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EACEA National Policies Platform


4. Social Inclusion

4.2 Administration and governance

Last update: 9 March 2021
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  1. Governance
  2. Cross-sectorial cooperation



Social-inclusion policies are aimed at the entire French population, not just at young people. Hence, their governance is based on intervention sectors that go beyond that of youth, as well as on a large number of actors, including local authorities as well as associations, which play a major role in implementing social-inclusion policies.

The State plays a number of roles essential to social inclusion, in partnership with local authorities, social security bodies and operators Its primary role is to enact the fundamental legal standards for social action: individual rights, risks, protective systems, aid schemes, creation and abolition of services and institutions, levels of social benefits and distribution of roles among the various stakeholders, in particular between State and territorial authorities. The State also has a monitoring role with regard to the legality of local authorities’ accounts and decisions, and conditions under which aid and social action policies are implemented. Monitoring is carried out by the IGAS - General Social Affairs Inspectorate (Inspection générale des affaires sociales).


Implementation of aid and social action is shared between the State, local authorities, public bodies, associations, and other private entities (foundations, etc.). The State may intervene via its deconcentrated departments and specialised national agencies ensuring coordination of actions between the various stakeholders (national agencies, territorial authorities, etc.).

The State also provides expert assessment of action and social inclusion through evaluation, analysis, observation and production of knowledge on social policies. Work carried out by the INJEP – National Institute for Youth and Non-Formal Education (Institut national de la jeunesse et de l’éducation populaire), the DREES – Directorate for Research, Studies, Assessment and Statistics (Direction de la recherche, des études, de l’évaluation et des statistiques), and the INSEE contributes significantly to knowledge on social inclusion policies.


To fight poverty and social exclusion, the Government  can also revive the CILE – Cross-Ministerial Committee on the Fight against Exclusion (Comité Interministériel de Lutte contre les Exclusions). Defined in the Social Care Code (Code de l’Action Sociale) by article R115-2, the committee is tasked with drawing up, co-ordinating, and monitoring the Government’s policy on preventing social exclusion. On request from the Prime Minister, it examines draft legislation and regulations on the fight against poverty. It rules on action programmes implemented by the various ministerial departments concerned.



Governmental actors

The Government, under the responsibility of the Prime Minister, is the initiator of policies for vulnerable populations, in particular the national strategy for the prevention and fight against poverty. It follows the implementation and impact of these policies which are implemented by different actors, public operators and associations and territorial authorities (regions, communes, departments) which have competences in the social sphere. 


Ministry  in charge of social affairs and health 

The ministry in charge of social affairs and health (Ministère de la santé) initiates and implements the government’s policy in the areas of social affairs, solidarity, social cohesion, and health. It draws up and implements programmes to fight against poverty, and, in conjunction with other ministries, it takes part in public action in matters of social assistance, economic and social insertion, and social innovation. Jointly with other ministries, it has authority over several institutions that are themselves actors in social-inclusion policies.

Theses institutions are:

The DGS – Directorate General for Health (Direction Générale de la Santé) draws up the policy on public health and contributes to its implementation. Its action pursues 4 objectives: “reserve and maintain the state of health of members of the public, protect the population from health threats, guarantee the quality, safety and equality of access to the health system, and mobilise and co-ordinate partners”.

The DGCS – Directorate General for Social Cohesion (Direction Générale de la Cohésion Sociale) is tasked with designing, proposing, and implementing policies to support vulnerable people. Hence, it intervenes in policies on solidarity, social development, and promoting equality (women’s rights).

The DREES – Directorate for Research, Studies, Assessment, and Statistics (Direction de la Recherche, des Études, de l’Évaluation, et des Statistiques) is part of the public statistics department. Its priority mission involves observation, drawing up expert reports, and assessment concerning policies on social inclusion.

The IGAS – Inspectorate General of Social Affairs (Inspection Générale des Affaires Sociales) is a inter-ministerial verification body that checks, audits, and assesses structures and policies relating to social inclusion. It also acts as an advisor to public authorities.


The decentralised departments of the ministry

2019 saw the beginning of a reorganisation of local and regional services brought about by way of a circular issued by the Prime Minister dated 12 June 2019.   

The reform, which is set up in 2021, creates the regional departments responsible for economy, labour, employment and solidarity (DRETS).

 These new decentralised departments combine the social integration powers of the former regional departments for youth, sports and social cohesion (DSRJSCS) and competences regarding employability of the regional departments for enterprise, competition, labour and employment (DIRECCTE).   They implement public insertion services, social and professional insertion policies and emergency housing policies.

The implementation of health policies also falls within the sphere of regional health agencies (ARS).  The ARSs are public, financially autonomous, establishments, placed under the responsibility of ministers in charge of social affairs and health.   They pursue two main objectives: the management of the public health policy and the regulation of the regional provision of health services. 




Local authorities (cf. 1.4)

The département

Since 2004, the département has been the local-authority leader in the field of social and medico-social action. It is responsible for medico-social prevention work for children and families, the ASE – Child Welfare Service (Aide Sociale à l’Enfance), and the FAJ – Youth Assistance Fund (Fonds d’Aide aux Jeunes), which gives financial help to young people dealing with one-off financial difficulties.

In the field of child protection, competences are shared between the département through the departments of the ASE and the legal authority of the State, which covers the departments of the PJJ – Legal Protection of Young People (Protection Judiciaire de la Jeunesse).

The ASE – Child Welfare Service (Aide Sociale à l’Enfance) comes under the authority of the Département Council. Its missions are defined by the Social Action and Family Code . One of those missions is to provide material, educational, and psychological support to minors and their families, to emancipated minors, and to adults under the age of 21, who are dealing with social difficulties that are likely to seriously compromise their stability.


