A social welfare office is a public-sector establishment established by the law of 18 December 2009. It provides social welfare services to individuals, and their families, living in the commune or, communes, where it operates.
Social welfare services aim to ensure that everyone has the essentials, including medical care, housing, food, clothing, drinking water and domestic energy. Each request for help is treated on an individual basis.
Help is provided by 30 social welfare offices nationwide.
Social welfare offices:
- provide individuals and their families with the help specified by the law of 18 December 2009;
- provide advice and information and take steps to obtain the social welfare measures and material and financial benefits to which the interested parties are entitled under other laws and regulations;
- provide the socio-educational guidance needed to enable them to gradually overcome their difficulties;
- help these individuals gain access to communication facilities and socio-cultural activities;
- provide material assistance as best suited to the applicants' situation and arrange for emergency housing;
- make sure that applicants are registered with social security;
- refer applicants to the specialist services that are best able to meet their needs;
- encourage applicants to take all possible steps to improve their personal situation.
Every commune with more than 6,000 inhabitants has a social welfare office. Communes with smaller populations come together with one or more others to set up a shared office, overseen by a joint head office, catering to at least 6,000 inhabitants.