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Care and guidance give strong support for children's growth and development (with photos)

     The Director of Social Welfare (DSW) is not only the head of the Social Welfare Department (SWD) but also the legal guardian of DSW wards. Being the "father" of these children and young persons, Mr Patrick Nip believes that care and guidance give strong support for children's growth and development.

     There are currently some 750 children and young persons who are unable or not suitable to live with their families for various reasons, such as the death, loss, imprisonment, long-term hospitalisation or incapability of their parents, and have been made wards of the DSW by the Juvenile Court in accordance with the Protection of Children and Juveniles Ordinance (Cap 213).

     Mr Nip always seeks to pay visits to these "sons and daughters" if time allows, including a recent one at Holland Hostel run by the Hong Kong Student Aid Society (HKSAS) where eight of his wards were among the teenage residents.

     During the visit, Mr Nip was briefed by the acting Chairperson of the HKSAS Executive Committee, Mr Weymond Lam, on the services and facilities of the hostel. He also took the opportunity to mingle with the teenage residents by joining their activities and having dinner with them, through which their feelings and opinions could be heard.

     Mr Nip was pleased to learn that the services of the hostel had enabled the teenage residents to make significant improvements in respect of their behaviour, emotions, mindsets and relationships with their families, and to take the initiative to map out the road ahead. He encouraged them to continue to work hard, build up positive values and strive for their own goals.

     As prevention and timely intervention are of paramount importance in the handling of juvenile problems, the SWD has earmarked an additional $12 million per year to establish three more youth outreaching teams (YOTs) - one each in Tseung Kwan O, Ma On Shan and Tung Chung - in the latter half of 2012-13, bringing the total number of YOTs to 37 throughout Hong Kong. Social workers of the teams will reach out to youths at risk, providing counselling and referring them to mainstream services as appropriate, including hostel placement for those in need of care and accommodation.

     Holland Hostel is one of the boys' homes serving children and young persons who have behavioural or emotional problems and lack proper family care. The hostel provides a total of 95 residential places - 72 for students, 15 for working youths and eight for emergency use by young night drifters.
     With a total grant of nearly $11 million in 2009 and 2011 by the Lotteries Fund, Holland Hostel just completed its renovation projects last month. The improved environment, including the addition of a music room, a dancing room and a fitness room, better caters to the growth and developmental needs of the teenage residents.

     In Hong Kong, there are seven non-governmental organisations subvented by the SWD to run 14 boys'/girls' homes or hostels. The homes serve children and young persons aged 7 to 20 with behavioural or emotional problems, while the hostels are for students or working youths who are aged 14 to 20 and may have minor behavioural or emotional problems. The 14 institutions now provide a total of 962 residential places and the SWD will allocate an extra $3 million to provide 30 additional places in 2012-13.

Ends/Saturday, June 16, 2012
Issued at HKT 17:01


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