Services provided by the local government

Local governments provide social services and emergency social assistance to the residents. Every local government establishes the procedure for the provision of assistance with a regulation that contains the description and financing of the services and the conditions and procedure for their application. The list of services and the conditions for receiving them vary in different local governments. The law determines which services the local government must provide; however, in addition to those, the local government can decide which opportunities it offers to residents. The list of these services differs considerably between local governments; information about the specific services provided by a certain local government can be obtained from the rural municipality or city website or the social department.

It is important to know that when you are contacting the local government for assistance, you do not have to apply for a specific service, but for assistance that meets your needs.

The local government then has two tasks: to assess the need for assistance and to determine the assistance that meets these needs. The need for assistance must be assessed in co-operation with the person, thoroughly and objectively (considering more than just the application), i.e. determining if, in what activities and to what extent the person needs help. If needed, a home visit might be arranged during the assessment of need for assistance. It is necessary to take into account the person’s ability to cope, physical and social environment, social network, as well as the person’s will, wishes, motivation, etc. When providing assistance, a service that allows the person to organise their life themselves as much as possible should be preferred.

Pursuant to the Social Welfare Act, a local government must provide the following social services to its residents:

  • Social transport service – to a person who needs transport in order to get to work or an educational institution or use public services but whose disability hinders the use of a personal or public transport vehicle.
  • Childcare service – to a parent or person with right of custody of a child of up to 3 years of age (including a disabled child) and of a person with a severe or profound disability of up to 18 years of age, to support their ability to cope or work.
  • Support person service – to a person who needs significant personal assistance in performing his or her obligations and exercising his or her rights due to social, financial, psychological or health problems.
  • Personal assistant service – to an adult who needs physical assistance due to a disability to cope independently.
  • Domestic service – to a person who needs assistance in domestic activities without which it is not possible to cope. These include, for example, bringing in water and firewood, helping with cooking, etc.
  • Guardianship of adults – to a person who due to mental or physical disability needs assistance in the exercise of his or her rights and the performance of his or her obligations.
  • General care service provided outside home – to a person who has a temporary or permanent need for care that cannot be provided at home.
  • Safe house service – to a child, a family with children or an adult that temporarily needs a safe place to live.
  • Shelter service – to an adult who needs emergency care and for whom failure to provide assistance could endanger his or her health.
  • Provision of dwelling – to a person or family who due to their socio-economic situation is unable to purchase or rent a dwelling which corresponds to the needs of the person.
  • Alternative care service – to ensure the long- or short-term well-being and rights of a child by creating family-like living conditions.
  • Continued care service – to support the ability of a person leaving alternative care and guardianship to cope independently and continue studies.
  • Debt counselling service – to a person who needs counselling regarding his or her financial situation and assistance with solving problems.

If you need a sign language interpreting service due to hearing disability, you can apply for it at your local government.

In addition, if you have a mobility or visual disability or a temporary loss of mobility, it is possible to apply for a parking card for the vehicle of a disabled person in the local government. This card gives you the opportunity to park the vehicle in public paid parking places without charge, to stand and park in a built-up area where road signs prohibiting standing or parking apply, to park in a car park with limited parking time for longer than prescribed, and to park on a road in a calm traffic area outside a car park.

At your local government, you can also apply for adapting your dwelling if you need it due to your disability or special need. You can find more information on the website of the Estonian National Social Insurance Board and for more detailed conditions, contact your city or rural municipality government.

According to the Social Welfare Act, quality principles apply for the provision of social services. Guidelines for the implementation of these principles have been published on the website of the Estonian National Social Insurance Board. Guidelines are created on an ongoing basis and published on the website of the Estonian National Social Insurance Board once completed.

Illustratsioon: ratastoolis inimene uurib plakatit.