We explore the Danish welfare system with a special needs child
Text: Martina Popadakova / Sara R. Newell
No two children are alike, even if they have the same diagnosis. Most caseworkers have contact with many different families with very different needs, and therefore will most likely not have specialised knowledge about your child's specific disabilities.
Preparing for meetings with the municipality (kommune)
It is crucial to the handling of your case that you collect and organise all information regarding your child, as early on as possible. This will help to give your caseworker a better idea of your child's specific support needs. It is a good idea to create a folder where you store:
Copies of all medical records from doctors. Both your general practitioner, and from specialists at the hospital, or private clinics.
Documents describing your child's consultations with doctors, educators, psychologists or physiotherapists.
Take your own notes, or ask for a written summary from the meetings you have attended, in connection with your child's disability.
Ask for a copy of all documents involved in your case - e.g. minutes of meetings, official decisions, and any rulings of refusal of assistance.
You have the right to bring a support person with you to meetings with the municipality, or other relevant authorities. It could be a family member, friend, private social worker, lawyer, or another person you trust.
Target group evaluation (målgruppevurdering)
It is common practice for municipalities to require a target group evaluation Målgruppevurdering, to determine if your child's disabilities can be categorised as a significant and permanent impairment of physical or mental functioning, or as a chronic and long-term disorder. Certain types of assistance and support are available even if a Målgruppevurdering has not been carried out, but this will vary from municipality to municipality. More extensive and costly assistance and support such as assistive devices, aid in covering additional expenses related to your child's disability, compensation for lost earnings, or relief care, will most often only be available to your child if they are evaluated as being in the target group for such services.
A Målgruppevurdering in itself does not grant assistance of any kind but is only used to determine if your child is in the target group for special assistance.
You should not expect the municipality to commence with a Målgruppevurdering, without you having requested that such an evaluation be carried out.
The results of a Målgruppevurdering may vary from municipality to municipality. In other words, whether your child will be considered as being in the target group for special assistance, may depend on which municipality you live in. It is, therefore a good idea to be thorough in collecting all relevant information regarding your child's disability and limitations.
"You have the right to bring a support person with you to meetings with the municipality, or other relevant authorities."
The application process
When applying for any type of assistance or support, we strongly advise that you do so in writing. You should clearly state what it is that you are applying for, and your application should contain a clear and concise explanation, of why the specific assistance or service is necessary for your child, and how the required aid or service is a consequence of his/her disability.
If applying for assistance over email, it is a good rule of thumb to always send your application both to your child's caseworker (sagsbehandler), as well as the main email address (hovedmailadresse) of the department where the caseworker is employed. This can help in ensuring that your application doesn't get stranded in the caseworker's mailbox if he/she becomes ill, changes jobs etc.
If you need assistance or guidance on how to apply for aid for your child, you should start by contacting your child's caseworker. Municipality caseworkers are required by law to provide information about applying for assistance; however, this is not always carried out in practice. If you are unable to get adequate help or guidance from the caseworker, then we recommend that you contact DUKH - The Independent Consultancy Scheme for Disability. DUKH provides free and impartial counselling to people with both physical and mental disabilities. DUKH can advise on the legal basis relating to individual services, case procedures and case processing, as well as options for an appeal if you are denied assistance.
You can find contact information for DUKH by visiting https://www.dukh.dk/ (in Danish).