Institute for the Development of Social Services (IRSS) Founded in 1998 by an ordinance of Poland’s Minister of Labour and Social Policy, Institute for the Development of Social Services (IRSS) is a research and training institute providing a wide range of expert assistance for social work personnel and the wider social-policy community. Drawing on the expertise of leading social policymakers, theoreticians and practitioners, our work spans training courses, policy research and analysis, and publishing. We remain Poland’s only research institute with a focus on social work. Our mission is to inform policy debate and contribute to good social work and social policy by:

  • offering an array of training programmes, both statutory and non-statutory, for social work staff;
  • producing quality research on a range of social policy issues, notably welfare provision, social work and disability policy;
  • advice for central and local government agencies on the design, implementation and evaluation of various social policy instruments;
  • presenting, through proprietary publications, the latest empirical findings and theoretical advances in social assistance, social work, disability policy and childcare in Poland and abroad.

We are also an institution appointed by the Minister of Labour and Social Policy to make formal decisions concerning the validation of qualifications necessary for the EU-member state citizens to be employed as social workers under the Polish regulations.

Training courses

We run training courses in social policy and social work targeted mainly at frontline and management-level social work staff. Our offer includes various courses devoted to selected problems in welfare provision and social work, as well as statutory courses:

first-degree specialization in social work• second-degree specialization in social work• organization of welfare provision. We also offer custom-tailored training courses for individual organizations or entities.


We publish three specialist periodicals: Praca Socjalna (Social Work) and Niepełnosprawność i Rehabilitacja (Disability and Rehabilitation) are scientific, peer-reviewed journals, published on a bi-monthly and quarterly basis, respectively, presenting the latest empirical, theoretical, legal and policy developments in their respective policy domains. Problemy Opiekuńczo-Wychowawcze (Problems in Childcare and Upbringing) is a monthly publication focusing on the current issues in childcare and education policy. We also publish a book series, Ex Libris Pracownika Socjalnego (Social Worker Library), featuring important contributions to the theory and practice of social work and welfare provision.

EU projects

In the recent years we have taken part in a number of projects and programmes, including:

  • Coordination for Active Integration, 
  • Valuing Education and Experience of the Local Councillors in Europe,
  • Rescaling of social welfare policies in Europe, 
  • Evaluation in the welfare system,
  • In search of the Polish model of social economy, 
  • Quality and organization of work at local welfare centres (OPS),
  • Volunteerism and Social Services: teaming up to tackle social exclusion in the 21st century,
  • Enhancing the life skills of motor-disabled youth.

Statutory tasks of the Institute for the Development of Social Services:

  1. performing researches and analyses in the area of social care,
  2. providing expert opinions and advice concerning social care services, in particular the services carrying out tasks in the area of social care and social work,
  3. training and professional development of social services,
  4. creating systemic solutions regarding social services’ work in particular the services carrying out tasks in the area of social care and social work,
  5. promoting and publishing activities regarding social work and social care problems, including family care.

Board of the Institute for the Development of Social Services

  • Prof. Stanisław Jerzy Szmagalski – Chairman of the Board,
  • Prof. Adam Kurzynowski – Vice-chairman of the Board,
  • Prof. Zbigniew Woźniak,
  • Prof. Jan Łaszczyk,
  • Tomasz Kaźmierczak, PhD,
  • Anna Olech, PhD,
  • Joanna Staręga-Piasek, PhD,
  • Sergo Kuruliszwili, PhD,
  • Remigiusz Kijak, PhD,
  • Agnieszka Skowrońska, PhD,
  • Emilia Czerniakiewicz, MA,
  • Danuta Szymańska, MA.