Launching of Pilot Scheme on On-site Pre-school Rehabilitation Services this month (with photos)

     The Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Carrie Lam, officiated and gave an opening address at the launching of the Pilot Scheme on On-site Pre-school Rehabilitation Services (the Pilot Scheme) held today (November 14) at the conference hall of the Central Government Offices.

     Among more than 500 attendees, there are representatives from 16 NGOs running the Pilot Scheme as well as principals and teachers of the participating kindergartens (KGs) and kindergarten-cum-child care centres (KGs-cum-CCCs), parents of children with special needs and members of parents groups, etc. Other officials attending the event included the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr Ko Wing-man, and the Secretary for Education, Mr Eddie Ng Hak-kim.

     Speaking at the event, Mrs Lam said that "early identification, timely intervention" has all along been the policy direction of the Government in providing services and support for children with special needs and the Government has been striving to provide them with suitable rehabilitation, medical and educational support services. It will continue to strengthen relevant measures to render all-round support to meet these children's needs and to enable them to grow healthily.

     Mrs Lam said, "Following the veto of the constitutional development proposals, the current Government will focus on the development of the economy and improving the livelihood of people within the remaining term of administration. Children are the pillars of future society and the responsibility of enabling them to grow healthily definitely rests with the Government. During  the past few months, I have been working with relevant policy bureaux and government departments, including the Labour and Welfare Bureau, the Education Bureau, the Food and Health Bureau, the Social Welfare Department, the Department of Health and the Hospital Authority, to review the existing policies, and through suitable coordination has come up with effective measures which will bring concrete improvement and progress in the provision of services for children with special needs."

     In recent years, there has been keen demand for subvented pre-school rehabilitation services. The Social Welfare Department (SWD) is currently offering 6 810 pre-school rehabilitation service places and the average waiting time for subvented pre-school rehabilitation services in 2014-15 ranges from 13 to more than 19 months. Up to October this year, about 6 000 children are wait-listing for subvented pre-school rehabilitation services, including 3 386 for Early Education and Training Centres, 1 351 for integrated programmes at KG-cum-CCCs; and 1 248 for special child care centres.

     To provide services to the needy children as early as possible, the Chief Executive announced in the Policy Address early this year that a two-year pilot scheme be launched in 2015-16 through the Lotteries Fund to provide on-site rehabilitation training to children with special needs who are studying at ordinary KGs or KG-cum-CCCs.

     Before the Pilot Scheme is implemented, individual social welfare organisations, either through the sponsorship of charitable trust funds or on their own resources, have provided on-site services at KGs or KG-cum-CCCs on a trial basis with desirable results. The Chief Secretary for Administration, the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, the Secretary for Education and other officials concerned have paid visits to the KGs and centres running these trial projects and met with the principals of KGs and parents to have a deeper understanding of the support required by kindergarten children with special needs.

     "The Pilot Scheme, in terms of its scale and format, is unprecedented in the social welfare sector. A total of 16 social welfare organisations join in the scheme. The Lotteries Fund allocated over $420 million to provide over 2 900 training places covering more than 450 schools, i.e. almost half of the KGs and KG-cum-CCCs in Hong Kong. In other words, over 2 900 children on the waiting list can immediately receive suitable services," Mrs Lam said.

     The 16 NGOs running the Pilot Scheme will commence their services between November 2015 and January 2016. Under the Pilot Scheme, the multi-disciplinary service teams of the NGOs, which are composed of social workers, speech therapists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, clinical psychologists / educational psychologists and special child care workers, will offer on-site rehabilitation services and training to children with special needs, supplemented by training at centres with rehabilitation facilities. The service teams will also give professional advice to kindergarten teachers and child care workers to assist them in taking care of children with special needs. They will also provide support for parents in fostering positive attitude and developing effective skills in raising their children with special needs.

     Apart from exploring the service mode of providing on-site rehabilitation services, the Government will continue to increase the provision of pre-school rehabilitation service places. It is expected that some 1 100 additional places for pre-school rehabilitation services will be provided in the coming five years. Moreover, in September 2013, the Government launched the Special Scheme on Privately Owned Sites for Welfare Uses, under which NGOs are encouraged to better use their land through in-situ expansion or redevelopment to provide diversified subvented and self-financing social welfare facilities. According to the preliminary estimation by the applicant organisations, about 3 800 additional places of early education and training centres and special child care centres can be provided in 25 initial proposals.

     At the event today, a representative from one of the participating NGOs shared their experience and achievements in implementing school-based supporting services in the past year through a charitable trust fund. During a panel discussion, a principal and a parent also shared their valuable experience with the attendees.

     Details of the Pilot Scheme are available on the SWD website ( For enquiries, people may call the Rehabilitation and Medical Social Services Branch of the SWD at 2892 5155 or 2892 5516 during office hours.

Ends/Saturday, November 14, 2015
Issued at HKT 16:01