Today, the Riigikogu passed an Act which enables the payment of a higher allowance to foster parents, and creates the possibility to pay the social benefit for a child with a disability for children with orphan diseases.
The major amendments proposed in the Act on Amendments to the Social Welfare Act, the Social Benefits for Disabled Persons Act and the Labour Market Services and Benefits Act (146 SE), initiated by the Government, concern the social rehabilitation service, the alternative care service and foster parent allowances, the payment of allowances to children with orphan diseases, the identification of disabilities and the degree of severity of disabilities, and mitigation of the coping difficulties arising from emergency situation.
The Act creates flexibility that will enable to increase the number of children reared in a foster family and in a family of a family home or substitute home, in the interests of children. This is possible in the case when children of one family need to be placed or there is another situation where an opportunity for children to be reared together needs to be ensured. Flexibility in terms of the number of children may also be important in the current emergency situation. The Act also amends the minimum amount in which local governments are required to support foster families upon caring for one child. The minimum allowance or fee for foster parents is doubled compared to the current rates.
The Act creates the possibility for the Social Insurance Board to begin to pay the social benefit for a child with a disability for children with orphan diseases, to compensate for additional costs related to the disease, also in the case when they do not have a developed disability. The aim is to provide for a state allowance for children with orphan diseases who do not have the characteristics of a developed disability but who need financial support in order to prevent a disability.
With the amendments to the Social Benefits for Disabled Persons Act, medical experts of the Social Insurance Board are given the possibility to identify a person’s disability and the degree of severity of the disability in persons of working age on the basis of their health data. At present, applicants need to describe the restrictions they are experiencing by spheres of activities in order for the degree of severity of their disability to be identified. In addition, in the case of a child with a severe or profound disability whose condition is constant and unchanging or progressive, the duration of the degree of severity of the disability can be identified for until he or she attains working age. At present, the degree of severity of disability is determined for one to three years.
The amendment to the Labour Market Services and Benefits Act will enable the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund to use counselling of the unemployed by telephone or through the information system of the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund, instead of inviting them to face-to-face counselling, in justified cases. In addition, the Act provides for the implementation of financial measures in extraordinary situations to mitigate the coping difficulties arising from the emergency situation in the case of specifically vulnerable target groups.
49 members of the Riigikogu voted for the passing of the Act.
Verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian)
Video recordings of the sittings of the Riigikogu can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/riigikogu.
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