Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Email this article
LCQ12: Child care services

     Following is a question by the Dr Hon Helena Wong and a written reply by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, in the Legislative Council today (Dec 12):


     Regarding child care services subsidised by the Government, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the details of child care services currently subsidised by the Government, broken down by District Council (DC) district (set out in the attached table 1);

(b) whether it has compiled statistics on the existing number of parents who are the main child carers and the number of children concerned, and provide a breakdown by DC district and the age of the children (set out in the attached table 2 below);

(c) of the numbers of child care centres and kindergartens (including whole-day and half-day ones) subsidised by the Government in various districts, as well as the average waiting time by children for such places and the number of children involved, broken down by DC district; and

(d) of the Government's total expenditure on child care services in the 2011-2012 financial year and a breakdown of such expenditure?



     To support parents who are unable to take care of their children temporarily because of work or other reasons, the Social Welfare Department (SWD) provides subvention to non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to run a variety of day child care services, and has endeavoured to enhance the flexibility of such services. Families with financial difficulty may apply for different service subsidies or fee waiver.

     My reply to the four parts of Dr Hon Helena Wong's question is as follows:

(a)&(c) Child care centres provide day-time care services to children below the age of three. Many child care centres are attached to kindergartens and operated in the form of kindergarten-cum-child care centres, providing education and care services to children aged six or below.

     Some child care centres and kindergarten-cum-child care centres also provide occasional child care services, ranging from full day, half day to hourly sessions, to support parents who need to deal with urgent or important matters. Some centres also provide extended hours services to assist parents who are in need of longer hours of child care services.

     For children aged six to 12, SWD has launched the After School Care Programme (ASCP) which is run by NGOs on a self-financing and fee-charging basis. Services provided include homework guidance, parental guidance and education, skills learning, meal service and other social activities. SWD has also introduced a fee-waiving subsidy scheme for families with social needs.

     In addition, in 2008-2009, SWD launched the three-year Neighbourhood Support Child Care Project (NSCCP) for children aged under six on a pilot basis in order to enhance the flexibility and accessibility of the services, and at the same time promote community participation and mutual assistance in the neighbourhood. NSCCP consists of two service components: the home-based child care service which operates from 7am to 11pm, and the centre-based care group which usually operates till at least 9pm on weekdays, and covers some weekends and some public holidays. Low-income families with social needs may apply for half or full fee waiver. Under special circumstances, children aged six or above may also use the service so that they will not be left unattended. The review conducted upon completion of the pilot NSCCP in March 2011 indicated that NSCCP had achieved the aim of promoting community participation and neighbourhood mutual help, while providing flexible child care support to families in need. Upon the regularisation and extension of NSCCP by SWD to all 18 districts in October 2011, the minimum number of places of child care services was increased by 64%, ie from at least 440 places to at least 720 places (including 468 home-based child care places and 252 centre-based care group places). In order to meet the community's demand for child care services, service operators would increase the number of home-based child care places on a need basis and develop child carers' network to promote mutual help in the neighbourhood.

     The numbers of places and utilisation rates or numbers of beneficiaries of various services are tabulated at Annex 1. The estimated expenditure of 2012-2013 on child care services is $236.1 million. The Administration does not maintain a breakdown by district of the waiting time and number of applicants.

(b) In planning its services, SWD assesses the service needs of individual districts having regard to their local characteristics, such as the population of children, relevant socio-economic factors, availability and utilisation of existing child care services, etc. The Administration does not maintain a breakdown by district of the number of full-time carers at home. District Social Welfare Offices of SWD consult district organisations, District Councillors and local residents on the needs for child care services in the districts. The respective numbers of children in age groups "below three", "three to below six", "six to below 12" and "12 to below 17" in 2011 broken down by the 18 District Council districts in Hong Kong are listed at Annex 2.

(d) In the 2011-2012 financial year, government expenditure on child care centres (including standalone child care centres and those attached to kindergartens) was $159.6 million; expenditure on NSCCP amounted to $26.4 million; and the fee-waiving subsidy scheme under the ASCP amounted to $13.6 million. The Government's total expenditure on the above services amounted to $199.6 million.

Ends/Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Issued at HKT 12:57


Print this page