4.6 Access to quality services
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Supervised residential communities for young people and young adults
For young people and young adults who are in a difficult social situation there are several supervised residential communities in Eupen.
These residential communities accept children and young people who find themselves in difficulties and need help with social integration. So people who had problems getting on with their families, who come out of a treatment unit (because of drug or alcohol consumption or mental health problems) or who have been in prison live there for a temporary period.
These residential communities are operated by the two organisations OIKOS and SIA.
For young people under 18 the request to live there must be made to the young people’s welfare services. In principle the parent or guardian must consent to the project.
For young adults in most situations working together with the Public Welfare Centre (Öffentliches Sozialhilfezentrum, ÖSHZ) is necessary for financial reasons.
SIA sees itself as a therapeutic residential community and has a special application process. To be accepted there, a project must be drafted with the person responsible in which the objective of his stay in the community is specified. In addition, before acceptance an interview takes place with the residents of the residential community who must agree to a new resident.
This residential community also accepts young mothers with children.
The staff (psychologists, social workers and childcare workers) support the residents both in their professional and in their social integration, they accompany them to visits to authorities, find therapy places where needed and prepare the transition into an independent living situation together with them. SIA has 7 places, 5 of which are intended for adults and 2 places for young people from 16 years of age on the request of the youth court or the youth welfare service. A waiting period of a few weeks is to be expected.
OIKOS operates several residential communities, the Jordan house being reserved for young people from youth welfare. Here an application must be made via the youth welfare service and it must be demonstrated that it is no longer possible for the whole family for the young person to continue living at home.
The two other houses in Eupen and Raeren are reserved for young adults. The staff (social workers and childcare workers) support the residents in their professional and in their social integration, they accompany them to visits to authorities, find therapy places where needed and prepare the transition into an independent living situation together with them. The various residential communities have a total of 4 places for young people and 8 places for young adults. A waiting period of a few weeks is to be expected.
Alongside the residential communities, OIKOS also organises off-site family support on behalf of the youth welfare service or the youth court and social support of young people and children in difficult situations who live alone or with their families on the request of the court of first instance, of the social services or of the person concerned himself throughout the area of the German-speaking Community.
Between June 2015 and December 2015 community meeting places in the German-speaking Community were set up. The government recognised them officially or gave them a provisional recognition.
The basis is the decree of 5 May 2014 on the recognition and promotion of community meeting places in the German-speaking Community (Dekret vom 05. Mai 2014 zur Anerkennung und Förderung von sozialen Treffpunkten). The community meeting places are intended to encourage the participation of all citizens of the German-speaking Community in economic, political, social and cultural life and promote the exchange of knowledge and experience and active citizenship.
The provision of the community meeting places is intended for all citizens of the German-speaking Community. However, in the first place they should be aimed at all needs of the citizens who live in the sphere of influence of the community meeting place.
Special attention is paid by the community meeting places to people who are threatened by social exclusion or live in social exclusion. What does this mean in reality? These persons have a more difficult access to the basic rights such as education, culture or the right to information.
Specifically the community meeting places pursue the following aims:
- strengthening the diversity of society and the social cohesion of the citizens
- preventing and reducing isolation
- making it possible to experience esteem and recognition
- promoting autonomy and supporting people to identify and articulate their own needs and interests
- empowering people for self-organisation and self-help.
Coordinators work in the community meeting places. They are the contact persons for the visitors, develop services and activities and coordinate them. They are supported by voluntary workers.
The job of Kaleido Eastbelgium (Kaleido Ostbelgien) is to promote the healthy mental, physical and social development of children and young people in the German-speaking Community. This starts right with caring for expectant mothers and ends in advising and supporting young adults up to the age of 20. The staff are psychologists, nurses, doctors and social assistants who work together in a team and thus ensure an integrated approach. In the German-speaking Community there is a Kaleido head office as well as 4 Kaleido hubs in order to be able to provide what may be low-threshold support.
