Tue, May 30, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Interior ministry offers money to `high-risk' families

CNA , TAIPEI

The Ministry of the Interior (MOI) launched an aid program yesterday that will provide a monthly living subsidy of NT$3,000 (US$93) for each child from high-risk families.

Under the program, children from families that encounter emergencies will be eligible to receive the subsidy for up to 12 months at most.

MOI officials said the ministry will mobilize officials at the grassroots level, social workers, police officers and teachers to help locate high-risk families, including those encountering emergency financial situations or whose breadwinners are drug or alcohol addicts, unemployed, imprisoned, divorced, seriously ill or mentally challenged.

Unlike other social welfare benefits, the officials said, beneficiaries of the emergency aid program will receive family consulting services in addition to monthly living subsidies.

The program is expected to benefit 15,000 disadvantaged children and adolescents, they said.

The MOI began crafting the program earlier this year after a spate of distressing cases involving child abuse and parents in financial hardship taking the lives of themselves and their children.

The government will provide 70 percent of the funding needed for the program, with the remaining 30 percent raised by local governments, the officials said.

In view of a rapid increase in the number of high-risk families and child abuse cases, the officials said, the ministry will offer financial support for local governments to recruit more social workers specializing in child protection and counseling.

According to the MOI plan, the number of professional social workers specializing in helping abused children and youngsters in trouble will be increased to 505 from the current 189.

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