Possible changes in support for disabled children
The Ministry of Labour’s Public Council supports the use of lump sum financial support payments for the rehabilitation of disabled children, but with reservations
Members of the Labour Ministry’s Public Council have discussed the possibility of providing lump sum financial support payments for families with disabled children that can be used to obtain rehabilitative goods and services – an initiative that is supported by Moscow-area authorities. A Bill introducing changes to F3: “Regarding additional State support measures for families with disabled children” is currently progressing through the Finance Ministry’s approval process, and has also been raised as an issue with the Russian Government. According to current legislative rules, these payments can only be used for improving living conditions, helping with children’s education and a mother’s working pension. The proposed changes will provide an opportunity for families bringing up disabled children to take advantage of this funding, irrespective of a child’s age, which they can also claim for children under the age of 3.
During a meeting of the Public Council, Svetlana Petrova, Director of the Ministry of Labour’s Department of Demographic Policy and Social Welfare, stated that rehabilitative aids, technology and services that form part of a disabled person’s rehabilitation programme and which are provided free of charge will not be included on a list of items for which these payments are allocated. “The list will include items which are not paid from compulsory medical insurance. Financial compensation will be available for the purchase of goods and services that enhance the social adaptation and integration of disabled children into society. The list will be wide-ranging which we are prepared to discuss with all interested parties”, Petrova added.
According to Petrova, the list of rehabilitation services and compensation payment rules will be determined at Government level. A new clause has been suggested for inclusion in the law on lump sum financial support payments which would specify the various types of expenditures targeted at the rehabilitation of disabled children. The Bill has so far been agreed with five departments, while the Ministry of Finance has yet to express a view.
“We believe that this initiative will provide considerable help and support for families with disabled children as their needs are much more wide-ranging. Our department is fully committed in helping to ensure that all the necessary rehabilitative aids get to those families raising disabled children”, Petrova added.
According to figures from the Ministry of Labour, as of 1 September 2014, 5,300,000 people had been issued with certificates (i.e. indicating that you have a disabled child), which were used by 3,200,000. This being the case, the Ministry does not believe that the proportion of families with disabled children will be excessive, with the Department estimating that the number of people raising disabled children who stand to benefit from this initiative will not exceed 300,000.
“In preparing the list of goods and services for which lump sum payments and other expenditure can be used, it is vital to consult those who best understand the needs of disabled children as this can be a sensitive subject”, said Elena Feoktistova, Director of the Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility and Non-Financial Audit at the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs.
A number of experts see dangers in using this funding for the rehabilitation of disabled children. According to Antonina Dashkina, President of the Union of Social Pedagogues and Social Workers, rehab services for children must be provided free of charge, with the lump sums spent on housing and disabled children’s education. “If the lump sums are put towards rehabilitation expenditure, it will mean that money for housing and children’s education will be diluted and spent on other needy causes. There’s a danger that expensive equipment will be purchased, which is undoubtedly required, but the lump sum payments are just as important in providing housing and helping with disabled children’s education”, Dashkina added.
Many experts are opposed to new spending initiatives, based on the risk that responsibility for the rehabilitation of disabled children could be shifted to parents at regional level. The authorities could say: “We have no money in the budget, but you have lump sum funding”, said Sergey Pibalchenko, Chairman of the Committee on Social Policy at the All-Russian organisation “Business Russia”.
“Parents of disabled children cannot always gain access to necessary resources for rehabilitation which are not included on the federal list. If lump sum payments can be used for providing appropriate facilities in an apartment, then this could provide social adaptation for a child in the home”, stated Olga Zabralova, Minister for Innovation and Social Welfare for the Moscow Region.
There are currently 18,000 disabled children living in the Moscow region. 16,500 live with their families, while the remainder are orphans.
Author: Yulia Vyatkina