4.6 Access to quality services
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Data on the proportion of young people living in a parental household in Slovenia (see ‘Youth 2010’, 'Youth 2020', Eurostat) show a clear and stable trend of delayed departure. Access to housing for young people in Slovenia is limited by a number of structural factors that include limited supply and affordability of housing for sale or rent. Another limiting factor young people’s financial situation, which is linked to their employment; as they are at the beginning of their employment career, they have lower incomes and are often employed on fixed term contracts.
The Housing Act places particular emphasis on resolving the housing problems of young people and young families, identifying young people as the key target group for allocation of rented social housing by the municipalities. The Act Amending the Act on the National Housing Savings Scheme and Subsidies for Young Families Solving Their Housing Problem for the First Time was adopted in July 2007. The main goal of the proposed amendments was to provide subsidies to the broadest possible group of young families, who have started to resolve their housing problems by purchasing, constructing or reconstructing a housing unit or residential building, stimulated by state subsidies.
Youth and young families are classified as a vulnerable group in the context of housing and are prioritised in a number of state initiatives. However, their access to housing remains limited, as in the majority of cases, the number of applicants for subsidies, non-profit housing and financial assistance far outstrips the available funds.
The basic framework of housing policy and its measure in Slovenia comprises two policy documents: the 2003 Housing Act and the Resolution on the National Housing Programme 2015–2025 (Resolucija o nacionalnem stanovanjskem programu 2015–2025). Young people’s housing conditions are also referred to in the National Programme for Youth, priority field 4: Housing conditions of youth. The National Programme for Youth in Slovenia defines two objectives in this regard:
- The provision of capacity and systematically regulated availability of housing for young people
- The availability of housing for young people and the establishment of support mechanisms
In aiming to attain the EU average for age of departure of young people from the parental household, the Programme lists the following eight priority subsections.
- Preparation of legal basis for the provision of housing for young people (Ministry of Infrastructure). Indicators include the percentage of young people between 25 and 29 living with their parents and the average age of young people emigrating from parent households.
- Establishing favourable housing loans for young people (Ministry of Finance). Indicator: Number of credits granted to young people under the guarantee scheme (or similar credit scheme).
- Strengthening and promoting the market for public rental housing (so controlling market rents) (Ministry of Infrastructure, Ministry of Finance).
- Optimising use of empty dwellings (Ministry of Infrastructure).
- Promoting alternative housing—housing co-operatives (Ministry of Infrastructure).
- Strengthening support mechanisms of the Housing Fund of the Republic of Slovenia; target population also includes young families and young couples, single and youth on leaving educational institutions and foster care (Ministry of Infrastructure; Housing Fund of the Republic of Slovenia). Indicators: Subsidies to young families/young couples/single young people for the purchase, construction, reconstruction and rental of apartments following discharge from educational institutions and foster care.
- Creating a single focal point (website) where young people can find or get all information about access to housing (under the auspices of the youth sector). Indicator: Visits to the information point (website).
- Evaluating existing measures (subsidies for ensuring access to housing for young people) (Ministry of Infrastructure). Indicator: Number of evaluations.
Financial plan (funding) for housing: all 8 priority subsections are funded from the National budget of the Republic of Slovenia. The first priority subsection has additional sources from the Public-Private Partnership and the EU funds.
Based on the results of a survey of the rental market, the Youth Council of Slovenia decided to establish a housing counselling office to address young people’s housing problems and to improve the activities of the Youth Council in this regard (Si21). Youth organisations have also voiced critical views concerning the suitability and efficiency of housing policies in addressing young people’s key housing problems. However, only a small percentage of youth organisations actually deal with this issue.
The National Strategy for Literacy (Nacionalna strategija za razvoj pismenosti), under the auspices of the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport, was adopted in 2006 to promote better integration of children and youth from migrant backgrounds into their new environment. In 2009, the Council of Experts of the RS adopted guidelines for the education of immigrant children as a supplement to the Strategy. In October 2012, the guidelines were renewed to encompass the inclusion of pre-school and school-age migrant children. The guidelines included instructions, ideas and recommendations for successful learning across all participants. The Resolution on the Master Plan for Adult Education in the Republic of Slovenia for 2013–2020 includes youth and migrants as a target group. The ministry responsible for education has also supported remedial classes on mother tongues and cultures for immigrant elementary school children for a number of years.
In accordance with the Organisation and Financing of Education Act (Zakon o organizaciji in financiranju vzgoje in izobraževanja), the state budget shall also provide
- funds for the drafting and subsidised prices of textbooks and learning materials for elementary school, for schools of national communities and for the education of Slovenian citizens living abroad and of the Roma;
- funds for the education of the Roma (Article 81).
Pupils and students who seek asylum are entitled to a free meal in schools (Exercise of Rights from Public Funds Act, Article 25). They can also borrow textbooks free of charge from the school library. Children from less favourable social and economic environments are also entitled to receive the support and assistance of a kindergarten or school. Schools receive funds for subsidising school meals for socially disadvantaged pupils and students and for subsidising extra-curricular activities for socially disadvantaged pupils.
Subsidies for student housing
The key student housing problem is the lack of student accommodation and of other forms of housing support during the period of study. The Republic of Slovenia grants subsidies to assist students financially in the form of lower rents, amounting to a reduction of at least 20% in average annual student housing costs in Slovenia. The monthly subsidy amounts to €19.50 for a stay in public dormitory, and €32 for a stay in private dormitory or at a private owner of dwelling. Under the auspices of the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport, students and scholarship owners of dwellings must meet certain conditions to secure a guaranteed 10 months of subsidised accommodation annually (from October to June). For more information, see Rules on subsidising the accommodation of students (Pravilnik o subvencioniranju bivanja študentov).
