Social services are a range of public services intended to provide support and assistance towards particular groups, which commonly include the disadvantaged. They may be provided by individuals, private and independent organisations, or administered by a government agency. Social services are connected with the concept of welfare and the welfare state, as countries with large welfare programs often provide a wide range of social services. Social services are employed to address the wide range of needs of a society. Prior to industrialisation, the provision of social services was largely confined to private organisations and charities, with the extent of its coverage also limited. Social services are now generally regarded globally as a 'necessary function' of society and a mechanism through which governments may address societal issues.
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The provision of social services by governments is linked to the belief of universal human rights, democratic principles, as well as religious and cultural values. The availability and coverage of social services varies significantly within societies. The main groups which social services is catered towards are: families, children, youths, elders, women, the sick and the disabled. Social services consists of facilities and services such as: public education, welfare, infrastructure, mail, libraries, social work, food banks, universal health care, police, fire services, public transportation and public housing.