Project on social welfare practice completed

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Certain social welfare tasks in Switzerland were largely uncoordinated until the 1980s. Experts called for the introduction of standard national guidelines in order to bring this lack of coordination to an end.

The umbrella organisation LAKO (the national conference on social work) was founded in 1930 in response to demands for greater supervision, regulation and professionalism. During its inquiries, LAKO encountered interest groups with varying rationality models in public administration, politics and the private social welfare sector. In order to improve coordination, LAKO brought different social welfare bodies together, leading to complex hybrid combinations of private and public-sector participants and to different types of cooperation. This type of amalgamation was a step in the direction of standardisation and harmonisation. The participants were strengthened at the various levels on which they operated, and increased their influence.

The research project demonstrates that LAKO’s activities nevertheless lacked a supporting legal structure, which resulted in different areas developing in an unequal way. The exclusion of major welfare areas from the process of modernisation and professionalisation led to welfare practices in these areas continuing to have a harmful impact on the integrity of some of the persons concerned even now, as can still be observed in extra-familial care settings, for example (e.g. children in residential homes or being fostered).

In order to create different conditions today, the authors of the study recommend bringing in stronger legal requirements regarding access to services and decision-making processes, together with greater transparency and increased involvement of the people being addressed, including during the actual delivery of the services.