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EACEA National Policies Platform


4. Social Inclusion

4.2 Administration and governance

Last update: 28 November 2023
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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. 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. 

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 health 

The ministry in charge of 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 SGMAS (General Secretariat of the Ministries in charge of Social Affairs)

The General Secretariat of the Ministries of Social Affairs is responsible for modernising the administration and coordinating social services and public policies. It coordinates the joint work between the ministries and the territorial services which it coordinates and steers: the Regional Health Agencies (ARS) and the Regional Directorates for the Economy, Employment, Labour and Solidarity (DREETS).

The General Secretariat has authority over the cross-cutting and support functions of the social ministries

  • The Directorate of Finance, Procurement and Services (DFAS),
  • The Human Resources Directorate (DRH),
  • The Information Systems Directorate (DSI),
  • The Legal Affairs Directorate (DAJ),
  • The Delegation for European and International Affairs (DAEI), for the fields of solidarity, health and labour,
  • The Delegation for Information and Communication (DICOM) for the fields of solidarity, health and labour,
  • The delegation for health information systems strategy (DSSIS) for the solidarity - health field.

The decentralised departments of the ministry

The competent ministries  also rely on its decentralised services to relay its action in the territories (regions and departments).Since 2021, as part of the reform of the territorial organisation of the State, new regional directorates have been created: :

Regional directorates in charge of the 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 solidarities and health.   They pursue two main objectives: the management of the public health policy and the regulation of the regional provision of health services. The Ministry of Health and Solidarities works with representative and advisory bodies such as the National Council for Anti-Exclusion Policies.

National Council for anti-exclusion policies

Created in 1988, by law no. 88-1088 of 1 December 1988 relating to the minimum integration income, the National Council for Policies to Combat Exclusion (CNLE) is another player in inclusion policies. This council is a forum for exchange and consultation between public actors and those involved in the fight against social exclusion. The CNLE participates in the reflection and development of national action plans. This body, placed under the responsibility of the Prime Minister, has the following mission

  • To give an opinion to the government on all issues relating to the fight against poverty and social exclusion;
  • To ensure consultation between the public authorities and the associations working in the field of combating poverty and social exclusion;
  • To issue an opinion, at the request of the Prime Minister, on draft legislation or regulations and on action programmes relating to social inclusion;
  • Proposing to the public authorities measures that would improve the fight against poverty and social exclusion.


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

Members of the Government ;

  • Elected representatives and representatives of social and territorial action;
  • Representatives of organisations involved in the fight against exclusion;
  • Representatives of legal entities under public or private law, other than the State and local authorities, involved in integration and the fight against exclusion;
  • Representatives appointed by the Prime Minister on the proposal of national trade union organisations of employees
  • Personalities appointed on the basis of their expertise in the fight against poverty and social exclusion;
  • Directors of organisations including: the Director General of the Caisse nationale d'assurance maladie des travailleurs salariés, the Director of the Caisse nationale des allocations familiales, the Director General of Pôle emploi
  • The President of the Economic, Social and Environmental Council;
  • People experiencing poverty or precariousness.


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 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 Œuvres 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: ATD Quart-monde, Secours CatholiqueEmmaüs, the Petits Frères des Pauvres, 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. 



The state plays a number of key roles in social inclusion, in partnership with local authorities, social security bodies and operators. Its primary role is to lay down the fundamental legal standards for social action: the rights of individuals, risks, protection systems, aid schemes, the creation or abolition of services or establishments, the level of social aid, as well as the distribution of roles between the various actors and in particular between the State and local authorities. In addition, the State exercises a control function over the legality of the accounts and decisions of local authorities, as well as the conditions of application of social aid and action policies. This control is carried out by the decentralised state services under the authority of the prefects and by the Inspectorate General of Social Affairs (IGAS).

The implementation of social assistance and action is shared between the State, local authorities, public bodies, associations and other private structures (foundations, etc.). State intervention may be carried out by decentralised services but also by specialised national agencies which ensure the coordination of actions between the various players (national agencies, local authorities, etc.).

In addition, the State assumes a function of expertise in social action and inclusion through evaluation, analysis, observation and the production of knowledge on social policies. The work of the National Institute for Youth and Non formal Education (INJEP), the DREES and the INSEE contributes in particular to the knowledge of social inclusion policies.

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 Contrat d'engagement jeune / Youth commitment contract – 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 organisation and holding of a CILE is not systematic and depends on a government decision.