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China's child welfare services shifting focus to protection of minors

Updated: May 25,2021 19:19    Xinhua

BEIJING — China plans to restructure its child welfare services and complete the reform process by 2025, shifting the focus of the service system to the protection of minors, the Ministry of Civil Affairs said at a press conference on May 25.

Child welfare services in China are dedicated to sheltering and supporting children whose guardianship is assumed by civil affairs authorities, said the ministry, noting that many facilities now lie idle as the number of orphans has dropped 66 percent from the 2012 figure to 190,000.

Close to 70 percent of county-level child welfare facilities have less than 10 residents, said an official with the ministry Zhao Yong, noting that there are 1,217 child welfare facilities across the country.

In contrast to the declining number of orphans, more children living with serious illnesses or disabilities are being left unattended and in want of professional care, for which existing child welfare facilities fall short, said Zhao.

Together with 13 departments, the ministry recently released a guidance document for the reform push. "The document sets the targets of optimizing resources and improving services in provincial and municipal child welfare facilities, and transforming those at the county level," said Zhao.

Li Wanli, also an official with the ministry, said another problem the push aims to address is the shortage of services protecting and helping minors at the county level.

The new minor assistance and protection facilities, restructured from current county-level child welfare facilities, will serve more underage groups and shoulder more responsibilities, said Li.

In addition to sheltering and raising unattended children, the new facilities will work to improve public awareness of the protection of minors; carry out care campaigns for left-behind children in rural areas, orphans and children facing predicaments; and provide county-level government departments and community centers with guidance on the protection of minors and related services, said Li.

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