Production of boundaries by social service organizations: study on family integrated service centers in Z City
【Abstract】Social service organizations have developed fast in China as a result of government purchases of public services in recent years. However, there are critical differences in this area between China and Western countries. The preconditions for government purchases of public services in Western countries are that government and social service organizations are relatively independent, and that the latter is strong. In China, however, the relationship between government and social service organizations is fuzzy, and the latter is still quite weak. Thus, the effectiveness of public services in the West depends on the collaboration between government and social service organizations, in which boundaries are eliminated and a partnership is developed. In China, boundaries should be produced in the first place to assure the effectiveness of government purchases of public services. This paper focuses on family integrated service centers in Z City, and analyzes the production of boundaries by considering service delivery strategies. It is aimed at responding to the partnership perspective and theoretical issues regarding the development of social service organizations in China.
【Keywords】 social service organization; production of boundaries; partnership; family integrated service center;
(Translated by CAO xuebing)
. ① By the end of 2014, there were 1.668 million social service organizations (see the social service development statistical bulletin for 2014 released by Ministry of Civil Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, http://www.mca.gov.cn/article/sj/tjgb/201506/201506008324399.shtml, June 10, 2015), with government spending CNY 2 billion on purchasing social services and the number of private social service organizations being over 3500 (see the summary on civil affairs work for 2014 released by Ministry of Civil Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, http://mzzt.mca.gov.cn/article/qgmzgzsphy2015/gzbg/201412/20141200748867.shtml, December 24, 2014.) [^Back]
. ① FISC was called community integrated service center in the pilot stage. It is an important strategy for Z City to advocate the service management reform and innovation of sub-districts and communities. See the notice on issuing plans for the city’s social management service reform and pilot construction of sub-district and community integrated service centers (Z Municipal Bureau of Civil Affairs, No. 213 Document in 2010), the notice on issuing three working standards during the period of pilot construction of sub-district and community integrated service centers in Z City (Z Municipal Bureau of Civil Affairs, No. 320 Document in 2010), the document issued by Z Municipal Party Committee—the notice of Z Municipal Party Committee and Z Municipal People’s Government on advocating the service management reform and innovation of sub-districts and communities (Z government, No. 14 Document in 2011), the document issued by General Office of Z Municipal Party Committee—the notice of General Office of Z Municipal Party Committee and General Office of Z Municipal People’s Government on issuing implementing measures for accelerating the construction of sub-district family integrated service centers (Z government office, No. 22 Document in 2011). According to the No. 22 Document, FISC is a service platform in a sub-district, with its operation guided by civil affairs departments of the district (county-level city). Through government purchases of services, FISCs are operated by private social work service organizations. In line with the actual service demand in different regions, FISCs should focus on services for key groups such as families, elderly people and young people, scientifically set up service schemes for all community residents, and provide professional, comprehensive and quality social services. Currently there are 171 FISCs in Z City, with most sub-districts having one FISC and some having two FISCs. Expenditures on services are usually CNY 2 million per year, although in some areas expenditures could be up to CNY 2.5 million per year. In principle each FISC should have one staff assigned for each CNY 100,000 spent, with more than half of the staff being professional social workers and more than two thirds being professional workers in fields related to social services. [^Back]
. ② According to academic practice, in this paper all individual and location names are anonymized. [^Back]
. ① See the document of Z City, implementing measures for accelerating the construction of sub-district family integrated service centers (Z government office, No. 22 Document in 2011). [^Back]
. ② “One team and three centers” refer to integrated enforcement team, sub-district government affairs service center, integrated governance and stability maintenance center, and FISC. [^Back]
. ① GD Community is a major model community created by BC Sub-district, and a star community frequently visited in Z City. [^Back]
. ① 3 refers to young people, elderly people and family services. 2 refers to particular projects at sub-district and community levels. [^Back]
. ② See http://dhzw.gzzx.gov.cn/cf123/yxta/201401/t20140124_33071.html [^Back]
. ③ In Guangdong, because of government purchases of services, except completing the tasks listed in the bidding proposal such as cases, teams, community activity working hours, social work organizations have to deal with the relationship with other organizations, especially government organizations. Thus when social work organizations deliver professional services, they have to cooperate with government organizations’ activities, including those of sub-districts, which is of critical importance for the survival of these organizations. [^Back]
. ① See http://www.socialworkers.org/pubs/code/code.asp [^Back]
. ① See http://www.socialworkers.org/pubs/code/code.asp [^Back]
. ① There are different third-party assessment organizations in Z City. During the first period there were different assessment standards in different districts. The assessment mentioned here is only for two districts in Z City where the authors took part in, and the detailed assessment indicators might differ from those in other districts, as some districts only include the assessment on professionalism. It is expected that in the second period assessment standards will be uniform. The newly-released notice on the bidding result for the assessment of FISCs and services for the coordination of supervision categorizes the assessment into four groups, which are responsible for the supervision over the training of assessment and mid-term assessment for FISCs, the end-of-term assessment for district A and district B, and the financial assessment. [^Back]
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