Laws and regulations

The Constitution of the Republic of Estonia provides everyone’s right to the protection of health, noting that families with a large number of children as well as people with disabilities enjoy special care of the national government and of local authorities. Among other things, the Constitution also stipulates that national government facilitates the voluntary provision of welfare services and provision of welfare services by local authorities.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities provides for the full and equal enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities.

In order to assist disabled people and people with special needs, the Local Government Organisation Act and Social Welfare Act task the local government with the organisation, in the rural municipality or city, of social assistance and services, welfare services for the elderly unless such functions are assigned by law to other persons. Pursuant to the Social Welfare Act, the local authority of a person’s residence entered in the population register is required to organise the provision of social services, social benefits, emergency social assistance and other assistance to the person.

The payment of social benefits to disabled people is regulated by the Social Benefits for Disabled Persons Act, the purpose of which is to support the ability of disabled persons to cope independently, social integration and equal opportunities and to promote studies and work through partial compensation for the additional expenses caused by the disability.

The principles of social protection are human dignity, person’s ownership, solidarity, and the public authority’s duty to explain and assist.

The principles of ensuring the provision of social welfare assistance are:

  • considering the needs and condition of the person;
  • cooperating with the person, taking into account their wishes and involving them when making decisions concerning their life;
  • tailoring the service to the needs of a particular person;
  • giving priority to assistance measures that support the person’s ability to cope, work and study independently, and reduce their need for assistance in the long run;
  • giving priority to opportunities which support living at home over placement in an institution;
  • establishment of home-like social welfare institutions and the provision of social welfare assistance as close to the person’s home as possible.

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