Service Specifications and Standards
The process of social sector reform is closely linked with the development and introduction of standards. Standards are the minimum requirements needed to arrange, deliver and assess a quality of services provided to the specific groups of population. The standards will supplement the existing social system of legal regulations and contribute to manage and deliver services at qualitatively new level.
The introduction of social services standards promotes improvement in quality of provided services in accordance with the needs of population. Furthermore, standardisation enables better control over the volume of the social services delivered. With the establishment of a standardised system of operations and service provider accreditation, facilitate budget planning processes at the various levels; and the costs of social services provision can be significantly optimised. As well, standards have a strong contribution to improving the ‘quality of life’ of the service-users.
Tajikistan, unlike other more developed countries, the use of standards in the social sector is still being established. The aim of the introduction of service standards is to create a new more effective legislative and regulatory framework for the sector.
Technical assistance for the development of minimum standards for a range of social services within the system of social protection is being provided to the MLSPP by national and international experts. To create a solid foundation for the future delivery of appropriate and high quality social services, local authorities, service providers and most importantly the service-users have all involved in the process of standards development.
The project’s technical assistance has focused on the development of a limited number of standards for any particular service. The process of development is participative and includes a period of trialing and testing. In parallel, a monitoring tool and process has been developed and tested.
According to experts, future standards become distinctive criteria for assessing the volume and quality of social services. The standards have two complementary parts:
1. Structural standards specify the minimum organisational structures and resources that should be deployed (for example facilities, personnel levels of financing); and
2. Functional standards specify the process and content of the provision of services.
Ultimately, service standards provide a framework to ensure that, once appropriate services have been put in place, they operate in a way that responds to the needs of service users and have a better impact on redressing the disadvantages experienced by those who are vulnerable, social excluded or in need of care and protection.
Until recently in Tajikistan, the development of classification and systematisation of social services did not attract sufficient attention amongst the experts and professionals working in the sector.
In the former Soviet countries (for example, Russian and Kazakhstan), social services which are guaranteed by the Government and highlighted in legal documents are classified as: social-household, social-medical, social-psychological, social-pedagogical, social-economic, social-juridical etc. The main inadequacy of such definitions was the difficultly, or sometimes the impossibility of assessing the effectiveness of its provision. The international practice of social work shows that the needs of beneficiaries can be broad and with individual peculiarities. Therefore, differentiation or definition of social services which are aimed to satisfy needs of beneficiaries should be more flexible and client-oriented. In this context, more appropriate approach to developing social services is the identification of categories of services for specific priority groups. Furthermore, while developing specification for the specific category of service, types of activities (types of services) should be distinguished.