Who can benefit from social assistance provided in Chisinau municipality

The vulnerable persons and families from Chisinau have access to social assistance in the form of services and benefits offered to prevent or overcome difficult situations. This year the budget of the General Medical and Social Assistance Division is 431 million lei. About 155 million lei will go on support and care services, which account for the largest part of the costs. The allocations from the municipal budget represent 82% of the Division’s budget.  

Older persons represent 60% of beneficiaries of social assistance

Marina Buga, deputy head of the General Medical and Social Assistance Division, said that social assistance is provided at request following the thorough examination of the needs of the person through the social inquiry and relevant documents. A person can learn about the assistance to which they are entitled by calling local social assistance divisions in each district of the municipality of Chisinau. The information is placed on the official website (of the Division, of the City Hall) and on social media. Informational brochures are annually distributed in public spaces.

The older persons represent 60% of the beneficiaries of social assistance provided by the General Medical and Social Assistance Division. 22% are persons with disabilities, 11% are families with children, while 7% are families with low incomes.

The older persons are entitled to all the forms of social assistance, including financial assistance. The Division offers financial assistance once a year. Financial assistance can be provided repeatedly during a year if the financial situation of the person becomes critical or a social consequence appears after the one-off financial support is provided. The sums vary depending on the complexity of needs. The needs of the person are assessed by a social inquiry completed at the applicant’s home. The social state, the living conditions and incomes are confirmed and the necessity is determined based on these parameters.

The municipality also covers 40% of the heat bill for families with monthly incomes lower than 3,000 lei per family member. About 20,000 families in Chisinau are supported this way. If a family earlier benefited from such payments and is part of the system, this does not need to file an application again if the file presented earlier does not need to be changed. Most of these persons can benefit from social assistance for the cold period of the year as part of the national program and from the 40% compensation provided by the municipality.

Shelter for the homeless

The accommodation and orientation center for homeless persons of the municipality of Chisinau, which is a municipal budget-funded institution, at the moment houses about 60 persons. The center’s capacity can be extended to 140 places. Roman Moscalu, jurist-counselor at the center, said the people end up in such centers for different reasons. Sometimes, these are former convicts whose relatives sold their apartments and they do not have where to go. There are also older persons who, for different reasons, lost the home and became vagrants. There are also persons who never worked and are taken to the center when their parents who looked after them die. Among the beneficiaries can be persons who are put on the wanted list after they committed an offense and they try to hide at the center but they are identified and handed over to the police.

“There are also vulnerable persons who got used to profiting from state support, to living in such centers and not going to work. But the institution’s psychologists and social assistants through discussions encourage them to find a job. This way we try to help them realize that they need a job to be able to rent an apartment and to stop being depended on social assistance,” stated Roman Moscalu.

Social services needed by persons with disabilities

Despite the fact that the General Medical and Social Assistance Division adopted a proactive attitude in the development of social services, the large costs incurred for the social area and the limited possibilities are the main problem experienced by all the authorities, including the central and municipal ones, said Elena Stăjilă, of the public association Center for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. One of the most necessary services - the social service “Respiro” that is provided also in the municipality of Chisinau – is not implemented for adult persons with severe disabilities even if there are quality standards in place. This service offers the families that look after a person with severe disabilities to place this person under the “Respiro” service on a temporary basis, including at night. The service is provided for at most 30 days a year and enables the carers to take a break.

The social assistance service in the municipality of Chisinau employs 1,684 persons. About 1,000 more employees are needed. The shortage of staff is a pressing problem that influences the volume and quality of the provided services. “We must motivate them primarily financially. These categories have very low pays. The situation is critical and we risk remaining without persons who provide social assistance soon,” said Marina Buga, deputy head of the General Medical and Social Assistance Division.

At the moment, the Division is completing a project to create a day center for persons with autism spectrum disorders. The capacities of the existing social centers will be strengthened. A part of these centers were accredited, while the others are yet to be accredited. The move will help align the services provided by the municipality with the high quality standards. The priorities include the designing of a municipal policy document concerning the protection of persons with disabilities, including in the field of accessibility, and to develop a program of socio-medical services.

Milena Macarciuc, IPN

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