Ukraine Comes Closer to Modern Management of Social Services
The Law of Ukraine "On Amending Certain Laws of Ukraine on Social Services» (№ 4523-VI) has come into force. According to the UN Resident Coordinator in Ukraine Mr Olivier Adam, the changes stipulated by the Law will make it possible to introduce modern approaches to social services management. «The Law has created preconditions for development of the social services market. From now on, social services – including those financed from the state budget – can be provided by any enterprise, institution or organization, regardless of their ownership and management form, as well as by individuals. A mechanism of social commissioning for services has been introduced. The new Law takes into account relevant proposals made by experts of the UNDP project "Support to the Social Sector Reform in Ukraine", Mr Adam noted.
The principles for provision of such services were defined in the Law of Ukraine "On Social Services", adopted in 2004. “It was sufficiently progressive at the time, but we were aware of the shortcomings in that regulation, which hinged upon the Soviet model of state or municipal institutions, limiting opportunities to involve private providers. Imperfection or lack of specific definitions of terms, absence of a list of services, did not make it possible to develop the sphere of social services. The new Law, which encompasses changes in three Laws, namely “On Public Associations”, "On State Social Standards and State Social Guarantees" and "On Social Services", specifies the rules for activities in the sector", says Ms Irina Tarabukina, Director of the Social Services Department under the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine.
What do those changes mean for an average citizen? According to Kateryna Rybalchenko, a UNDP Programme Manager, most importantly, they create conditions for the social services quality improvement by creating a competitive environment for service providers, introduction of service quality standards and indicators, and application of a mechanism that envisages service provision based on identified needs of people.
Previously, services could only be provided by state and municipal institutions and organisations, and to a certain extent, by NGOs. Now commercial enterprises and private individuals can also do it. The expansion of the range of eligible entities will promote competition between suppliers wishing to win government contracts to provide social services. The authorities can "commission" services for people by contracting various organizations and private individuals. To determine what services are to be commissioned, local bodies of executive power and self-government, in accordance with the amendments to the Law of Ukraine "On Social Services", must assess what social needs the populations in their communities have, determine what services will meet those needs, and ensure that they are provided. In case such services are absent, the authorities can "commission", that is, "buy" them from organizations, commercial enterprises or private individuals providing them.
Olena Ivanova, Project Manager of the UNDP Project "Support to the Social Sector Reform in Ukraine", believes that improved service quality and lower prices can be factors to be considered in the competition between potential suppliers. In that respect, it is important to make sure that service providers seeking to minimize costs do not compromise the service quality. The innovations take that aspect into account, too. First, services can only be provided by entities that meet state-stipulate criteria for activities. Second, service providers must comply with the standards of service. The new Law envisages development and implementation of state standards that define requirements for the content, scope, rules and regulations, conditions and procedures for provision of social services; it also establishes indicators to determine whether or not a service was provided in a quality manner.
Commenting on the importance of implementation of service standards, Taras Bryzhovaty, Executive Director of the "Bethany Social Service" Charitable organization, noted that the precise requirements as to what a service should be like, are an important factor for an impartial and objective scrutiny of service provision on part of both the authorities and consumers, as well as an effective tool to ensure their quality.
Representatives of the non-state sector gave an overall positive assessment of the innovation.
Natalia Skrypka, Executive Director of the National Assembly of People with Disabilities, said the changes adopted are extremely important for the development of the civil society in Ukraine, since they create preconditions for placement of service orders with public organisations.
The Law defines the mechanism for provision of social services by NGOs on a paid basis. Amendments to the Law of Ukraine "On Public Associations" provide that registered public associations and their unions can directly carry out necessary non-for-profit economic activities, as well as economic and other business activities by creation of self-supporting institutions and organizations with the status of a legal entity, or by founding of enterprises.
Chairperson of the "Labour and Health Social Initiatives» (LHSI) International Public Organisation Natalia Lukyanova expressed the following opinion about the new Law: “It is important that new mechanisms incorporated in the Law enable us to maintain and strengthen the third sector, to attract socially responsible businesses, and to improve partnerships in the social sphere. That Law has been long awaited by the society. Many professional discussions were held about what changes are to be made, what they can influence and which practices should be a priority. But most importantly, the purpose of these changes was to improve the life standards of those people who need help, support, information and other social services, primarily at the community level, at their place of residence. All that is a truly European policy, aimed at people as the main consumers of social services.”
The newly adopted document also produces an important effect on development of social entrepreneurship in Ukraine, which is still in its infancy. This will be promoted by opportunities to operate as social service providers now granted to commercial organizations.
Experts of the UNDP Project "Support to the Social Sector Reform in Ukraine" were involved in the drafting of the Law. Between the first and second reading of the draft Law, a meeting was held between the UN Resident Coordinator in Ukraine Mr Olivier Adam and Vice Prime Minister - Minister of Social Policy of Ukraine Mr Serhiy Tigipko; a number of meetings between the project experts and the Ministry was also held, during which the draft Law was discussed. Proposals to the draft Law were prepared and sent for comments.
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