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LCQ10: Small group home

     Following is a question by the Hon Wong Sing-chi and a written reply by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, in the Legislative Council today (February 25):


     Recently, a sex crime occurred in a small group home (SGH) operated by a non-governmental organisation (NGO) which involved a 15-year-old girl being alleged of having indecently assaulted a 10-year-old boy staying at the same institution.  Regarding the monitoring of the operation of such institutions by the Social Welfare Department (SWD), will the Government inform this Council:

(a)  of the number of reports received by the authorities in the past three years of crimes in SGHs, broken down by the type of offence involved as well as the gender and age group of the children involved;

(b)  of the average ratio of boys to girls as well as the average staff-to-child ratio in various SGHs at present;

(c)  whether each SGH must have a resident social worker; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(d)  whether NGOs operating SGHs are required to draw up guidelines on regulating the behaviour of children staying at such institutions; if so, how SWD monitors the implementation of such guidelines; if not, of the reasons for that; and

(e)  whether SWD has deployed staff to regularly inspect various SGHs; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



(a)  Except for the incident quoted in the question, the Social Welfare Department (SWD) has not received any report on crimes committed in small group homes in the past three years.

(b) & (c)  At present, some small group homes are for either boys or girls only, whereas some admit children of both sexes.  The boy-to-girl ratio of the latter type of small group homes is 1:1.

     In planning for small group homes, SWD normally locates three homes in close proximity.  They can provide a total of 24 places and are supervised by 11 staff members, including one social worker.

(d) & (e)  According to the "Funding and Service Agreements" drawn up between SWD and the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) operating small group homes, the NGO must meet all the "Service Quality Standards" which stipulate, among other things, that the small group home must have proper policies and procedures to ensure that services are provided in a safe environment and service users are free from abuse.  The NGO must evaluate the service unit regularly to ensure that it complies with the relevant policies and procedures, and must also submit an assessment report to SWD on an annual basis.

     To provide more efficient, customer-focused, accountable and output-driven welfare services, SWD and subvented NGOs have jointly introduced a Service Performance Monitoring System (SPMS).  Under SPMS, SWD conducts random spot checks on subvented service units (including small group homes) to evaluate their service quality and performance.  For instance, SWD will review the relevant policies and procedures and their implementation, inspect the service units and collect views directly from staff members and service users on the services provided.  Where reports are received from service users, parents, staff members or members of the public indicating that there are loopholes in the safety measures of individual service units, SWD will conduct unannounced inspections to check whether the service units concerned can effectively ensure the safety of service users and whether improvements have to be made.

Ends/Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Issued at HKT 15:17


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