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Premier touts outstanding results of national child care policy

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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 2021 results of policies to counter declining birth rates. The government has continued implementing its national child care policy for ages 0-6, the premier said, expanding the program's beneficiaries to nearly 1.3 million people. The promotion of various measures to create a safe and friendly environment for pregnancy and childrearing has also shown outstanding results.

In order to carry out the policy, the premier said, the government in recent years has continued measures to reduce the burden on families with children by increasing childrearing subsidies, reducing tuition costs and creating additional slots at affordable schools. Beneficiaries of these programs now total almost 1.3 million people. Since July 2021, the government has also earmarked an additional nearly NT$10 billion (US$356.4 million) annually to enable all those in the process of having children—from conception to early pregnancy to prenatal exams to infant care⁠—to enjoy an encouraging environment with greater national support.

Regarding the policy goals to raise subsidies and ease burdens, Premier Su said that monthly childrearing allowances will be raised from NT$3,500 (US$125) to NT$5,000 (US$178) starting August. Furthermore, the monthly tuition cap for public and quasi-public preschools will be lowered to NT$3,000 (US$107).

In addition, to create more slots, the government will further increase space for children ages 0-6 at affordable preschools and child care facilities, the premier said. These slots have already risen from 187,000 spaces in 2016 to 526,000 spaces in 2021, a nearly threefold increase.

The government is also striving to create a supportive environment for pregnancy and childrearing, the premier said. Since fertility treatment subsidies were expanded last July 1, nearly 16,000 people have received the subsidies, and the number of treatments provided has jumped over 70% compared with the same period the year before. The number of subsidized obstetric examinations has also been raised, resulting in a more than 11% rise in the number of exams provided over the same period the year before.

Stipends for people taking parental leave without pay were raised from 60% to 80% of their salary, leading to a 30% rise in the number of applicants—including a nearly 60% increase among male applicants—compared with the same period the year before. The government also allowed greater flexibility for people applying for parental leave without pay, causing a nearly 70% increase in the number of applicants, including a 125% surge among male applicants.

Furthermore, the government has changed regulations to encourage parents in dual-income families to spend more time with their young children. Effective this January, workers at businesses with less than 30 employees may request more flexible work hours, and both parents of young children may apply at the same time for parental leave without pay along with stipends. Additionally, the number of paid leave days to undergo obstetric exams and to accompany a spouse for exams and birth have all been raised to seven days. The wages for the two extra days leave are fully subsidized by the government.

Premier Su further pointed out that government funds devoted to encouraging births have ballooned from over NT$15 billion (US$464.1 million) in 2016 to more than NT$80 billion (US$2.9 billion) this year. Next year's funding is expected to reach almost NT$100 billion (US$3.6 billion). The administration is extremely sincere and determined to provide an environment supportive of people who want to have children and raise families, the premier said.

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