LCQ16: Residential child care services
Regarding residential child care services (RCCS), will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of the number of RCCS places, and among them, the respective numbers of emergency RCCS places and newly added places, as well as the average utilisation rate of RCCS, in each of the past five financial years, with a breakdown by category of services;
(2) of the number of children receiving foster care service in each of the past five financial years, with a breakdown by the age group to which they belonged (i.e. newborn to 2, 3 to 5, 6 to 11 and 12 to 18 years' old);
(3) given that in a discussion paper submitted to the Panel on Welfare Services of this Council in July this year, the Government indicated that it would provide 240 additional foster care service places by phases, of the latest progress of such work, as well as the implementation date and the number of service places involved in each phase;
(4) whether it knows, in respect of the New Comers' Ward operated by Po Leung Kuk, (i) the number of RCCS places, (ii) the average number of residents and (iii) the average service utilisation rate; as I have learnt that the service places of the New Comers' Ward are often fully utilised, of the Government's immediate solution for meeting the demand for such service; and
(5) of the long-term planning for RCCS formulated by the Government; whether it will establish a mechanism under which the number of RCCS places will be increased immediately when the utilisation rate of RCCS has reached a certain level, so as to ensure that the number of service places can meet unexpected demand?
My reply to the question raised is as follows:
(1) The numbers of places, numbers of additional places, numbers of emergency places and average utilisation rates of different types of residential child care services from 2012-13 to 2016-17 are set out at Annex 1.
(2) The numbers of children receiving foster care service by age group from 2012-13 to 2016-17 are set out at Annex 2.
(3) The Social Welfare Department (SWD) will provide 240 additional foster care places, including 60 foster care (emergency) places, in phases starting from 2017-18. The total number of foster care places will be increased from 1 070 at present to 1 310, of which the number of foster care (emergency) places will be increased from 95 at present to 155. The SWD will provide 60 additional foster care places, including 20 foster care (emergency) places, in 2017-18 as the first phase, and will provide the remaining 180 additional foster care places in phases starting from 2018-19.
(4) The Po Leung Kuk New Comers' Ward (the Ward) is a Children's Reception Centre which provides emergency residential care services for children aged 0 to under 18 with a total of 95 places. In 2016-17, the average number of residents of the Ward was 81.6 and the utilisation rate was 87 per cent. The SWD has all along been in close contact with Po Leung Kuk, and will consider the possibility of increasing the number of places where necessary. Besides, the SWD closely monitors the utilisation of all residential care places through the Central Referral System for Residential Child Care Services (CRSRCCS), and regularly reminds referring social workers to follow up on the cases of admission to the Ward and formulate long term welfare arrangements for these cases, so as to expedite the circulation of the residential care places.
(5) The SWD has been closely monitoring the utilisation of different types of residential child care services through the CRSRCCS, and striving to enhance the efficiency of application processing and service matching. The SWD has also been enhancing its service flow and information system on an ongoing basis in recent years to strengthen the monitoring work concerned. Meanwhile, the SWD regularly reviews the development of residential child care services with the welfare sector through the Residential Child Care Services Development Committee, and refines various arrangements to meet the changes in societal needs where practicable.
To meet the service demand and further enhance the support for children in need, the SWD increased 91 residential child care places from 2012-13 to 2016-17. As at September 2017, the total number of service places had been increased to 3 781, including the provision in 2017-18 of a total of 30 additional places and five additional emergency/short-term care places in four new small group homes in Shui Chuen O Estate, Sha Tin, as well as 84 additional places in the first phase of a girls' home with school for social development on site newly built by the Education Bureau and the SWD. In addition, the SWD plans to provide nine additional places in a girls' home in 2017-18 and 30 additional places in small group homes in 2018-19.
The SWD will continue to closely monitor the utilisation of different types of residential child care services and, when necessary, increase the number of places through service re-prioritisation or allocation of additional resources.
Ends/Wednesday, October 18, 2017
Issued at HKT 12:50
Issued at HKT 12:50