The Department
Social Cohesion Development
Social Security
Access to Social Rights
Social Policy for Families and Children

Access to...

Social protection
Social Services


Joint cooperation programmes
Dissemination activities
Publications on access to social rights and other issues
Series Trends in social cohesion
Access to Social Rights


Access to Social Services
Social services, such as care for the elderly, childcare or assistance in finding employment, help people to access their social rights. Their role is essential to promote social cohesion.

Social service systems in the Council of Europe member states are not all equally developed, but they all face similar challenges. The ultimate aim is to make high-quality, comprehensive social services available to everyone in all the member states.

Over the last years, one of the key developments in the provision of social services has been to make them more client-oriented. Social welfare services have to be adapted to their individual needs. One of the most effective ways to improve the quality of services is to involve users in their design, management, implementation and evaluation. User involvement also improves their autonomy and increases their participation in society as a whole.

Since 2001 a project is concentrating specifically on user participation in social services.
An intergovernmental group Group of Specialists on User Involvement in Social Services (CS-US) was set up to examine the best practices of participation and involvement of users in social services throughout the European continent and integrated delivery of social services. The group elaborated a report and policy guidelines on user involvement in social services. They were launched in the framework of a Conference on this issue which took place in Warsaw on 14 and 15 June 2007.

Following the completion of the work of the Group, the Council of Europe is involved in disseminating its outcomes through dissemination activities in several countries.

Related documents
Report on Integrated Social Services in Europe, by B. Munday
Policy Guidelines for the design and implementation of integrated models of social services

Final activity report of the Group of Specialists on User Involvement in Social Services (CS-US) for the years 2003-2004
Background paper on obstacles to an increased user involvement in social services
Background paper on current strands in debating user involvement in social services
Paper on "European social services: A map of characteristics and trends"
Background paper on the role of new information technology as regards user involvement in social services