Kaleido offers schoolchildren, parents and teachers various services:
- Advice and support at nursery, on the transition nursery-primary school
- Information and advice on the transition from primary school to secondary school
- Group activities in consultation with the school to promote the personal development of the pupils and living together in the class group
- Advice and support in the choice of degree course or career.
- Preventive healthcare: early childhood medicals, school medicals, range of vaccinations, promotion of health literacy (dental prophylaxis, healthy nutrition, promotion of sexual health, safety in the home, at school, in the workplace etc.)
Kaleido is also the contact for preventive healthcare for schoolchildren and also offers vaccinations. The aim of the medicals is the early identification of health problems. The pupils are required to undergo the examinations. In the years in-between additional partial examinations (e.g. sight and hearing tests, growth etc.) may be carried out.
The parents are not obliged to accept the offer of free vaccinations. They can also have their children vaccinated by the family doctor or paediatrician. But it is important that the school doctor is informed about their child’s vaccinations (those already carried out, not yet carried out, any reasons for missing vaccinations, etc.)
In the event of certain diseases, the staff of Kaleido make an effort to avoid the spread of infection in the school area. So all parents are requested to inform the school if their child has an infectious disease. If another child in a child’s class is suffering from a specific infectious disease, the parents will be informed in writing.
Advisory Board for Health Promotion (Beirat für Gesundheitsförderung)
Organisations from the healthcare area and the Ministry of the German-speaking Community develop concepts and projects for health promotion. Examples: healthy nutrition and movement, tackling obesity (EU-wide topic), promotion of mental health, awareness-raising for the situation of children of mentally ill parents. The Board also works on reports that are e.g. fed into the Regional Development Concept (Regionales Entwicklungskonzept, REK).
The legal basis for the Advisory Board is the Decree on Health Promotion of 01 June 2004 (Dekret zur Gesundheitsförderung vom 01. Juni 2004).
Debt Advisory Service
A person in difficulties with debt can claim help from the Debt Advisory Service centres.
The number of over-indebted households is also on the increase in the German-speaking Community: Separation or divorce, unemployment, illness or poor household management often lead to the debt trap.
“Over-indebtedness” occurs when the income or replacement income available is no longer adequate to meet all financial obligations in time.
The German-speaking Community has recognised the debt advisory centres by law and laid down their work. The legal basis are two decrees: the Decree on the Establishment of a Debt Relief Fund in the German-speaking Community of 14 December 1992 (Dekret zur Einrichtung eines Entschuldungsfonds in der Deutschsprachigen Gemeinschaft vom 14. Dezember 1992) and the Decree on Debt Counseling and Debt Relief of 29 April 1996 (Dekret über Schuldnerberatung und Entschuldung vom 29. April 1996). Additionally, there are edicts for every specific and officially recognised debt advisory center, which need to be renewed after certain time frames.
The staff of the recognised debt advisory services first listen carefully to the person/s concerned and together with them try to draw up as detailed an analysis as possible of the situation: a complete list of all incomings and outgoings, including credit repayments, mortgages and amounts of debt with the respective creditors. Then the debt advisers support those concerned during the whole process of debt reduction, talk to the creditors, etc.
Recognised debt advisory service centres in the German-speaking Community:
- the Public Social Welfare Centre of the municipality of St. Vith
- the joint debt advisory service centre of the municipalities of Eupen, Kelmis and Lontzen
- the consumer protection centre of Eupen is the debt advisory service for the municipalities of Amel, Büllingen, Burg-Reuland and Bütgenbach
There is no overall quality control for the services offered. Each service conducts its own quality control.
In many areas (youth welfare, recognised social enterprises, etc.) the government uses so-called monitoring committees in which the implementation of the management contracts is monitored. Generally representatives of the organisations as well as the municipalities also join in the meetings. Furthermore the annual activity reports of the enterprises, enable a picture to be formed of the development of social integration in the German-speaking Community and to direct policy accordingly. No least numerous studies are likewise being written and statistics collected such as the poverty report of the German-speaking Community in collaboration with the University of Mons (Armutsbericht).