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Cyprus Social Welfare Services

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Information on the Cyprus Social Welfare Services

Republic of Cyprus                          Photo © CyprusExpat.co.uk

The Social Welfare Services (SWS), under the Ministry of Labour, Welfare and Social Insurance, is the competent and only government department responsible for providing citizens with such assistance so as to enable them to face the effects of the economic crisis as well as to safeguard the right of citizens to a decent standard of living and to promote the activation of social inclusion for the vulnerable members of society, including the responsibility of safeguarding social protection for children and providing services within the framework of family policies.

Also, the SWS provide State Aid/Reinforcement towards the Local Authorities and Voluntary Organizations which provide services of general economic interest for the foundation, operation or expansion of programs concerning Social Care. Furthermore, the SWS address issues concerning State Institutional and Day-Care Services, participation in European / National Bodies concerned with matters of Social Policy and the development of the Human Capital of the Social Welfare Services.

The services towards the public are offered by the local Social Welfare Offices and include matters of economic nature, psychosocial support to individuals and families and technical help to Bodies which provide services of general economic interest to the sector of social care.

Also, the Social Welfare Services run a number of State Institutions (Child Care, for the Elderly and Disabled, Protection of people with Intellectual Disabilities, Child Day-Care), which fall under the corresponding District Welfare Office.

According to the mission and goals of the Social Welfare Services, the services provided are categorized under the following seven pillars.

1. Provision of services to citizens in order to enable them to face the effects of the economic crisis, safeguarding the right of citizens to a decent standard of living and promotion of the activation of social inclusion.

1.1 Public Assistance

On 1 July 2014 the Government replaced Public Assistance with the System of Guaranteed Minimum Income. As from this date the provision of public assistance was terminated.

1.2 Social Services to non nationals

The Social Welfare Services provide material reception conditions to applicants of international protection for whom there is no room for accommodation at the Reception and Hospitality Centers and who fulfill all the legal requirements. Since 19 July 2013, in order to those needs the Social Welfare Services issue coupons for food and clothing, which are redeemable at local businesses.

2. Safeguarding social protection for children and providing services within the framework of family policies.

2.1 Consulting and support services to the family

In order to support and strengthen the family and protect the child from physical and moral dangers, the Social Welfare Services offer counseling and support services.

2.2 Prevention and treatment of delinquency

The Social Welfare Services supervise minors and adults for whom guardianship orders are issued by the Court. Many of them have as condition the provision of community work without remuneration, by the offenders. The Social Welfare Services also prepare reports for criminal cases to the courts, at their request, for both minors and adults.

2.3 Adoptions

The Social Welfare Services strive to secure the best possible conditions for an adopted child. The adoption legislation regulates the role of the Social Welfare Services regarding the process of an adoption and aims to safeguard the best interests of the child to be adopted.

The Ministry of Labour, Welfare and Social Insurance is in the process of preparing a  bill aiming at modernizing the legislation in order to fully comply with the provisions of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect to Inter-Country adoption.

2.4 Prevention and Handling of violence in the family

This program provides the minor and the adult victim with the right to assistance, support and protection in order to strengthen and tackle the violence received. The program places particular emphasis on child abuse neglect, defending the rights of children and giving them access to services for receiving help.

2.5 Parental Care

Protecting children who experience the separation of their parents or dispute regarding custody issues / communication, is a primary goal of the parenting program. The interests of the child must be ensured in all parenting decisions of the Family Court and for this reason the Social Welfare Services have the responsibility of preparing socioeconomic reports, to inform the Court.

2.6 Protection of trafficking victims

The Social Welfare Services in collaboration with other government agencies provide services to people who have been identified as victims trafficked for the purpose of exploitation, based on the provisions of the Combating of Trafficking and Exploitation of Persons and Protection of Victims Law. Specifically, victims receive information about their rights, support to cope with the traumatic experience and guidance for securing the services of other concerned departments and agencies.

Beyond to being cared for at the State Shelter for Victims of Sexual Exploitation, victims receive support in order to enable them to ensure accommodation and meet their basic or special needs.

2.7 Protection of Unaccompanied (foreign) Minors

To protect, care and empower their smoother recovery, unaccompanied children are taken under the legal care of the Director of the Social Welfare Services. Subsequently, an evaluation of their situation helps in placing the minor in foster families or in institutions of Child Protection.

Pursuant to the provisions of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on children without their parents or legal guardians, all decisions taken for unaccompanied children aim at ensuring the best interests of the child.

