Client: Ministry of Social Affairs

Period: 2017

There are almost 13,000 officially designated disabled children in Estonia and the number of disabled children has roughly doubled in the last ten years. The increase in the number of children with disabilities is due to the number of children with severe and moderate disabilities, the number of children with severe disabilities has not changed significantly. Such a large increase in the number of disabled children puts pressure on the social protection system for disabled children and may also affect the livelihoods of families.

The survey extensively maps the profile of families with children with disabilities, their care burden and need for help, the need for and availability of services, economic coping and access to information in the autumn of 2017. The study allows to draw general conclusions about the subsistence and needs of families with children with disabilities, such as:

  • About half of children with disabilities need aids. In general, the necessary tools are also used and meet the needs. However, there are also children who do not use the aid they need at all or use an aid that does not meet their needs.
  • Almost all children with disabilities need some form of social services. However, access to social services is limited and less than half of those in need have had sufficient access to services. The situation is particularly critical with social transport, childcare and support person services, which have not been available to around half of those who have needed them.
  • Children with disabilities are included in the education system and there are few who are excluded, but many children are not included in regular classes in regular schools. The most common problems in schools and kindergartens concern access to on-site rehabilitation services for children with disabilities. Attitudes of teachers, fellow students and other parents, as well as teachers’ skills and knowledge in teaching a child with a disability, are equally common problems at school.
  • A disabled child incurs additional costs for families, which are often not covered by benefits for disabled children. Families with children with disabilities have a worse assessment of their economic coping than is the average for families with children in Estonia.
  • There is an acute problem with the availability of information on services, benefits and assistance for children with disabilities. Information is fragmented between different establishments and levels of government.

The study was commissioned by the Ministry of Social Affairs and funded by the aid funding conditions of European Social Fund “Welfare services that support participation in the labor market”. The survey was conducted by Turu-Uuringute AS.