A guiding hand through disability
We explore the Danish welfare system with a special needs child
Text: Martina Popadakova / Sara R. Newell
Adjustment to life in Denmark is hard enough, but internationals who have children with disabilities (physical disabilities, as well as invisible disabilities, such as ADHD and autism, etc.) adds extra challenges. Our aim is to shed light on the system by introducing a basic framework for parents who need disability support and assistance for their child. This issue we introduce the general framework for applying for help when you move here.
Administration of disability services
Danish law states that if your child has a disability, that your child should be compensated, as much as possible, for the consequences of his/her disability. It is the intention of Danish disability laws that families with children with disabilities can live as "normally" as possible, despite the child's disability. While it is the responsibility of the Danish Government to legislate for special services, municipalities have to implement these legislations in ways that best serve the individual.
Denmark is made up of 98 municipalities, and disability services are administered by local offices in each municipality. Access to disability services is evaluated on a case-by-case basis, and the availability and quality of disability services can vary greatly depending on which municipality you live in.
Where to seek help – Kommunen (Municipality)
It is your municipality that is the main portal to disability assistance and support services if you are a parent of a child with a disability. When you contact the municipality, there are a variety of services which you may have access to. This can include general and specialised guidance on caring for a child with a disability, as well as other types of assistance and support.
Be aware that each municipality decides and determines which disability services and support you may have access to, based on the individual municipality's interpretation of Danish disability law. This means that access to disability services may vary considerably from municipality to municipality.
"Access to disability services is evaluated on a case-by-case basis, and the availability and quality of disability services can vary greatly depending on which municipality you live in."
You can find information about your local municipality, and about disability services in general, by visiting www.borger.dk and www.borger.dk/handicap.
When visiting www.borger.dk you will need to log on using digital identification known as NemID. If you haven't applied for your NemId, you can visit this website for more information: https://www.nemid.nu/dk-en/get_started/request_nemid/
NemID is crucial as you will need it for all correspondence with the municipality, and the health system.
External support system
It is a good idea to seek support and inspiration from disability organisations, network groups over social media (e.g. there are many Facebook family support groups), and from other families. Some municipalities facilitate family support groups. Some specialised daycares and specialised schools provide family support groups, as well as support groups for siblings, and playgroups for children with disabilities.
Support and advice beyond the municipality
Many parents and disability organisations have parent groups, family classes and counselling. Parents benefit greatly from talking to other parents, exchanging experiences, and forming networks. Your caseworker can help you to find out which options are available in your locality.
Danish Disability Organisations
DH is an umbrella organisation that has 32 member organisations and covers different types of disabilities. DH does not provide advice or support to individual citizens. The individual member organisations offer advice and support to individuals. Find more via DH's guide.
Rare Diagnoses is an association of 47 associations for families with rare diseases and disabilities.
Siblings Networks and Groups
In several places in the country, there are sibling networks and groups that you may benefit from. Here families have the opportunity to share their experiences, about having a sibling with a disability. Contact your caseworker to find out which options are available in your local area.
On Facebook, there are several groups for parents of children with disabilities. Many of these groups are very active, and are used for communication and support, exchange of concrete advice and help in dealing with everyday challenges, as well as assisting each other in how to apply for disability assistance. This group is popular amongst parents of special needs children.