“One Stop Social Services Shop”


4 Nov 04

Aghvan Vardanian, RA minister of labor and social issues, and John
Evans, US ambassador to Armenia, opened the second pilot Integrated
Social Services Center in Masis, Armenia, on November 2. The first
pilot opened on March 29, 2004 in Vanadzor.

The idea of grouping different organizations providing social services
in the same building, known as “One Stop Social Service Shop” has
become increasingly common in European countries. The Vanadzor pilot
project is being viewed with interest by social service agencies in
other countries, including Romania, Albania and Georgia. The CE and
Millennium Challenges representatives have also visited the pilot site
in Vanadzor.

The Integrated Social Service Center brings together all the local
level state social services offices, Regional Social Services Agency,
the Republican Employment and Labor Service Agency, Social Insurance
Fund and Social Medical expertise Commission under one roof. A NGO
referral office has also been included in the building to provide
information and assistance to citizens who have a need but may not
qualify for state benefits, and for those citizens who need additional
services that state social service offices are not able to provide.

The Integrated Social Service center will provide better services for
Masis. Citizens needing access to social services now have a single
location where they can make applications for pensions, benefits,
social security cards, register as unemployed and make enquires as to
alternative social services available.

John Evans, US ambassador to Armenia, said:” Such programs are
directed to help the people in need, the pensioners, the disabled and
the unemployed. Tomorrow we may appear in one of these groups,
i.e. we help ourselves by establishing such a center.”

Aghvan Vardanian, RA minister of labor and social issues, said that
the state aimed to spread this model throughout the republic. “In the
first stage we try to involve such cities where at least the majority
of the services were located in one building, to make the
organizational and renovation works easier. My dream is to have an
opportunity to build a social center complex center in all the
regions,” he said. As for Yerevan, according to Mr. Vardanian, it may
need 10-12 such centers.

Aghvan Vardanian assured that the residents of Masis and the
neighboring villages will soon feel the benefits of the complex
center. “We invest contemporary technologies in the social sphere,”
the minister said.

One of the main features of the center is the integrated reception
area. Another vital aspect of the Integrated Social Service Center at
Masis is the database exchange software that has been developed by the
“Nork” Center with financial assistance from USAID under the Armenia
Social Transition Program. This system will enable each of the offices
in the ISSC to access certain limited data sets from key state social
service office database.

By Tamar Minasian