3. Provision of State Aid to Local Authorities and voluntary organizations providing services of general economic interest for the establishment, operation, or expansion of projects within the field of social care. Registration and Inspection of Social Care programs.

3.1 Provision of State Aid

The Social Welfare Services grant financial support in the form of state aid for the establishment, operation or expansion of programs within the field of social care services and related programs such as Homes for the Elderly, Child Care Stations, Home Care Services and seniors programs, as well as programs for people with disabilities, and psychosocial support programs.

3.2 Inspection of Social Care Programs

According to the legislation setting minimum operating levels of social care, the SWS have the role of inspecting such programs, which include Child Care Stations, Homes for the Elderly, Home Care Services and Senior Centers. To further upgrade the services provided, the Social Welfare Services have prepared a revised draft of Regulations.

3.3 Care Services for the Elderly

To ensure adequate levels of operating Homes for the Elderly and decent standard of living for the elderly and disabled, the Social Welfare Services apply the Homes for the Elderly and Disabled Persons Acts of 1991 and 1994 and the amending Act of 2011 and the relevant Regulations for registration and inspection of non-State Homes and the registration of care-providers to care for up to five people at the Caregiver´s home.

4. Issues regarding the State Institutional Services

4.1 Institutional Care

The Social Welfare Services operate a number of Institutions nationwide which provide care and protection for vulnerable groups of the population, and care for the reconciliation of work and family life. (Children’s protection, care for the elderly, care for individuals with special needs, day care services for children under school age and protection to victims of sexual exploitation).

4.2 Day Care

The Social Welfare Services make arrangements to provide day care in a foster family or in an Institution for Child Protection, to families experiencing difficulties concerning the custody / care / protection of a child.

4.3 Children in Care

The legislation concerning children, gives the right to the Director of Social Welfare Services to take care of children in need of protection and care, by placing them in foster families or in Child Protection Institutions. The care of a child by the SWS may continue until adulthood, but the ultimate goal is the immediate reunification with the family, after helping parents to improve their conditions and family environment, in order to ensure the best possible future of the child.

4.4 Program of Financial Aid of Children who were under the care of the SWS and are now over 18

The SWS provide financial support to people over 18 who as children were under the care of the Director of the SWS to ensure a smoother social and vocational integration into society.

5. Development of the Human Capital of the SWS

The SWS organize regularly educational seminars in order to develop and update the knowledge and skills of their staff.

6. Participation in European / International Bodies active in matters of social policy

6.1 Contribution to the National Reform Program for the Chapter “Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion”

Within the framework of the new European Strategy for Jobs and Growth, “Europe 2020”, Cyprus submitted voluntarily, in April 2013, to the European Commission, the National Reform Program (NRP) showing the progress in its five national objectives, including the objective of combating poverty and social exclusion. The SWS were appointed as coordinators for the preparation of the contribution to the NRP regarding Guideline 10 “Promoting social inclusion and combating poverty” concerning integrated guidelines of the strategy “Europe 2020”.

6.2 Participation in European Committees

The Social Welfare Services actively participate in the formulation of strategies and policies in the context of the obligations of Cyprus as a member state of the European Union and other International Organizations in Social Protection and Social Inclusion. They also participate, at a European level, in the Social Protection Committee, the Sub-committee on Indicators of Social Protection Committee and the Committee of National Benchmarks for Implementation of National Strategies for the Roma. The Social Welfare Services also participate in Committees of the Council of Europe.

7. Implementation of Co-funded projects (from the European Social Fund)

7.1 “Work and Social Activation of Persons belonging to vulnerable groups through the development of social skills and other activities”

The Social Welfare Services implement a co-financed project of the Programming Period 2007-2013 for the “Work and Social Activation of people belonging to vulnerable groups through the development of social skills and other activities.” The project consists of the development of active employment measures for vulnerable groups of the population being served by the Social Welfare Services.

The Social Welfare Services have also promoted the funding of local authorities and Non Governmental Organizations in order to promote social programs to help people who are having problems in the labour market so as to decrease their risk of social exclusion.

 7.2 “Subsidization of social care services for the reconciliation of work and family life”

The Social Welfare Services implement a co-financed project of the Programming Period 2007-2013 for the “Subsidization of social care services for the reconciliation of work and family life.” The aim of the project is to motivate the economically inactive and unemployed females to (re)enter the labour market.

You may visit the Social Welfare Services website at the following address:

www.mlsi.gov.cy/mlsi/sws/sws.nsf  PIO

Last Updated 25 November 2016

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