Disabled Child

Birth of a disabled child, severe illness of a child or health-deteriorating accident always represents a big challenge and change of life for parents. Disabled children usually require more attention and caring; parents also have to start looking for information that will help them to cope better in the new situation. Like with any other child, parents are the main caretakers and providers, however, additional assistance is available to satisfy disability-related needs of the child. Identification of severity of the disability of a child will entitle parents to various social services, supports and benefits, available from the state and local governments. The functions, related to assisting disabled children and their parents are divided between the central and local government. 

State Assistance

  • Social Benefits for Disabled Persons Act provides the grounds for the payment of disabled child allowance and education allowance. Children aged 16-17 years can get benefits and allowances, available for disabled, working-age people. See more from the website of the Social Insurance Board.
  • Rehabilitation service that includes appraisal of rehabilitation requirements and planning of activities, supervision and evaluation of the implementation of planned activities, services of a physiotherapist, services of activity and creative therapist and services offered by social worker, special pedagogue, psychologist and speech therapist. See more from the website of the Social Insurance Board.
  • Lawful representative or caretaker of a child with severe or profound disability is entitled to child care services, funded by the state, for the amount of 402 € per year; applications will be filed  to rural municipality or city government of the child’s place of residence. See more from the Social Welfare Act.
  • Evaluation of need for technical aid and allocation of such aids; sales, rent and refunding of technical aids.
  • Maintenance and care of disabled children, deprived of parental care, at social welfare institutions.
 

Services that local governments could offer

  • Social counselling
  • Support person for a family

  • Support person for a child
  • Personal assistant for a child
  • Psychological counselling
  • Additional funding of rehabilitation services
  • Additional funding of technical aids
  • Child care services, incl. in social welfare institutions
  • Transport for disabled persons
  • Day care centres
  • Caregiver’s allowance and related social welfare insurance
  • Training courses for parents and children
  • Supports and benefits
  • Events and creation and support to self-aid groups of parents
  • Emergency clothing and food aid
  • Fitting/accommodation of living premises
 
 
Education
 

Nursery Schools

 
Rural municipality or city government will create opportunities for developing and growing up in a child care institution of their place of residence for children with physical, speech, mental or sensory impairment (hereinafter the children with special needs). Children with special needs will be given the conditions to be brought up at adjustment groups, with other children. Should it be impossible to establish an adjustment group in the child care institution of the child’s place of residence, the rural municipality or city government concerned will establish special groups or found special nursery schools. Special and adjustment groups are smaller than regular groups to allow teachers more time to work with the children. A child will be admitted to a special nursery school (special group) on the bases of the decision of advisory committee and written application of parent or guardian. 
 

School

 
Studying is mandatory for children of school age. Central and local government will ensure everyone with the possibility for compulsory school attendance and continuous studies. Local government will give people with physical, speech, mental or sensory impairment and in need of special assistance the possibility to study at a school of their respective place of residence. In the absence of the appropriate conditions the central and local government will create the conditions for study educational institutions, established for that purpose. In general, disabled children are taught at regular schools and, where appropriate, at special educational institutions. Required support services will be available to children with special education needs in both regular and special schools. Social welfare workers, psychologists and speech therapists are employed as support specialists in many schools.
 

Every county and town has advisory committees with the following competence:

•to assign study programme or study form, matching his or her abilities, to a child with special needs; 
•referral of a child with special needs to a school or class with special needs, with the consent of a parent (guardian), deciding to postpone compulsory school attendance at the request of a parent.
 

Special schools are meant for children with impaired speech, hearing, vision, with mobility disability or intellectual disability. The schools are also intended for students with mental disorders.

Home schooling for health reasons is an option available to students of class 1 – 9, who are unable to attend school for physical reasons. Home schooling will be assigned to a child in the case of a severe chronic somatic disease or severe functional disorder and disability. Description of a student’s state of health will be given by general practitioner or medical specialist at the request of a parent (guardian). Transferring a student to home schooling and assigning him or her individual study programme is a decision to be adopted by school staff council at the direction of a general practitioner or medical specialist. Home schooling can only be implemented with the consent of a parent. 

Parents are welcome to contact nursery schools, schools and local educational departments or boards on matters related to schooling of disabled children.
 

Employment

 
According to Article 21, subsection (3) of the Employment Contracts Act (ECA), a pregnant woman and an employee raising a child under three years of age or a disabled child may be sent on a business trip only with his or her consent.
 

Article 63, subsection (2) of the ECA: a mother or father of a disabled child has the right to child leave of one working day per month until the child reaches the age of 18 years, which is remunerated for on the basis of the average wages. 

Article 64, subsection (1) of the ECA: a mother and father who is raising a child of up to 14 years of age or a disabled child of up to 18 years of age has the right to child leave without pay of up to ten working days every calendar year.

 
 

Pension  

 
PRaising a disable child is regarded as an activity, equivalent to employment, and the respective number of years will be included in length of employment for the purposes of pension calculation. 
 
Old-age pension under favourable conditions is entitled to persons who have worked the pension qualifying period, required to get an old-age pension (pension qualifying period of 15 years, worked in Estonia). Mother, father, step-parent, guardian or caregiver who has raised a child under the age of 18 years with an moderate, with severe or profound disability for eight years, at least – will qualify for old-age pension under favourable conditions five years before they reach the age of old-age pension. Only one of  the persons who has raised the child can use this benefit.
 

Transport 

 

Article 27 of the Public Transport Act defines the right of free of charge transportation as follows: 

(1) On national lines in railway, road and waterway traffic (including commercial lines), the carriers is required to carry free of charge:

1) pre-school children;

2) disabled children, persons aged 16 years or more who have a profound disability, person accompanying a person having a profound or severe visual disability or the guide dog accompanying a person having a visual disability.

 

Health

 

Health care services are made available to disabled children, depending on their need (state of health). All children belong to practice lists of general practitioners. General practitioner and family nurse will provide general medical pare to the children, included in the lists, within the limits of their competence, incl. preventive examinations, advising and in the case of a chronic disease – observe the state of the child, based on acknowledged treatment plan. The need for home visit will be determined by general practitioner. Where appropriate, general practitioner to a specialised medical care provider, who will also observe the treatment instructions for  the purposes of diagnosing and prescribing a treatment. In case of chronic diseases, characteristic of children, many children are under specialised supervision of a paediatrician or some other specialised medical care practitioner. 

Social welfare workers who offer initial social counselling are employed at certain health care institutions. A number of health care institutions also offer pregnancy crisis counselling that is a good option for parents who wish for social and psychological counselling as the consequence of pregnancy, birth or first years of life of a child. 

Please contact social welfare or child protection specialist of local government to obtain more information about social welfare services and benefits. 

If a child needs rehabilitation and the respective need is identified by a medical doctor, the doctor concerned will refer the child to a health care institution that provides the appropriate services. Children who need nursing care can get the respective form of care (at health care institutions, and, where appropriate, as home-based nursing care service). Contact the treating doctor or general practitioner of the child, who will also give you a referral, for more specific information about nursing care. Up to 60 days of nursing care will be paid for by the Estonian Health Insurance Fund. This period can be extended on the bases of an agreement between the Estonian Health Insurance Fund and service provider. Own contribution to be paid for nursing care is 15% of the cost of a bed day (the costs of one bed day are 43,01 euros, 15% of this amount being 6,45 euros).
Last updated: 7 August 2015