There are a number of important social challenges in Europe today, including high levels of unemployment, increasing poverty and social exclusion, as well as the challenges posed by demographic ageing. These challenges affect the adequacy and sustainability of social policies. The European Social Network (ESN) is working specifically on some of these issues through a number of knowledge exchange forums, applied research projects, and the European Social Services Conference. As ever, our aim is to approach these challenges from the perspective of directors of local public social services across Europe. We aim to facilitate an exchange of learning among ESN members and to draw on this learning in order to help shape policy responses at European and national level.

Children, Families and Youth
Children and young people, people living in single-parent households or large families are on average at greater risk of poverty than the total population.

Workforce and Management
The difficult economic climate has put great pressure on promoting care and inclusion in today's societies, and this is where strong management can really make a difference.

Ageing and Care
With the number of European citizens aged 65 doubling in the next 50 years, demographic ageing is a serious challenge for all countries, but also an opportunity to redesign care and social systems.

Disability
The 80 million people with disabilities in Europe have the right to live independently and be fully included in society, but they still face barriers in participating in community life and the labour market.

Integrated Services
The integration of public services is an important aspect for addressing future challenges, including the ageing population, increasing needs of service users and decreasing public budgets.

Mental Health
With one in ten EU citizens experiencing a mental health problem at some point in their lives, mental health should become a major concern across all areas of policy making, not only welfare and health.

Developing Community Care
Most people take living in and being part of the community for granted, but this is not the case for thousands of residents in large institutions.

Evidence and Innovation
The value of informed decision-making drawing on evidence has gained a new momentum in the social field.