Social Welfare

Cyprus Table of Contents

Social welfare policy was introduced for the first time in Cyprus in 1946, when legislation was enacted to regulate the supervision of juvenile offenders, the aftercare of reform school boys, and the protection of deprived children. After independence social welfare became the responsibility of the Department of Social Welfare Services under the Ministry of Labor and Social Insurance. The government committed itself to an active role in social policy when it stated in 1967 that "it recognizes that health, education and other social considerations affect and are interdependent with a vast complex of variables which determine both the social and economic welfare of the island."

By the 1970s, social welfare had evolved into a body of activities designed to enable individuals, family groups, and communities to cope with social problems. In the late 1980s, the state provided five main categories of services: delinquency and social defense; child and family welfare; community work and youth services; social services to other departments; and public assistance.

Delinquency and social defense services were concerned with juvenile and adult offenders. They included pretrial reports on juveniles, supervision of persons placed on probation, follow-up care for those leaving detention centers (obligatory for juveniles, voluntary for adults), and supervision of juveniles involved in antisocial behavior when requested by parents or school authorities.

The primary recipients of child and family welfare were children removed from families where conditions could no longer be remedied. Also served were children needing protection, but remaining with their families, and children threatened by such problems as chronic illness, marriage breakdown, and homelessness. In these cases, the department could supervise fostering arrangements and adoptions. Service of this kind also involved inspecting and licensing homes for children, day nurseries, and childcare personnel. In 1986 there were 207 day- care centers, 164 of them privately run; state and local governments operated the rest. Children placed in the state's care lived in the department's four children's homes; delinquent youth (aged thirteen to eighteen) lived in four youth hostels. There was also a home for retarded children, one section of which was reserved for retarded adults.

Community work and youth services involved the department in providing expert advice, and occasionally financial assistance, to voluntary community and youth organizations. Especially after 1974, the department provided much support for youth centers, where recreational facilities were available for working young people. In the late 1980s, there were ninety-eight of these youth centers, eighty-three of which were run by local governments.

Social services to other departments included long-term care for persons released from psychiatric institutions and, on occasion, for former medical patients; prison welfare measures; and assistance for students having difficulty adjusting to school.

Public assistance was first instituted in 1952 to reduce poverty by offering economic assistance to very poor families, the aged, and the disabled. This service was greatly expanded in 1973, when every Cypriot citizen was made eligible for financial assistance "for the maintenance of a minimum standard of living, and the satisfaction of his basic needs," and promised social services for solving "his personal problems and the improvement of his living conditions." The ultimate objective of these services was to make their recipients socially and economically selfsufficient . By the time of the Turkish invasion in 1974, public assistance expenditures were minimal, given full employment and comparatively high living standards. The years immediately after the invasion saw a swelling of public assistance services. By 1987, when the economy was fully restored, there were only 5,087 recipients of public assistance, half of whom were aged or disabled.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress