The Chinese Childrenhome and Shelter Association (CCSA) on International Children's Rights Day yesterday asked all former children's home residents who are struggling financially to contact the association, and urged the government to set up a comprehensive system to protect the welfare of abandoned or abused children.
World Vision Taiwan also called on the government to pay greater heed to the growing child abuse problem in the country.
CCSA founder and Secretary-general Hung Jing-fang (洪錦芳) said many people care about children who are currently in homes and shelters but little help is available for those who are asked to leave once they reach the age of 18.
"According to our research, 80 percent of our former residents face severe financial hardship because they have to pay for everything on their own, such as tuition, rent, books, transportation and such. We urge these people to contact us and let us help them," Hung said.
One former resident and a college senior, Hsiao-yen (
Hsiao-yen was living in a children's shelter in eastern Taiwan before he went to college in Taipei. He works part-time to pay for his tuition and living expenses.
Hung said through the help of generous donors, CCSA was able to raise NT$13 million (US$402,000) this year to help alleviate the financial burden of former residents. But the sum, she said, will run out quickly unless the government can establish better measures to ensure the welfare of former residents after they leave homes.
In recent years, she said, over 70 percent of children that ended up at homes or shelters were victims of abuse, either physical or sexual, and less than 30 percent of the children return to their birth after their home stay expires.
Most of the former residents have to leave school to take on multiple jobs just to stay afloat, she said.
"Some children are passed around from their birth homes to different foster homes and then to shelters. The psychological damage to these children is immeasurable. We need to make sure their lives are not terrible after they leave the home as well," she said.
Hung said the law only mandates that people over the age of 18 leave the homes, but does not prohibit homes from kicking the residents out before they reach adulthood.
"Some places even ask 15-year-olds to leave because they are above the child-labor age limit," Hung added.
World Vision Taiwan yesterday said the organization's help hotline receives more than 250,000 phone calls a year, or 700 calls a day to report alleged child abuse cases or to ask for assistance because of domestic violence.
The organization revealed that more than 126 million children around the world are engaging in "dangerous" work and 150 million and 73 million young girls and boys respectively are either raped, sexually assaulted or live under the shadow of their abusers on a daily basis.