Child and youth welfare law, diakonie rwl

Diakonisches Werk Rheinland-Westfalen-Lippe e.V. – Diakonie RWL

Mentally and physically disabled children are excluded from child and youth welfare law. The parents must apply for the help they need from the social welfare office. An alliance now wants to change that and hopes for Minister of Family Affairs Franziska Giffey. Diakonie RWL also signed the appeal for inclusive child and youth welfare.

If parents of children with disabilities youth Welfare Office so that it is the integration assistant for the school paid, they often experience a surprise. The youth welfare office is not responsible. But the social welfare office, where the integration assistance requested, may not provide appropriate support. "We are in a special situation that no one else knows", criticizes Kerrin Stumpf, mother of a disabled son. "When I turn to the offices, I can already see the shock in the eyes of the social worker."

Diakonie and numerous other social and professional associations have long been pushing for reform of child and youth welfare law. "Children and young people with disabilities are children and young people. It is not understandable why they are treated differently under social law", says Tim Rietzke, Head of the Family and Young People business unit at Diakonie RWL. "Especially since this according to the UN Disability Convention in our opinion, is also not legal."

Family expert Tim Rietzke signed the appeal with the Diakonie RWL’s Evangelical Association for Educational Aid.

Appeal with 500 signatories

The 10th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has now taken a broad alliance of experts, victims’ and welfare organizations as an occasion for an urgent appeal to Federal Minister for Family Affairs Franziska Giffey. The almost 500 signatories call on the SPD politician, finally the legal requirements for one including child and youth welfare to accomplish. The different treatment of disabled children and adolescents must be ended, it is said. Also six federal states – Lower Saxony, Baden-Württemberg, Bremen, Thuringia, Rhineland-Palatinate and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania – support the appeal.

In North Rhine-Westphalia, over 40,000 underage people with disabilities are likely to benefit from inclusive child and youth welfare law. Nationwide there are about 250,000. "It is unreasonable for parents to have to walk back and forth between offices to get support for their children", says Tim Rietzke.

The social welfare offices with integration assistance are responsible for physically handicapped children. Parents of mentally handicapped children, on the other hand, have to go to the youth welfare office with an IQ value of 70 and more and to the social welfare office with an IQ value below 70, all others also to the youth welfare office. In everyday life, for example, this means that parents receive early support for a deaf child, but not the sign language course for the whole family. Because the integration aid is only responsible for the disabled child itself. If their siblings also need support, they must be requested from the youth welfare office.

Maria Loheide, Social Policy Director of Diakonie Germany (Photo: Diakonie Germany)

Poorly regulated social system

Given such regulations Parents with Maria Loheide from the board of Diakonie Germany criticizes disabled children as having great difficulty in receiving the help they are entitled to. "The system of social benefits is extremely poorly regulated at this point. The unequal treatment of children and adolescents cannot be justified", says Tim Rietzke.

Family Minister Giffey plans to meet affected families in mid-September. The reform of child and youth welfare was postponed in the previous legislative period and is now being prepared by a working group. The new approach must be used to end the exclusion of disabled children from youth welfare, the Lower Saxony Minister of Social Affairs Carola Reimann (SPD) demands. She emphasized that the reform would not be easy, as it would result in numerous changes in countries and municipalities. Nevertheless, it is correct and important: "We need inclusive youth welfare."


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Christina Cherry
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