Public operators

National Family Allowances Fund (Caisse Nationale des Allocations Familiales)

The CNAF – National Family Allowances Fund (Caisse Nationale des Allocations Familiales) is a major actor in policies on national solidarity. Present in each département in the form of a CAF – Family Allowances Fund (Caisse d’Allocations Familiales), the structures work on behalf of the State and the départements to deal with making minimum social payments (housing benefits, benefits for disabled adults, and the minimum wage). That provides help for persons who are in precarity, who are isolated, or who are disabled, and makes their insertion easier. CAFs support families by paying them benefits to help them finance their children’s education and leisure. In addition, CAFs implement arrangements for social actions, such as facilitating access to social entitlements; they organise prevention, information, and education actions aimed at families, and they organise meetings with social workers. By helping families, the CAF helps young people and contributes to their independence through arrangements like the Working Tax Credit .


The CNOUS – National Centre for University and School Services (Centre National des Œuvres Universitaires et Scolaires) and its CROUSs – Regional Centres for University and School Services (Centres Régionaux des Œuvres Universitaires et Scolaires)

The CNOUS – National Centre for University and School Services (Centre National des Œeuvres Universitaires et Scolaires and its network of CROUS – Regional Centres for University and School Services  were established by the law of 16 April 1955.There are 27. They are national public establishments that are overseen by the Ministry for Higher Education , and their mission is to improve living conditions for students by “giving all students the same opportunities for access and income in higher education”. The CROUSs support students in all aspects of their lives (housing, leisure, finance, health, etc.) through specific services and arrangements.


Local missions

Local missions are front-line public actors in implementing policies for inserting and supporting the most vulnerable young people. For further information on local missions, please see 3.2 Main actors.



There is a multitude of national and local associations that have social action as their objective. They may not specifically aim at young people, who may nonetheless be concerned by their actions. Those associations include historic national charitable associations that fight against poverty: Secours CatholiqueEmmaüs, the Petits Frères des PauvresATD Quart-monde, and Secours Populaire.

Others are involved in child protection and in the social inclusion of young people, like the Apprentis d’Auteuil, a foundation that has been recognised as being “of public utility” and of which the hostels accommodate minors placed there by the ASE – Child Welfare Service. It also does prevention work, and supports young people in their social and professional insertion. The association also accommodates unaccompanied  minors, and supports them through the process of regularising their administrative situation.

Some thematic associations work more specifically with young people. A number of associations are targeted more directly at youth, victims of violence and discrimination (such as homophobia, for example) to prevent their social marginalisation. 



Cross-sectorial cooperation


Intersectoral cooperation, or more precisely “interterritoriality”* – i.e. coordination and cooperation between the various territorial levels (national and local) – is of major importance to implementation of social inclusion policies, above all those concerning youth.

A number of youth-related social policies and schemes (such as the Garantie Jeunes / Youth Guarantee – see 4.3 Strategy for social inclusion of young people) are based on a multi-partner, intersectoral approach that mobilises local missions.

Social inclusion policies require coordinated responses between the State’s various departments, including ministries, deconcentrated departments and the public operators concerned. Such coordination is given concrete form by the CILE – Interministerial Committee to Combat Social Exclusion (Comité interministériel de lutte contre les exclusions) created by the Law of 29 July 1998.The CILE is responsible for defining and coordinating the Government’s policy on preventing and combating social exclusion.  

  • It ensures coherence of government action by fostering mobilisation of the various ministerial departments concerned and development of crosscutting actions.
  • At the Prime Minister’s request, it may also be asked to draft government strategy for combating poverty, budgets required to combat exclusion and provisional legal and regulatory texts.


The CILE is a policy instrument for coordination, concertation and management of crosscutting actions. Such work should result in development of a comprehensive multi-year policy strategy.

However, the way a CILE is organised and run is not systematic, and is subject to the Government’s will. It last met on 21 January 2013, leading to the adoption of the Multi-year Plan against Poverty and for Social Inclusion (2013-2017).


The cross-sectorial approach in social inclusion policies can be also materialised in the creation of council :

CNLE – National Council on Policies for fighting Poverty and Social Exclusion (Conseil National des Politiques de Lutte contre la Pauvreté et l’Exclusion Sociale)

Established in 1988 by law no. 88-1088 of 1 December 1988 on the minimum wage, the CNLE – National Council on Policies for fighting Poverty and Social Exclusion (Conseil National des Politiques de Lutte contre la Pauvreté et l’Exclusion Sociale) is another actor in inclusion policies. The Council is a place for exchanges and consultations between public actors and actors involved in the fight against social exclusion. The CNLE takes part in the process of debates and in drawing up national action plans. The body comes under the responsibility of the Prime Minister, and its mission is to:

  • give an opinion to the government on all matters relating to the fight against poverty and social exclusion
  • ensure consultation between public authorities and associations that work in the field of fighting poverty and social exclusion
  • on request from the Prime Minister, issue an opinion on draft legislation or regulations, and on action programmes relating to social insertion
  • propose to public authorities measures that could improve the fight against poverty and social exclusion.

The members of the CNLE are appointed by the Prime Minister. It is made up of:

  •  Eight elected officials and representatives of territorial social action;
  •  Eight representatives of legal persons, other than the State and local authorities, contributing to  the fight against exclusion, appointed by the Prime Minister on the proposal of the Minister responsible for social affairs;
  • Eight representatives appointed by the Prime Minister upon the recommendation of national unions of employees;
  • Eight personalities appointed based on their competences in matters of the fight against poverty and social exclusion;
  • 32 beneficiaries of social policies joined one of the panels of the council in late 2019.

decree of October 22, 2019 carries out a major reform of the National Council by increasing the number of people eperiencing poverty from 8 to 32.