Social services

Local governments organise social services and emergency social assistance. The persons entitled to social services are:

  • permanent residents of Estonia
  • foreign nationals living in Estonia on a legal basis
  • refugees staying in Estonia.

Each local government lays down the procedure for the provision of aid, which includes the description and funding of the social services and benefits and the respective application requirements and procedure. Therefore, local governments may provide different social services and have different eligibility requirements.

In order to obtain social services, a person must turn to their local government, which will decide whether and what type of assistance the person requires in order to resolve specific social problems and cope in the future. The decision on the provision or refusal of assistance must be clearly stated and justified in a comprehensible manner.

Local governments have the right to demand a fee for providing social services, the terms and amount of which are specified by local governments. The amount of the fee depends on the scope of the service, its cost and the financial situation of the person requesting the service, but it should not constitute an obstacle to receiving the service.

Social services organised by local governments

Local governments (rural municipalities, cities and city districts) provide the following services:

  • domestic care – helping adults with their daily tasks and errands
  • general care service provided outside home – providing assistance and care for adults in a social welfare institution
  • support person service – providing motivation and guidance for adults and/or children and developing their ability to cope independently
  • curatorship of adults – assisting disabled adults in exercising their rights and obligations
  • personal assistant service – assisting disabled adults in daily life
  • shelter service – providing temporary shelter for adults
  • safe house service – ensuring temporary housing, a safe environment and crisis assistance for children or adults
  • social transport service – enabling a disabled person to use a vehicle that corresponds to their needs
  • provision of dwelling – ensuring the use of a suitable dwelling for a person or a family who is unable to find it themselves
  • debt counselling – providing counselling to a person who is in debt and has problems supporting themselves in order to settle claims and avoid new debts
  • childcare service – ensuring childcare for a child between the ages of 18 months and 3 years or a severely disabled person up to 18 years of age to support the ability of the custodian to cope and work.

If a resident of a municipality requires these services, they must be granted to them.

State-funded and organised social services

  • Social rehabilitation service – for all individuals with disabilities and partial or complete incapacity for work who require help in their daily lives to deal with limitations arising from their disability or special needs. Rehabilitation aims to teach and develop everyday skills, increase a person’s chances of participating in social life, support studies and create prerequisites for achieving or restoring a certain level of work capacity.
  • A partial compensation of purchasing or leasing fees of prostheses, orthoses and other assistive devices.
  • Special welfare services are aimed at adults who need greater assistance, instruction or supervision due to severe, profound or permanent mental disorders and who cannot cope without professional assistance.
  • Conciliation service – application of conciliation proceedings provided in section 2032 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and verification of whether the conditions of the resulting written agreement are met.
  • Victim support – maintaining or enhancing the ability to cope of persons who have fallen victim to a criminal offence, negligence or mistreatment or physical, mental or sexual abuse.
  • Substitute care – care for a child outside their own family, i.e. guardianship, provision of a substitute home or care in another family.

In addition to these services, children can also obtain several other project-based services. For more information, contact the Estonian National Social Insurance Board.

Last amended: 27-03-2017 00:00 | Compiled by: Ministry of Social Affairs