In general, an innovative practice can be a product, a process, a new technology, a principle, a piece of legislation, an idea, or some combination of them. In the social service sector, social innovation is applied to improve the living and working conditions of social service users. Innovation is normally a new practice or policy to improve the quality, efficiency and availability of an existing service or to create a new service to better meet users’ needs.
As well as meeting social needs and tackling societal challenges, social innovations empower people and create new social relationships and models of collaboration. They are thus innovative in themselves and good for society’s capacity to innovate. Social innovation belongs to the DNA of social services, which are constantly challenged by changing social conditions and the emergence of new social risks.
Lately, the European Commission had put much emphasis on social innovation as an important new field which should be nurtured. The members of Social Services Europe are indeed key players in this respect. They contribute to building knowledge and sharing experiences, while also monitoring and contributing to the most relevant policy developments on this theme.