• New kinds of families, new kinds of social care

      Pratesi, Alessandro; Groger, Teppo (Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, 2004)
      The SOCCARE Project studied social care arrangements of European families in five different socio-economic and cultural environments that represent the variety of European welfare states (Finland, France, Italy, Portugal and the UK). It focused on four key family types that all are heavily affected by the ongoing demographic, socio-economic and structural changes within European societies: 1) lone parent families, 2) dual-career families, 3) immigrant families and, 4) “double front carer” families (that have young children and, at the same time, elderly family members in need of care). The project interviewed almost 400 European families in detail about their opportunities and difficulties to make flexible and responsive care arrangements and to combine these with participation in paid employment. These interviews were made in national languages by five national research teams. The interview data was analysed mostly at the national level and reported in national workpackage reports. Moreover, on the basis of the information available in these national reports (and in synopses of interviews), care arrangements and their in/flexibilities in that particular family type were compared in the five European countries. Results of these qualitative comparisons were reported in four comparative workpackage reports of the project. In addition, the SOCCARE Project produced a state-of-the-art report on comparative social care research and finally, a final report. All reports of the SOCCARE Project are freely available at its web site (http://www.uta.fi/laitokset/sospol/soccare/). The findings of the project have been thoroughly disseminated and discussed with policy experts at the local, national and European levels. The final aim of the project has been to provide a major contribution towards shaping a functioning framework for future policies on social care in Europe. Accordingly, the SOCCARE Project gave a number of policy recommendations. A part of these recommendations were based on particular findings from the workpackages but the main recommendations were based on the evidence from the whole project. Recommendations were given for policies on formal care, policies on informal care, labour market policies and other social policies (including housing policies, immigration policies, social security policies and social work). According to the final and most general recommendation of the SOCCARE Project, it is highly necessary that policies do away with strict dichotomies. Citizens of Europe are not either workers or carers. They are both at the same time. As well, children, disabled people and older people are not in need of either informal or formal care. Both are essential and practically always, there is a need to integrate both at the level of everyday family life. To face the challenges of the future, an integrated policy perspective on work and care is required in Europe.