Law on social services: 7 key innovations

Law on social services: 7 key innovations

News 07 Jun 2019

For more than three months - since January - the new law on social services was waiting for the signature of the President of Ukraine.

However, this period is much shorter than the years of waiting for changes that should take place in this area.

What exactly are social services?

Why is the reform of the social services system so important?

I will explain in detail.


Without a doubt, the reform of the social services system is the most important in the field of social policy over the last 10 years, because unlike other mechanisms of social protection (benefits, payments, social assistance, subsidies) it can really help a person to overcome or minimize the consequences of difficult life circumstances.

Usually, when we hear "social services", we imagine the registration of a subsidy, birth allowance or simply receiving another certificate from the social security department.

However, social services have nothing to do with the above-mentioned administrative services.

According to the new law:

Social services are actions aimed at preventing difficult life circumstances, overcoming such circumstances or minimizing their negative consequences for individuals/families who are in them.

It is also worth separately emphasizing the following concept:

Difficult life circumstances (hereinafter referred to as "complex life circumstances") are circumstances that negatively affect the life, health and development of a person, the functioning of the family, which the person/family cannot overcome on their own.

To understand what social services are, it will help us to consider the life situation of the Ivanchuk family:

- father Stepan, 38 years old - works seasonally, sometimes abuses alcohol;

- mother Olga, 35 years old - does not work, is on maternity leave, has health problems (needs surgery, but cannot leave 2 children without care);

- son Dmytro, 9 years old - a child with a disability (subgroup A - needs constant round-the-clock care), is always at home;

- son Ivan, 9 years old - a child with a disability (muscle-motor system disorder), studies in a special school 50 km from home, parents take him home for the holidays.

A social work specialist who visited the family determined that the family is low-income and is in a nursing home.

The Ivanchuks already receive support from the state and the community in the form of cash payments (assistance for children with disabilities, an allowance for caring for a child with a disability, assistance for low-income families), as well as a subsidy for the payment of housing and communal services, benefits, and sometimes financial assistance from the community.

Do these numerous measures help to overcome the SHO in which the family found itself?

Obviously not. Because their problem is not a lack of funds (at least not the main one), but the fact that the parents, for various reasons, are unable to provide for the family and cope with these circumstances on their own.

Material assistance from the community is not able to change the father’s attitude to his responsibility for the family (unfortunately, often the opposite), assistance to low-income families will not help the mother to solve health issues, disability payments will socialize Dmytro in the community and return him to the family Ivan...

Only the provision of high-quality social services will be able to overcome SZHO in the Ivanchuk family, namely:

- the whole family should be under the social support of a social work specialist, whose task, in particular, consists in assessing the situation and drawing up an individual plan, training and development of skills, assistance in receiving psychological help, informing counseling, etc.;

- Stepan's father should receive a social adaptation service, which includes, in particular, correction of psychological state and behavior in everyday life, provision of psychological support, assistance in employment, assistance in strengthening/restoring family and socially useful ties;

- mother Olga needs a temporary rest service for parents or persons who replace them, who take care of children with disabilities - this will give her the opportunity to go to the hospital, have an operation and improve her health;

- son Dmytro needs social day care services - this means staying in centers and departments for children with disabilities during the day under the supervision of specialists, where children receive rehabilitation services, where their self-care skills are formed and supported, psychological support is provided, and leisure activities are organized;

- son Ivan must return home - live in a family and study in the community, in an inclusive class. There, he can receive social support services during inclusive education.

On the condition of receiving these services, the life of the Ivanchuk family has a chance to improve and SHO can be overcome or at least their negative consequences can be minimized.

Currently, the "old" law on social services, which was adopted in 2003, is in force. Most of the services listed above can be provided for a long time: standards have been developed and the system seems to be ready.

What prevented this? Why was it necessary to adopt a new law?

The answer is below, in seven key innovations that will come into effect on January 1, 2020:


  1. Social services are the own powers of communities

From next year, the executive bodies of city councils, cities of regional importance and councils of united territorial communities are responsible for ensuring the provision of social services in accordance with the law.


The powers of these bodies will include, in particular, determining the needs of the population in social services, informing about their list, ensuring their financing, as well as ensuring the improvement of competence and qualifications of social service providers.


Kyiv and Sevastopol city state administrations, district and district state administrations in the cities of Kyiv and Sevastopol, executive bodies of city councils of cities of regional significance, as well as executive bodies of village, settlement, city councils of united territorial communities directly ensure the provision of basic social services.


  1. Basic social services

This is one of the greatest victories of this law. Very soon, in each community, if there is a need, the following services should be developed, which can be conditionally divided into the following groups:


- preventive/prophylactic: counseling, informing, social prevention;

- for persons/families caught in difficult life circumstances: social support, social adaptation, social integration and reintegration, in-kind assistance, representation of interests, mediation (mediation);

- for persons with disabilities and the elderly: assisted living, care at home, physical support of persons with disabilities who have musculoskeletal disorders and move around in wheelchairs, visual impairments, sign language translation;

- for children with disabilities: support during inclusive education, day care;

- crisis services: emergency (crisis) intervention; providing asylum;

- for orphans and children deprived of parental care: care and upbringing of children in conditions close to family.


As you can see, the list is quite large and this is due to the fact that all these services should be provided in the community, as close as possible to the residence of the person who needs them.


  1. Demonopolization of the market

The law establishes uniform requirements for social service providers of all forms of ownership: state, communal and non-state.


Providers of social services of the non-state sector include enterprises, institutions, organizations, public associations, charitable, religious organizations, natural persons - entrepreneurs and natural persons who provide social care services in accordance with this law without carrying out entrepreneurial activities.

It was determined that providers of the non-state sector can be involved through social procurement, public-private partnership, social project competition, social programs, etc.

Ensuring the provision of social services through social ordering is carried out by compensating social service providers for the cost of the social services provided by them.


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