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CS attends seminar on supporting children with special needs (with photos)

     The Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Carrie Lam, this morning (February 27) attended a seminar on supporting children with special needs organised by the Young Children SEN Concern Group (the Concern Group) at the Hong Kong Society for the Protection of Children Services Centre in Mong Kok.

     During the seminar, Mrs Lam briefed about 200 parents, workers from the educational and social welfare sectors and representatives of the Concern Group on the Pilot Scheme on On-site Pre-school Rehabilitation Services and a series of measures to strengthen support for children with special needs announced by the Chief Executive in his 2016 Policy Address last month. She listened to the views of the participants to understand more about the situations of children with special needs and their parents.

     Mrs Lam told the seminar attendees that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government is all along committed to implementing the policy objective of "early identification, timely intervention" for children with special needs. Earlier on, the HKSAR Government put in place the Pilot Scheme on On-site Pre-school Rehabilitation Services using the Lotteries Fund to provide on-site rehabilitation training to children with special needs who are studying at ordinary kindergartens or kindergarten-cum-child care centres. There are over 2 900 service places covering more than 450 kindergartens or kindergarten-cum-child care centres. The 16 participating non-governmental organisations have started providing services gradually from November last year to January this year.

     The Government, in the Policy Agenda published on the same day as 2016 Policy Address, undertook that the Labour and Welfare Bureau will conduct a comprehensive review of the two-year Pilot Scheme and help determine the mode of operation when the scheme is regularised. Unlike the usual practice of considering whether to regularise a scheme after the completion of the pilot scheme, the Government has reserved recurrent annual expenditure of $470 million to regularise the scheme immediately after the completion of the Pilot Scheme to provide a maximum of 7 000 service places in phases and reduce the service waiting time to almost zero (according to the current number of people waiting for service). In addition, the Policy Address also announced the establishment of a new Child Assessment Centre under the Department of Health to deliver the performance pledge of providing assessment and professional diagnosis within six months.

     For children in low-income families who are currently not benefiting from the above pilot scheme and are waiting for Special Child Care Centres, the Government will increase the monthly training hours under the Training Subsidy Progamme. Furthermore, in connection with the implementation of free quality kindergarten education by the HKSAR Government from the 2017/18 school year, the charges of Special Child Care Centres will be waived starting from that school year; children queuing for Special Child Care Centres will benefit directly from the Training Subsidy Programme and will no longer be required to undergo means test. The Government will continue to increase the quota for Pre-school Rehabilitation Services and to pursue the Special Scheme on Privately Owned Sites for Welfare Uses. Training and manpower for kindergarten teaching will also be enhanced.

     "These measures demonstrate fully the commitment of the current-term Government in taking care of children with special needs and providing them with a better environment for growing up,กจ Mrs Lam said.

     Officials accompanying Mrs Lam to the seminar and the visit included the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung; the Permanent Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Miss Annie Tam; the Commissioner for Rehabilitation, Mr David Leung; the Director of Social Welfare, Ms Carol Yip; the Deputy Director of Social Welfare (Services), Mr Lam Ka-tai; and the Deputy Secretary for Education, Mrs Michelle Wong.

Ends/Saturday, February 27, 2016
Issued at HKT 13:49


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