REFORMING CZECH SOCIAL SERVICES: INFLUENCE OF THE IMPLEMENTATION OF NATIONAL QUALITY STANDARDS OF ACTIVE USER IMPERATIVE ON THE PRIMARY PROCESS
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In the Czech Republic, a new act reforming social services has been adopted, that by means of the National Quality Standards (NQS) is radically changing the position of the social service users. In this paper, the authors discuss impact of the NQS active user imperative on the primary process. They have extracted relevant data from the three consecutive case studies of the shelter facilities and focused on those aspects of the intervention that should have been affected by the reform the most profoundly. They found out that adoption and especially real application of the active user principle by the street-level bureaucrats encounter several serious problems. The misunderstanding of or the resistance to the merits of this principle by the street-level bureaucrats often led to its crippled or partial implementation. Consequently, the quality of the social services has not improved or has even decreased. It followed from their research that street-level bureaucrats were either reluctant or helpless when confronted with the requirement to transform or at least significantly modify their everyday practices and approaches towards the clients. As the most resistant element the authors have revealed conceptions of the client, i.e. shared understanding of clients by street-level bureaucrats. Their findings suggest that street-level bureaucrats should have been involved much more actively and straightforwardly in the discussions over and the planning of the NQS implementation process in their facilities; otherwise they would feel alienated from it and would tend to either circumvent the new requirements or comply with them only selectively and without inner acceptance.
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