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In the 2021 Finance Bill, the following policies and projects are relevant for the social inclusion of young people:
- The Children First: The government and its supporting parties agree to better support socially marginalised and placed children. In 2021, the government intends to present a policy proposal, The Children First, to better support the target group, for instance by better ensuring a safer transition to adulthood and improved rights. Also see section 1.9.
- During the corona pandemic, people with disabilities have been isolated and often lonely. Therefore, DKK 16 million has been allocated in 2021 to a voucher measure that grants people with disabilities extra hours of support in order for them to participate in out-of-home activities.
- An improved measure targeting children and young people who have suffered from digital violations. An increasing number of children and young people experience online sharing of private and transgressive information, photos or videos without their consent. Therefore, DKK 4 million has been allocated in 2021 and 2022 to Save the Children’s counselling service Erase It. See section 6.8.
- Funding of the association Support to Victims of Violence. DKK 1 million has been allocated in 2021 and in 2022 to victims of violence, robbery, rape and other forms of sexual abuse.
In the government’s presentation of next year’s bills, the following bills fall under the Ministry of Social Affairs and Senior Citizens:
- Amendment of the Act on Prohibition of Discrimination Based on Disabilities. The objective of the amendment is to clarify that children and young people with disabilities have the right to a reasonable modification in day care and primary and lower secondary education in order for them to obtain the same possibilities as other children and to strengthen inclusion.
- Amendment of the Act on Social Services. The objective of the amendment is to ensure a better transition to adulthood for young people with disabilities or severe chronic illness. The bill obliges municipalities to initiate a cross-sectoral and coherent dialogue with the young person and his/her parents when the young person turns 16 years.
Placement of children and youth outside of the home
The Danish government is currently working on a reform of the rules on placement of children and youth outside of the home. The reform will be proposed during fall 2020. See section 1.9
The Danish government has put together a committee that has to look into possibilities for creating new rules and legislation on placing children and young people, who are raised in radicalized environments outside of the home. The committee has to make sure that all problems and dilemmas, including Denmark’s international obligations, are taken into account in the government’s proposals on placing children of foreign fighters outside of the home. The government expects to be able to put forward a bill based on the committee’s conclusions during fall 2020.
10 year plan for psychiatry
The government is currently working on a 10-year plan for psychiatry. At the moment, the work is in the exploratory phase, aiming to make an overview that covers the challenges attached to psychiatric care in the healthcare system as well as in social services.
In the political understanding between the Social-Democratic minority government and its three supporting parties, the parties have agreed that the new government will:
- Improve the opportunities for people with special needs. There must be quality and legal certainty when it comes to the offers available to people with special needs and functional impairments, and the efforts must be characterised by a high degree of professionalism and the required specialisations. Together with relevant actors, the new government will complete an evaluation of the current planning and organisation of the special needs area with a view towards strengthening the initiatives, national knowledge sharing, and ensuring the most suitable distribution of tasks between municipalities and regions. The new government will take the initiative to provide young people with special needs or functional impairments better opportunities to take an education.
- Add clarity to the formulation on the prohibition against creating or staying in so-called ‘intimidating camps’ and the related option for the police to issue a zone ban, so that it is made clear that the intention is to act against individuals who have settled in permanent camps and not homeless people who are forced to sleep outdoors.
- Improve the initiatives aimed at helping and reducing the number of homeless people.
- Reduce the self-payments for dental care – and ideally make it completely free – for the most socially vulnerable.
- Combat child poverty. Irrespective of a child’s background and their parent’s circumstances, it must be ensured that all children in Denmark grow up under decent conditions and have the opportunity to take an active part in the community. The new government will combat poverty and will therefore introduce a poverty limit to enable monitoring of the development. Combating poverty will also be one of the purposes of creating a benefits commission, which must present recommendations within the benefits area within 12 months. These recommendations will serve to alleviate problems related to child poverty, increase labour market participation, and simplify the benefits system.
- Until the commission has presented its recommendations, affected families with children will be offered targeted assistance. An annual 250–300 million DKK will be allocated for temporary cash child benefits to be implemented as soon as possible and to be aimed at children aged 0–14 years old in families covered by the unemployment assistance limit or the integration benefits limit. The temporary cash benefit will cease when a future benefits system is implemented.
- Cancel the approved reduction of integration benefits as per 1 January 2020, which has also been included in the earmarked financing.
The social system
The social system in Denmark targets a group of the population with very complex problems. Homeless people may also be mentally ill and have problems with drug abuse. The system is not able to treat several problems at the same time, and measures often target mental illness or drug abuse individually. Socially marginalised people fall between the cracks.
In the government’s presentation of the coming bills in the parliamentary year 2020/21, the minister for social affairs and senior citizens will present a bill that allows municipalities to introduce coherent measures for citizens with complex problems. The bill has been delayed due to the covid-19 pandemic.Ongoing debates
As a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown of society in spring and again in December 2020, young people cannot participate in associational life to the same extent as previously. This has spurred a debate on young people’s inability to thrive and loneliness because of their isolation and exclusion from communities in which they normally participate. Several representatives from education institutions, politicians, youth organisations, researchers and young people have expressed concern over young people’s well-being during the coronavirus lockdown of society. When schools and leisure activities are locked down, and restrictions reduce the number of social contacts, young people are isolated in their families. The isolation gives rise to loneliness, insecurity and a failure to thrive.
For socially marginalised young people, who are one of the most vulnerable groups among young people, it is particularly disturbing to be isolated with parents whose ability to care is reduced. This could be in families with abuse, alcohol problems, violence, etc. The isolation may aggravate the young people’s situation, since the support from pedagogues, teachers and other important adults is missing.
The number of homeless people in Denmark has been rising, but has stabilised between 2017 and 2019.
The 2019 VIVE homeless report concludes that the number of homeless people is decreasing in the larger cities in Denmark, but the number of homeless people is increasing in rural municipalities.
Young homeless people tend to avoid the rough environments at the shelters. Young homeless people are often sleeping at friends and relatives, known as couch sleepers (sofasovere). Couch sleepers are in greater risk of rape, abuse, and physical assault.
Young people in homelessness or at risk of homelessness can have different needs than elder people in homelessness. Therefore, the political agreement on the implementation of reserve funds on measures within social welfare, health and employment of 2020 includes a strengthened effort in the implementation of Housing First for people in homelessness, wherein special funds for Housing First adapted to accommodate the life situations of young people in homelessness or at risk of homelessness are allocated.
Treatment of young trans persons with gender identity issues
In Denmark, transgender hormone therapy is offered to young people under the age of 18. The hormone treatment is combined with consultations and conversations with medical specialists and psychologists. In recent years, the number of young people in hormone therapy has been rising. Since 2015, 500 children and young people have been referred by their GP, and 159 children and young people have received hormone treatment.
Health practitioners and experts agree that hormone therapy should be offered to children and young people, because without treatment the target group is at high risk of developing anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts.
On the other hand, the treatment is irreversible and medical specialist do not know the long-term consequences of the treatment.
Politicians on both sides of the political spectrum agree that it is a complex dilemma that needs more knowledge.
The debate on gender identity is present in the primary and lower secondary education institutions, because trans persons challenge the traditional physical layout of the schools. Where should trans persons shower after physical education and which toilet should they use? Which group do they belong to when the teacher divides the class into boys and girls?
A government initiative on strengthened rights and possibilities for LGBTI persons is still waiting to be presented in parliament for adoption. See section 4.3.