Government strives to provide appropriate child care and rehabilitation support services for young children (with photos)

     Parental nurturing in a harmonious family environment is vital for the healthy development of children. To commend parents' selfless dedication and promote family harmony on Mother's Day, the Labour and Welfare Bureau and the Social Welfare Department (SWD) together with the Women's Commission and 16 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) jointly organised the "My Happy Family" colouring and drawing competition.

     Officiating at the award presentation ceremony of the competition today (May 8), the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, said that the Government has been striving to provide children with appropriate educational, medical, social welfare and rehabilitation services to help them grow healthily. For children with special needs, the relevant measures have been continually enhanced in the provision of rehabilitation services so as to provide all-round support in meeting the needs of children of different abilities.

     "To provide timely training support for children under 6 who are at their prime time of development, the SWD launched the two-year Pilot Scheme on On-site Pre-school Rehabilitation Services in phases starting in November 2015 through the Lotteries Fund. Under the Pilot Scheme, on-site rehabilitation services are offered to children with special needs who are studying in ordinary kindergartens (KGs) or kindergarten-cum-child care centres (KG-cum-CCCs). The Pilot Scheme is operated by 16 NGOs and provides 2 925 on-site service places in more than 450 KGs and KG-cum-CCCs, covering almost half of the KGs and KG-cum-CCCs in Hong Kong.

     "Moreover, to relieve the pressure of child care on working parents, the Government has enhanced child care and after-school care services using a multi-pronged approach. For pre-school children below the age of 6, the SWD increased the number of Extended Hours Service places by about 5 000 at aided CCCs and KG-cum-CCCs in districts with high demand in phases from 2015-16 onwards. The Government will also commission a consultancy study to review the current child care services in order to formulate medium and long-term planning of child care service provision.

     "Regarding after school care services for children aged between 6 and 12, the SWD started the Enhanced After School Care Programme and provided additional fee-waiving and fee-reduction quotas in some centres in December 2014. The service hours on weekday evenings, Saturdays, Sundays and school holidays have also been extended to cater for working parents' needs and strengthen support for women who intend to rejoin the workforce," Mr Cheung said.

     At the award presentation ceremony today there were over 100 participants. They included the children awardees and their parents, the Convenor of Working Group on Public Education of Women's Commission, Ms Catherine Wong; the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Council of Social Service, Mr Chua Hoi-wai; representatives of the 16 NGOs providing pre-school rehabilitation services; and headmasters and teachers of KGs or KG-cum-CCCs of the awardees. Other government officials present were the Permanent Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Miss Annie Tam; the Director of Social Welfare, Ms Carol Yip; the Commissioner for Rehabilitation, Mr David Leung; and representatives from the Education Bureau and the Department of Health.

     The competition aimed at encouraging the children to present drawings of their happy families for Mother's Day, and to cultivate the idea of social inclusion among them when they filled in colouring sheets themed on social harmony. The competition received an overwhelming response with over 6 300 entries. Twenty winning drawings and 40 with merits were selected by a professional judging panel formed by Professor Kevin Chung from the Hong Kong Institute of Education and the Chairperson of the Society of Children's Book Illustrators, Ms Maxim Tang.

     In addition to the ceremony, all winning entries were displayed on the ground floor of the Central Ferry Pier 8 today. The drawings enabled visitors to see what a happy family means in the eyes of these innocent children, as well as showing the children's sense of aesthetics, creativity and painting skills.

Ends/Sunday, May 8, 2016
Issued at HKT 16:29