Vulnerable groups will be better informed about social services

06 Jun 2014

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A mobile social protection office specialist provides information

"Where can I get help? Where should I go?" Such questions often come to mind when a person unexpectedly faces a difficult life situation, like the loss of family member, substance abuse, surviving violence, or lack of social interactions due to retirement or disease.

 It can be quite difficult to find information on social services in Ukraine and organizations that provide them. Therefore many Ukrainians are unaware of the availability of such services and where to get them.

 During a two-day workshop conducted June 4-5 in Kiev, professionals working in social protection system agencies in different regions in Ukraine had an opportunity to discuss practical aspects of implementing a new model for public awareness of social services in Ukraine. 

 The new model aims to improve people's access to social services and raise awareness about them.

Last year the UNDP Project “Support to the Social Sector Reform in Ukraine”, working jointly with the Ministry of Social Policy in Ukraine, piloted a new approach to informing the public in the Poltava oblast. This year the project developed and released the handbook “Public Awareness of Social and Rehabilitation Services” and currently provides training for professionals of the social protection state agencies from different regions in Ukraine, who, in turn, will train their colleagues.

 “Creating a system of public awareness on available social services is one part of the State Strategy of Reforming the System of Social Services in Ukraine, approved by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine in August 2012. The reform anticipates that actively engaging people in the process and strengthening public awareness will help to bring people in need to the social services agencies. This is the reason that the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine initiated this process. Local authorities on social protection should organize public awareness measures in a way that every citizen will know when, where and to whom they should address their problems. The Ministry, with the support of the UNDP Project “Support to the Social Sector Reform in Ukraine”, developed a draft normative document – Methodical Recommendations on Public Awareness on Social Services - which provides step-by-step instructions on how to implement the new model of public awareness into regular practice. This document is currently being discussed and soon it will be approved”, explained Irina Tarabukina, the Head of the Social Services Department of the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine.  

 “The Methodical Recommendations on Public Awareness on Social Services give a clear instruction on how to convey information to people in the most comprehensive way. The best way is to produce information cards describing social services in a user-friendly manner, and providing information about the service provided by each agency, its working hours, a list of necessary documents required to obtain service, and other relevant information. Each information card aims to provide complete information about a particular service to potential or existing social services clients and should meet ISO 9001-2000 and ISO 9001-2008 standards. We also recommend appointing a designated professional in every local social protection department, who is able to provide information to the people on all social services and their providers in the community, both governmental and non-governmental. Having a hotline, online counseling, FAQs, leaflets and booklets are also good ways to keep the public informed. The recommendations also explain in detail how to work with media, place information on the Internet and engage partner organizations, such as schools, clinics, law enforcement institutions, and others”, noted Olena Ivanova, Project Manager of the UNDP Project “Support to the Social Sector Reform in Ukraine”. 

“People vary in their ability to perceive new information. For example, some people might have visual or auditory impairments. One person feels more comfortable talking to a consultant, while someone else likes to learn information by reading it. Therefore information should be presented in different ways, verbal and written form, in plain language, with no obscure abbreviations, and in certain cases, such as for children, with illustrations”, explained Tatiana Semygina, Prof. PhD , consultant to the UNDP Project “Support to Social Sector Reform in Ukraine”.

 “It is equally important to apply the principles of Universal Design, or Design for All, in the way that the information is presented to different types of people, who may vary in their levels of perception and sensory abilities. For example, the sign on the information stand should be printed with at least 16 font size, while the stand itself should be properly lit and located at the eye level, and be comfortably accessed by a person who is in a wheelchair”, added Kristina Bagramian, Project Manager of the UNDP, UNICEF, WHO, ILO Joint Programme “Promoting Mainstream Policies and Services for People with Disabilities in Ukraine”.

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 You can read the Handbook "Public Awareness of Social and Rehabilitation Services" at this link online or you can get a hard copy from the project office by sending a request to: alina.stetsenko@undp.org.

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United Nations Development Programme «Support to the Social Sector Reform in Ukraine»

The project supports the Government of Ukraine and the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine in accelerating the implementation of reforms in the social sector and achieving Ukraine’s short- and medium-term social and economic development goals.

Since the project was implemented in 2011, proposals have been drafted for pension reform in Ukraine, administrative reform in the social sphere, and the optimization of institutions that provide social services. Moreover, over 26 regulations on social services have been developed.

With project support, over 1,200 representatives from departments of social protection and service providers from all regions of Ukraine have been trained on the new issues of social service planning, management, and delivery (such as assessment of community needs in social services, social commissioning, quality control, standards, public awareness, calculation of costs of social service, etc.).

Advisory support has been given to the local authorities of all 26 regions of Ukraine for implementing social commissioning, and local authorities and social institutions in Poltava oblast piloted a model for public awareness on social services.