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The policy briefing has been drafted in the framework of the 2022 annual meeting of the European Social Network’s (ESN) Working Group on Quality of Social Services. The meeting brought together social services directors, professionals, and researchers from twelve European countries, who represent public social services at local, regional, and national levels; quality agencies; research organisations and social care providers, to reflect on current trends in social services quality assurance and build further on evidence and good practices gathered in previous ESN policy activities and publications.

The working group, which will run until 2025, aims to gather evidence on common quality principles, existing quality assurance mechanisms, and possible ways forward on cross-European quality standards in social care and social services. This briefing is one of four supporting this objective and begins by addressing the concept of quality in social services and explores the main trends in European countries and relevant EU policies. This is followed by an overview of potential quality principles and considerations for
future work.

The briefing has been drafted based on the discussions and knowledge exchanged at the first meeting in Prague (Czechia) on 7-8 November 2022. It is also based on desk research and questionnaires completed by ESN members from public social services at local, regional and national levels in July-September 2022 to collect data on national quality assurance mechanisms and policies, completed by 31 ESN members from the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czechia, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Lithuania, Malta, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

An Executive Summary is also available in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish.