COST Action IS1102 SO.S. COHESION - Social services, welfare state and places


In the 3rd year of Action, activities concerned:

▪    Task 2 – Continuation of the comparison of case studies in the domain of care services (WG2)

▪    Task 3 - Launching the comparative evaluation of practices, oriented to providing policy inputs (WG3)

▪    Task 4 – Continuation of dissemination and capacity building (WG4)

Each task was coordinated by the respective WG leaders and co-leaders, whereas the overall scientific and methodological coordination was ensured by the WG Steering Committee (WG2, WG3 and WG4 leaders, co-leaders and thematic group coordinators, plus chair and vice-chair). 


(Source: Memorandum of Understanding)

Task 2/WG2 – Comparison of concrete experiences and practices (case studies) in the area of care services

As stated in the MoU (p. 16), the objective of Task 2 was to carry out ‘a comparison of concrete experiences and practices (case studies) in the area of care services’ across the different nations and regions participating in the Action. This was the central Task of the Action, which stretched over a period of two years and more. Its aim was to identify, evaluate and compare current experiences and practices – i.e. concrete case studies – in the domain of care services, in order to assess the effects of the restructuring of social services – and the recent financial crisis – from 5 perspectives: a) cost efficiency in relation to quality, choice, and satisfaction; b) democratic governance; c) social and territorial cohesion; d) the working conditions and training of social workers; e) gender and equal opportunities (MoU pages 17 and 23). It should be stressed here that, in the course of the first year of Task 2 it became clear that the financial crisis was having a very strong negative impact on the provision of care services in many European countries – especially Southern ones – and was overcoming – sometimes precipitating – previous restructuring trends. Therefore, the Action took on board the impact of the crisis as a major topic.

Task 2 was carried out by WG2 participants and was coordinated by Marisol Garcia and a number of Thematic Group Coordinators. Specific social services/themes had been selected during the first year of the Task, based on the preferences of participants – a) care for older people and people with disabilities, b) children and childcare, c) social assistance services, d) housing, e) social services and the crisis – and a total of about 45 case studies were proposed by participants for in-depth analysis and comparison (see Repository of case studies on the Action website at: http://www.cost-is1102- ).

In order to optimise the comparability of case studies, a template was designed to frame the presentations of the different initiatives and experiences.

As better explained below, a significant feature of the COST Action IS1102 was the structured involvement of local stakeholders (MoU p. 23). In the first year of Task 2, five Local Stakeholders Workshops were organized (involving 20-35 local actors and 1-2 national/foreign actors/experts/observers from the Action), where the Action output and objectives were shared and discussed with local actors. Additional LSWs were implemented in GP3. 

The presentation and comparison of case studies carried out in the 2nd and 3rd year of the Action, provided the basis for launching Task3/WG3 – Comparative assessment of good practices for policy recommendations, to be carried out in the 4th and last year of the Action. In the last Workshop of the 3rd year, the transition to Task 3 was discussed and activities launched.

Task 4/WG4 - Dissemination and capacity building

This was a ‘transversal’ task (see Chart F.1 in the MoU), the purpose of which was to socialise and disseminate the knowledge gathered in the course of the Action within both the academic community and the external audience of stakeholders, including policy makers, local administrators and social workers, service providers and service users (p. 17 of MoU).

The first dissemination tool of the Action was its website. During the 2nd year the ‘Repository of case studies’ had been developed, where the list (with open access) and the synopses (with reserved access) of ongoing case studies were posted. ‘National subpages’ were also set up for parties that requested it, to post documentation in the local language, including results of Local Stakeholders Workshops.

A second dissemination strategy involved the socialization of intermediate or final scientific reports on the Action website, with open access, with a DOI (Digital Object Identifyer) number. In the course of the 2nd year a number of WG1 national/regional reports produced within the Action were made available to the general public as Action Working papers with a DOI number. A number of WG2 case studies were added in the course of the 3rd year. 

A third dissemination and capacity building strategy was the set up of local stakeholders networks – i.e. networks of local ‘actors involved in the planning, production and delivery of social services, as well as users’ (MoU p. 30) – and the organization of local stakeholders workshops (LSW). Five such LSWs were organized during the 2nd year and were very successful. Five more were implemented during the 3rd year.

A fourth dissemination strategy put forward in the MoU was the publication of selected syntheses and cases in academic journals and/or edited book(s). WG leaders and coordinators of thematic groups had started a discussion on this during the 2nd year, but more energies were devoted to this strategy during the 3rd year and a number of publication projects took shape, including an edited volume on territorial variations in the provision of social services and two journal special issues, one on care for older people in different institutional contexts and one on housing.

In conclusion, the knowledge gathered in the course of Task 2 actively contributed to two of the three inter-related goals of Action IS1102, as stressed in the MoU:

  1. scientific advance, (through the sharing and comparison of the different local responses to the restructuring of social services);
  2. capacity building and dissemination of knowledge in both academic and non-academic circles, through the involvement of local stakeholders (policy makers, service administrations, service providers and workers, users), in local networks and workshops.



(Source: Work & Budget Plan for 3rd year, - approved by the Cost Office in December 2013)


A) Meetings

Management Committee meetings (2)

Two (half-day) MC meeting were scheduled in Year 3.

