Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program: Child care facilities

  • Date: 2017-07-31

I. Background

One of the basic elements of a country is its population, whose composition, quality, distribution, development and migration all have an important impact on national development and society’s well-being. For Taiwan, the progressive decline in the national birth rate coupled with the slowdown in population growth have brought about an increase in the proportion of seniors (ages 65 and over). If the situation continues to deteriorate, the working-age population (ages 15-64) will shrink in the coming years, affecting family life, causing a labor shortage, even threatening the sustainable development of the nation itself.

To address the falling birth rate, the government has implemented a raft of policies and measures including a plan under the Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program to create friendly child care spaces. This plan will accelerate the establishment of public nurseries, create friendly child care spaces, and provide care services at reasonable prices and guaranteed quality. These efforts help alleviate the economic burden on parents, remove barriers to women’s employment, and help reverse the declining birth rate crisis.

II. Community-based public nurseries (for ages 2 and under)

The plan will combine national and community resources to help ease the burden of parenting and support families raising children.

A. Promote community-based public nurseries: Local governments will receive subsidies to create affordable, safe, small-community, homestyle care nurseries that combine the advantages of nursery centers and home child care services. These nurseries will offer quality services at reasonable prices. The plan will also inject resources into indigenous and rural nurseries, customizing services to accommodate local culture and at locations close to people’s homes.

B. Establish nursery resource centers: Unused space or buildings will be converted or renovated into nursery resource centers and equipped with proper facilities. These centers will form community-centered networks that provide localized, high-quality integrated nursery resources and services close to home, including nursery and care consultation and educational activities for the whole family. In resource-deprived areas, mobile outreach services will be deployed to provide children’s toys and books for loan, sending resources into the community to improve accessibility.

C. Set up or improve regional family (social) welfare service centers: As part of efforts to strengthen the social safety net, the plan will provide local governments with subsidies to set up one regional family (social) welfare service center for every 150,000 people, or according to police precinct jurisdictions. These centers will offer comprehensive family welfare services to support child raising, and create tight networks of community-based welfare services so that families in the community can receive quality care.

D. Set up multifunctional social welfare buildings: Local governments will receive subsidies to renovate, repair and equip social welfare buildings to meet the needs of the whole family and individual members, including to renovate family friendly rooms, nursing rooms and barrier-free facilities as part of a range of nursery and welfare services close to home. The buildings will also integrate the welfare needs of family members, providing a localized, quality service network close to home that promotes cross-generational interaction and strengthens core family functions.

E. Provide child-rearing information packets: Provide complete information on child-rearing knowledge and service resources to help expecting families get ready for life with a newborn. These information and resources will help parents save time in finding resources and ease the stress of child care, narrow the information gap between rural and urban areas, and convey the government’s care and support for families with newborns.

F. Infrastructure objectives: The plan aims to establish 120 community-based public nurseries, set up 170 nursery resource centers, provide 630,000 child-rearing information packets, set up or improve 94 regional family (social) welfare service centers and 40 multifunctional welfare buildings, improve service capacities, and make welfare services more widespread and closer to the people that need them.

III. Friendly child care spaces (for ages 3-6)

Using a one-time subsidy strategy for construction of new kindergartens, the plan will help local governments resolve problems of insufficient space for public kindergartens, and ease parenting burdens by providing quality and sustainable educational and care services.

A. Increase the supply of public education and care services: Local governments will receive subsidies to construct new public kindergartens on extra school grounds or on unused sites where old schools have been torn down.

B. Build dedicated spaces for young children: Local governments and applicant schools may select their own architects to incorporate special characteristics from the school and surrounding community into the construction process, creating a safe and secure education and care environment that reflects the culture of the people and the characteristics of the land. This will be a special space for young children to freely explore and learn, and serve as an example for other local governments when building safe education and care service environments.

C. Infrastructure objectives: By the 2020 academic year, the plan expects to subsidize the establishment of 200 public kindergarten classes at 50 schools, provide opportunities for 5,800 children to attend public kindergartens, and offer work opportunities to 600 education and care service professionals.

IV. Conclusion

A comprehensive child care policy can allow parents to find a balance between home and work demands while easing the burdens families face when raising children. It will also create a quality environment for children’s growth, encourage people to have more kids, and ensure the overall sustainable development of the nation and society.