Additionally, the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport issued Regulations on tuition fees and accommodation in students' dormitories for Slovene nationals without Slovene citizenship and foreigners in the Republic of Slovenia (Pravilnik o šolninah in bivanju v študentskih domovih za Slovence brez slovenskega državljanstva in tujce v Republiki Sloveniji).
Measures promoting specific support to young families
The Ministry of Labour, Family and Social Affairs is responsible for transfers to families with children in Slovenia that include (financial) social assistance, family benefits, parental benefits and payment of contributions in case of part-time employment due to parenthood, service subsidies, expenses for education of children and youth and health care for children and youth (including sickness benefit for caring for a sick child). The Council of Slovenia for Children and Families, formed, on the basis of the national Family law, performs professional and consultative tasks for the Government of the Republic of Slovenia, assists it in drafting regulations and monitoring the situation in the field of children and the family, and reports to it on the situation of children's rights in Slovenia. The Council together with the Government adopted the Resolution on Family Policy 2018-2028 "Family-friendly society" which works towards improving family-life, ensuring protection and well-being of families, with emphasis on the children, tackling the subject of young families and their placement on the labor market. The resolution focuses on nine priority areas, namely: family support programs, parental care and family benefits, alternative childcare, family social protection, work-life balance, labor market and employment, health and healthcare, education, care and education and housing issues. An Action Plan to the Resolution on Family Policy 2018–2028 “A Family-Friendly Society” was also established, as part of the monitoring of the ongoing implementation of the Resolution.
Crisis centres for youth
Crisis centres for youth (Krizni centri za mlade) (KCM) have been in operation in the RS since 1995. These organisational units within the Social Work Centre are dedicated to the care of children and adolescents who have been deprived of a stable family life. The purpose of crisis centres is to offer young people shelter and care for a maximum of three weeks, with the possibility of extension. As the sole funder for implementation of KCM, the Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities allocates approximately €2,000,000 annually (almost double the 2008 budget of approximately €1,200,000). Crisis centres for youth operate under the Resolution of National Programme of Family Violence Prevention 2009–2014. The new Resolution on Family Policy 2018-2028 "Family-friendly society" also deals with family violence prevention.
Preventive systematic examinations of new-borns, pre-school and school children, youth and students (Sistematski preventivni pregledi dojenčkov, otrok in mladine) up to 19 years of age are specified in the Rules for primary preventive health care. All such examinations are covered by compulsory health insurance. School children and youth up to 19 years of age are entitled to preventive examinations such as the systematic examination in the first and third grades of secondary school, in the first and third grades of high school and in higher education.
In 2015, the National Institute for Public Health (Nacionalni inštitut za javno zdravje) initiated the For Youth Health (Za zdravje mladih) project to promote a healthier lifestyle among Slovenian youth, youth workers and youth leaders, who have a direct impact on young people’s health. The Institute cooperates with youth organisations such as the National Youth Council of Slovenia, the Scouts Association of Slovenia and the Youth Network No Excuses Slovenia to introduce health promotion programmes in the youth sector. The programme develops educational tools to facilitate upgraded and ongoing work in this area after the project ends. The target groups are children and youth, youth leaders and youth workers and parents. Within this project, a few projects ran at local level in 2016, including It is a Health Case! (Za zdravje gre), 5 Minutes for Me (5 minut zame), Silly doping (NeUMNI doping) and Take Action (Ukrepiziraj).
Treatment for illegal drug users is available through hospital-based and outpatient programmes. For outpatients, the Centres for the Prevention and Treatment of Addiction to Illegal Drugs (Centra za preprečevanje in zdravljenje odvisnih od prepovedanih drog) (CPZOPD) offer programmes at the primary health care level within the public health service framework. Most users are aged between 25 and 29 years, and most first-time CPZOPD users are aged between 20 and 24 years.
The National Act on Health Care Services envisions health centres for students, whose prime task is to provide student health care and preventive health activities (see Article 9).
The government supports children and young people through a range of grants, including
- social assistance
- parental allowance
- child care allowance
- partial payment for lost income
To prevent social exclusion, the Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities provides adequate income support to vulnerable groups. Among these measures are child benefit, subsidies for kindergartens, subsidised school meals and scholarships. The Ministry offers different kinds of scholarships; as explained in Article 2 of The Scholarship Act (Zakon o štipendiranju), scholarships are intended to encourage education and a higher level of educational attainment, establishing equal opportunities in education, encouraging international mobility and shortening the period of studying. The various scholarships are listed in Article 8.
The State scholarship (Državna štipendija) targets vulnerable youth and is issued by the Centre for Social Work. Exercise of Rights from the Public Funds Act specifies that this kind of scholarship is for students above 18 years who are citizens of the Republic of Slovenia and whose monthly income per person in the previous year does not exceed 56% of the net average wage per person in Slovenia (Article 23). Additionally, some banks offer housing loans for young people under certain conditions (e.g. aged up to 35 years; regular monthly salary for at least one year or in permanent employment) and student loans (for all students).
Research on youth policies in municipalities from 2012 (‘Lokalna mladinska politika’) showed that nearly 62% of municipalities implemented programmes for the allocation of social housing to young families. However, these provisions remain quite limited and fail to meet the real needs of young people in accessing housing. The report advanced some proposals for municipality youth housing policy at local level, such as subsidising the purchase, construction or renovation of apartments and houses for young people, and subsidising rents, providing social housing and developing local housing programmes tailored to youth.