youth.

 

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