  • The first was in June 2014, in conjunction with the second WG2 Workshop (Tampere, Finland). It was primarily dedicated to an intermediate assessment of activities and to the adjustment of the Work & Budget Plan allocations.
  • The second was in November 2014, in conjuction with the third WG2 Workshop (Bratislava, Slovakia). It was primarly dedicated to a final assessment of Task2 , as well as the approval of the 4th year Work & Budget plan.

WG Steering Committee meetings (3)

Three (half to one-day) meetings of the WG Steering Committee were programmed.

  • The first WGSC meeting was scheduled in March, in conjunction with the first WG2 Workshop of the 3rd year in Barcelona (Spain). It mostly concerned the organization of the subsequent WG2 workshop in Tampere, dissemination and publication strategies, coordination of the thematic groups. 

  • The second WGSC meeting was scheduled in June in Tampere, in conjunction with the second WG2 Workshop of the 3rd year in Tampere (Finland). It was dedicated to assessing the case studies and preparing the next and last WG2 workshop in Bratislava, where ‘transversal readings’ and/or ‘thematic syntheses’ of finished case studies were presented, as well as further dissemination and publication strategies.
  • The third WGSC meeting was scheduled in November, in conjunction with the third and last WG2 workshop in Bratislava (Slovakia). Based on the results of the WG2 workshop, it was dedicated to organizing the transition to Task 3 to be carried out in the 4th year.

Workshops and WG meetings (3)

Three (2 to 3-day) Action workshops were held in GP3. 

  • In March a first WG2 workshop was held in Barcelona, to present a first batch of 
finished case studies. It involved all concerned Action parties. Depending on the number of case studies, the plenary workshop was coupled with parallel WG2 thematic group discussion meetings (1/2 day). 

  • In June, the second WG2 workshop of the 3rd year was held in Tampere, to present another batch of finished case studies pertaining to WG2. It involved all concerned Action parties. It was followed by parallel WG2 thematic group discussion meetings (1/2 day). 

  • In November, the third WG2 workshop was held in Bratislava, involving all Action parties. In this workshop drafts of ‘thematic syntheses’ and/or ‘transversal readings’ of the finished WG2 case studies were presented and discussed. The discussion provided inputs also for the transition to Task 3 in the 4th year. 


B) Short Term Scientific Missions (STSMs)

The STSM Committee issued 3 calls and assigned five grants, for a total duration of 15 weeks. Gender and country balance, as well as the involvement of Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) featured prominently among the criteria for the evaluation of applicants. Out of 5 grantees, 2 were women and 4 were ESRs.


C) Pubblications, dissemination, outreach, website

Dissemination was a major dimension of the Action – transversal and built-in, rather than carried out ex-post. It was therefore entrusted to a specific Task 4/WG4. A major ambition of the Action, as stated in the MoU (Section H), was to be trans-disciplinary, i.e. to bridge scientific and practical knowledge, by involving not only the scientific community, but also local policy makers, service administrations and providers, users and their families. The dissemination strategies and activities were coordinated and monitored by the appointed Dissemination Board (WG4 Leader Stefania Barilla’ and Co-leaders, plus Chair and Co-chair). 

As stressed earlier, this year’s activities included:

  • The further posting of scientific reports on the Action website, with open access and a 
DOI number and – in some case – an ISBN number associated (1 WG1 Working paper and 2 WG2 Working Papers). 

  • The further development of local stakeholders networks and workshops to ensure the 
cross-fertilisation between academic and non-academic knowledge. 

  • Plans for the structured valorisation and publication of WG2 output on academic media: 1 edited volume; 2 journal special issues.

The website

A major dissemination and outreach tool was the Action Website, conceived as the ‘hub’ of the network, with different sections and functions, some for internal communication (‘intranet’) and others for the broader public. It provided info on the Action’s aims, structure and activities, Action news and calendar of events, and a library with the Action methodological, intermediate e final reports, as well as any paper the MC deemed useful to upload. The sections devoted to the local stakeholders networks was enlarged, with the addition of two more tags (Slovakia, Bratislava action unit and Spain, Madrid action unit). Three new Working Papers were posted with open access: 1 WG1 Working paper and 2 WG2 Working Papers with associated DOI and ISBN codes.

The local stakeholder workshop

Throughout the 3rd year, 5 (1-day) local stakeholders workshops (LSWs) were funded in selected places, depending on partners’ applications (as per internal rules developed and approved by the MC during the 2nd year). These workshops (see section on ‘Dissemination and capacity building’ above) involved up to 35 local stakeholders (policy makers, civil servants, social workers, service providers, service users) and up to 3 long distance (national or international) experts or observers from the Action. In what concerns local people, they were supported through the L.O.S. instrument, whereas in what concerns the invited external – national or foreign – experts or Action observers, these were funded through the regular travel and subsistence instrument. 

Output for Year 3

In the 3rd year of Action the following output was produced:

  • Website: further enrichment in contents. 

  • Local stakeholders networks and workshops. 

  • Completion of WG2 case studies, some of which (2) were posted on the website with 

  • Plans and first steps for academic publications based on case studies. 

  • Drafts of ‘Thematic syntheses’ and/or ‘Transversal readings’ papers based on WG2 case studies 
(for internal use only). 

Yearly Financial Report 2014

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