Providing care and welfare for vulnerable rural children in China
Dr. Zhang Liu, Senior Analyst at the Child Welfare Research Centre, China Philanthropy Research Institute at Beijing Normal University introduced her work with the 'children first' integrated community development programme at NCHR on June 17.
The NCHR International Department has cooperated with Dr. Zhang Liu on developing a Chinese handbook about domestic violence against children that will be published this July.
Reaching out to provide care and welfare for vulnerable rural children
Because of China’s large-scale migration, rapid urbanization and restrictive urban household policies, millions of children are left behind in rural areas and separated from one or both parents that are looking for work in bigger cities. These left behind children may live with their grandparents or have other arrangements, and these factors may increase the risk of neglect, absence from school and dropout rates. Little knowledge of children’s rights, the lack of child welfare social workers, limited financial means, or lack of access to information may keep these children excluded from the services they need.
The Child Welfare Research Institute started a project in 2010 with the initial aim to support children affected by HIV/Aids, and is today reaching out to provide care and welfare for vulnerable and left behind children in selected rural areas in China. The project is selecting and training ‘Child Directors’ that will constitute a grassroots workforce providing regular home visits to children in villages to monitor their needs, and provide counselling and social support for children and families who need it. Child welfare activity centres will also be set up in the villages, and there will be training and education sessions for parents and families on child care and early childhood development. Children with additional needs such as school dropouts, children with disabilities and children without any caregivers will also receive relevant special support.
Positive impact on the situation of children involved in the program
After running for three years the project has already led to very positive improvements in the situation for children in the selected rural areas in China. Children with disabilities attending school increased from 59 % to 84 %, the number of dropouts and girls who are married before the age of 18 has decreased, and close to 100 % of the orphans in the selected villages are now receiving orphan allowances. In addition, 100 % of the families are now registered for health insurance through the New Rural Cooperative Medical Scheme.
Dr. Zhang's presentation was followed by discussions on urbanisation and centralisation. The situation in rural China where they have to close down schools in remote areas due to lack of teachers and pupils were compared to the situation in Norway, where we also have frequent discussions about public services in small villages or communities.