The New Power Party (NPP) and representatives of several civic groups yesterday urged the Ministry of Health and Welfare to build a national database of people with a record of child abuse to prevent them being employed at childcare centers.
While local governments have their own databases on child abuse cases, childcare professionals with abuse records would still be able to find jobs in other cities or countries unless such information is shared with the central government, Jing Chuan Child Safety Foundation chief executive Lin Yue-chin (林月琴) said.
“There is a lack of regulations governing such databases,” so the health ministry should follow the Ministry of Education’s example by establishing detailed regulations regarding its national database of teachers with misconduct records, she said.
Reducing stress among childcare professionals could also help prevent child abuse, she said.
“The high adult-to-child ratio increases the adults’ stress and if they lose emotional control, children become victims,” she said.
The national minimum adult-to-child ratio for children under two years is 1-5, which is relatively high compared with 1-3 in Canada and 1-4 in Australia, she said.
The government should also establish regulations requiring childcare centers to have a certain number of substitutes to ensure the ratio remains the same if regular staff members take time off, she said.
“In some cases, a childcare center can meet the 1-5 ratio when all its staff are working, but that ratio could increase to 1-8 or even 1-12 when some are taking time off,” she said.
To prevent the abuse of children at childcare centers, the government should improve education for childcare professionals on emotional management, instead of focusing solely on their childcare skills, Child Welfare League Foundation executive secretary Huang Yun-hsuan (黃韻璇) said.
When a childcare professional is reported for misconduct, local governments add the records to their own childcare professional database, Social and Family Affairs Deputy Director-General Chu Chien-fang (祝健芳) said.
When childcare providers hire new staff, the staff list is sent to the relevant local government agency, which would then check their system to see if that person has been blacklisted, she said.
The system can only be accessed by local government officials to check personal information such as ID numbers and addresses, she said, adding that the education ministry’s database is not open to the public.
The health ministry would consider building a national database to ensure the information can be shared by local governments, she said.
Under the Protection of Children and Youths Welfare and Rights Act (兒童及少年福利與權益保障法), local governments can publish the name of childcare professionals convicted of child abuse and the name of the center where they worked on government Web sites, she added.
NPP Executive Chairman Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) urged the health ministry to require all local governments to publish the name of childcare professionals with child abuse convictions and their places of employment, and offer a list of local governments that have not done so.
Chu said she would look into the proposal and report back in a week.
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