In 2019-2021, the Minister of Family and Social Policy was late in announcing the Program on assistant services for people with disabilities. Contracts for the implementation of support were concluded after the deadline. It happened that people with disabilities had to wait six months for assistance to be granted. Mainly due to delays, municipalities and counties did not fully utilize either the funds received for this purpose or the hours of support for Program participants. They also failed to cover the planned number of disabled people with assistance. Lack of supervision at the ministerial and provincial levels was also a problem. The situation was exacerbated by local governments' ignorance of the number of people with disabilities living in their areas. NIK stresses that only 0.6% of people with disabilities in Poland benefited from the Program in 2020-2021.
The number of people with a disability certificate in Poland is steadily increasing year after year. In 2020, a total of nearly 92,000 children under the age of 16 had a disability certificate, and in 2022 the number increased by almost 10%. The increase was also true for adults with disabilities. In 2020, there were just under 807 thousand people over the age of 18 with severe disabilities, and in 2022 their number reached almost 948 thousand, an increase of 17.5%. For those with a moderate degree of disability, the increase over the period was smaller, at just over 5%.
Poland ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2012. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities committed to introducing instruments to realize the right of persons with disabilities to live independently, which includes the availability of personal assistant services. The Convention requires states to ensure that people with disabilities have access to a wide range of services, including personal assistants.
For years, the communities of people with disabilities have been raising the need for a service that will allow this group of people to be more independent and self-reliant on the help of family and loved ones, and provide assistance in performing daily activities and functioning in society. The Personal Assistant Program for Persons with Disabilities and Personal Assistants for Persons with Disabilities are the answer to these needs.
In 2019-2021, a total of 22,761 people with disabilities were provided with personal a...