Tue, May 02, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Government to boost funding for children's welfare

CNA , TAIPEI

After a spate of recent cases in which parents in financial distress killed themselves and their children, the Ministry of the Interior will appropriate NT$200 million (US$6.2 million) to local governments to improve child welfare, Interior Minister Lee Yi-yang (李逸洋) said yesterday.

Lee, who said he was "saddened" by such incidents, said the ministry hopes to begin providing emergency monthly subsidies of NT$3,000 to children in impoverished families this month.

Lee made the remarks while fielding questions at a meeting of the Legislative Yuan's Health, Environment and Social Welfare Committee.

The ministry has mobilized officials at the grass-roots level, social workers, police officers and teachers to identify children in high-risk families to provide assistance and counseling, Lee said. The campaign will target families in which parents are addicted to drugs or alcohol, currently unemployed or serving prison sentences.

The government will provide each child from a high-risk family with NT$3,000 every month for six months. The subsidy will be provided for up to a year.

Lee estimated that 15,000 children will benefit from the program.

In addition to screening high-risk families, Lee said the central government will assist local governments in making up a shortfall in social workers.

Taiwan currently has 189 social workers, but Lee said he hopes to boost that number to 323.

The central government will provide 40 percent of the funds needed to employ the additional social workers, with local governments shouldering the remaining 60 percent, Lee said.

Lee said that 30 percent of the funding for the emergency subsidy program for children in high-risk families will be provided by local governments, with the central government shouldering the remaining 70 percent.

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