The responsibility for social welfare provision is firmly rooted at the cantonal and local levels due to Switzerland’s strongly federalist structures. The respective institutions may very well function or be designed differently. This is particularly the case for social assistance, which is shaped by cantonal social welfare laws and community social welfare offices. A considerable range of private institutions also exist in the Swiss welfare state, for example in correctional or foster homes and institutions. Historically, many private institutions had religious or philanthropic motives for their founding. Due to the expansion of the government’s role in ensuring public welfare, private initiatives have become less significant, but they remain an important and influential component in the provision of social security in Switzerland.