At the Cabinet's weekly meeting Thursday, Premier Su Tseng-chang received a briefing from the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health and Welfare regarding the results of response policies to declining birth rates. The government set out to ease the hardships of married couples raising children by creating more enrollment slots, increasing subsidies and reducing burdens, the premier said. Since the policy measures were first implemented, the number of applicants and beneficiaries has increased substantially.
Beginning from August, childrearing allowances will be raised to NT$5,000 (US$168), the premier said. For children ages 0-2, subsidies will be raised to NT$5,500 (US$185) for attending public child care centers, and to NT$8,500 (US$285) for attending quasi-public child care centers. The tuition fee cap for attending public and quasi-public preschools will be lowered to NT$3,000 (US$101) per month. In addition, further subsidies are available for newlyweds and childrearing households under the newly launched NT$30 billion (US$1 billion) expanded rent subsidy program.
In regards to creating more enrollment slots, the premier continued, the government has created additional spaces for children ages 0-6 at affordable preschools and child care facilities, which have jumped from over 180,000 spaces in 2016 to over 560,000 spaces in 2022. More than 800 such enrollment spots were opened up in 2021 for children of central government employees, in an effort to spur more public and private investment in setting up preschools. To provide stable housing for young families, the government has also actively pushed construction of social housing, which has already reached 58,000 units and now requires space to be set aside for child care facilities.
Regarding subsidies, the government last year devoted nearly NT$10 billion (US$356.9 million) to building a comprehensive and supportive environment for pregnancy and childrearing. Subsidies for fertility treatments have been expanded, with more than 40,000 applications approved and 26,000 people receiving subsidies. The number of prenatal examinations has also been increased from 10 to 14, while the number of regular ultrasound exams has been raised from one to three.
Stipends for parental leave without pay have been increased from 60% to 80% of wages, with the 20% difference being footed by the government. The number of applicants for these stipends has grown more than 30% compared with the same period the previous year, and nearly 100,000 people have benefited.
As for reducing burdens, the government has raised the special deduction for preschool children nearly fivefold from NT$25,000 (US$839) to NT$120,000 (US$4,028).
The premier expressed hope that the public and private sectors can work together to create a better and friendlier environment to raise the nation's birth rate and improve the quality of child care, thereby giving young people the courage to enter marriage, have children and raise families.