New Act on Shelters for Victims of Domestic Violence forthcoming – draft out for comments
The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health is requesting opinions by 27 April on a draft government proposal on a new Act on Shelters for Victims of Domestic Violence. The new Act would repeal the current Act on Compensation out of State Funds for Providers of Shelters for Victims of Domestic Violence. It would enter into force as of the beginning of 2018.
The proposal aims to clarify the principles concerning the financing of shelters for victims of domestic violence. The new Act would also have provisions on training for personnel in the shelters. It would also clarify the competence of the authorities regarding the steering and monitoring of shelters operations.
In the new Act, shelter services would be reserved for victims of domestic violence and accompanying minors. However, people could still seek help from shelters even for reasons comparable to domestic violence. The new Act would also mean that no decision or agreement need to be reached before an individual can become a client in a shelter for victims of domestic violence.
The current Act on Compensation out of State Funds for Providers of Shelters for Victims of Domestic Violence took effect on 1 January 2015. At the time the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) was assigned the responsibility for organising and coordinating the shelter services. The effectiveness of the 2015 Act has been monitored and evaluated by an evaluation group. The draft government proposal, now circulated for comments, is based on the amendment needs identified by the evaluation group.
Compensation grounds would be reformed
According to the draft government proposal, the providers of shelters for victims of domestic violence would receive compensation out of state funds based on government transfer decisions only. This would make the compensation system clearer; at present compensations depend both on agreements between THL and the service providers and on government transfer decisions. With the new Act there would no longer be any compensation agreements. THL would decide which service providers operate shelters for victims of domestic violence. Moreover, there would no longer be any allocation principles for the compensation paid out of state funds. THL would allocate the compensations to service providers based on budgets determined on the basis of how many families the shelter can accommodate, as has been done thus far. With the new Act, the Act on Discretionary Government Transfers would apply in full to the service provider compensations. Currently only parts of the Act on Discretionary Government Transfers apply to the compensations.
Shelters get more funding
Funding of the shelters for victims of domestic violence has increased since the state took over the responsibility for the shelters in 2015. According to the General Government Fiscal Plan for 2016–2019, central government funding earmarked for shelters will increase by EUR 2 million annually, reaching EUR 17.5 million by the end of the budget planning period. This is in accordance with earlier decisions on spending limits. A total of EUR 13.55 million in the 2017 Budget has been reserved for shelters for victims of domestic violence.
By the end of 2017 the Finnish shelters for victims of domestic violence can accommodate a total of 143 families at a time. This is 21% up on 2015 when 118 families could be accommodated.
Kari Paaso, Director, tel. +358 295 63340, firstname.lastname@example.org