We explore the Danish welfare system with a special needs child
Text: Martina Popadakova / Sara R. Newell
It is the municipality that you live in, which has the overall responsibility for determining if you are eligible for disability assistance and support.
Family Counseling (Familievejleder)
Municipalities are required by law, to inform and advise you on suitable support options. If your child is diagnosed with a significant and permanent impairment of physical or mental ability, you may be offered family counselling.
A family counsellor may be able to assist you with:
Informing you of your rights
Informing you about where to gain more knowledge regarding your child’s disabilities
Helping you get in touch with other families with children with disabilities.
Be aware that family counsellors are required to provide information about the types of help and support that may be relevant to you. It is, however, a good rule of thumb, not to rely solely on a family counsellor as your only source of information, about potential disability support options. Family counsellors can only advise you of your options, but it is not their task nor their capability, to decide if you can receive any assistance or support.
"Be aware that family counsellors are required to provide information about the types of help and support that may be relevant to you."
The following overview does not provide all the options which may be available. Still, it gives a general overview of some of the primary support options which may be available to your family:
Specialised and general advice on having a child with a disability
Family counselling or family therapy
Assistive devices such as wheelchairs, weighted blankets, leg splints etc.
Assistance in covering additional expenses related to your child’s disability, or compensation for lost earnings.
Municipality Case worker (Kommunens Sagsbehandler)
The efforts around your child will often include many professionals, different administrative offices, and various departments of the municipality. However, it is the caseworker (Sagsbehandler) who is the focal point in your collaboration with the municipality. To obtain a thorough picture of your child’s support needs, the caseworker will need to gather information about your family.
It would be best if you were involved in your case from start to finish, as it can be confusing – especially as it’s not in your mother tongue. It’s crucial that the caseworker plans the process in a way that involves you and you can understand. To establish constructive cooperation with your caseworker, it is advisable that both parents, and the caseworker, voice your expectations to each other early on in the process.
Caseworkers are required by law, to provide information about the types of help and support that may be relevant to you; however, this is not always carried out in practice.
How you can contribute:
Thoroughly describe your child’s support needs.
Describe your family’s overall situation.
Prepare copies of any relevant paperwork before meetings, e.g. doctor’s notes regarding your child’s disabilities and/or diagnoses, relevant information from your child’s school or daycare etc.
The caseworker should inform you of:
The process and time frame for handling your case.
Which types of assistance and support may be relevant to your family.
The legal basis for assistance.
Explaining the legal basis for assistance.
Remember, if you have a communication problem or do not speak/understand Danish, you are entitled to free interpreting assistance when you attend meetings regarding your child. It is the municipality you live in, or the authority responsible for the meeting, that must provide a professional interpreter.
DUKH - The Independent Consultancy Scheme for Disability can be a handy source of information about your rights, as well as which types of help and support may be relevant for you.