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Premier lays out improvements to social service systems to protect children


Premier Chen Chien-jen on Thursday received a Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) report on the handling of and government response to the case of a one-year-old boy who died allegedly from abuse while placed in foster care last year. The premier said this case demonstrates that the nation still requires a more thorough and strong social safety net. Following a detailed investigation, the MOHW has proposed five major areas for improvement to build a more solid and effective protection network.

Ensuring the full, healthy development and well-being of children and youths is not only an issue of great concern for the Taiwanese people, but also one of the most important, fundamental tenets of the Convention on the Rights of the Child upheld by both the United Nations and Taiwan. The premier said the central government, local governments and civic organizations must work together to actively confront and examine this case, taking an open-minded and pragmatic approach to conduct a comprehensive review of the issues involved, and put forward concrete and detailed measures to regulate, prevent and monitor such incidents in the future.

Premier Chen said the proposed five major areas for improvement are: (1) establishing a comprehensive mechanism of standards and processes to strengthen foster care and adoption placement, needs assessments, and frequency of visits to child care services; (2) strengthening cooperation between social work and health care administrative networks; (3) clarifying lines of responsibility between the central and local governments, as well as means of cooperation with civic organizations; (4) reviewing mechanisms for handling cases of severe child abuse; and (5) enhancing the skills and sensitivity of specialized workers and professionals. The premier instructed the MOHW to rapidly complete the relevant planning and implementation work.

Premier Chen said that the government has continued to increase funding in this area in recent years, and has also been actively promoting a program to strengthen Taiwan's social security net. The program aims to augment social service systems, increase the specialist staff of local governments, and closely integrate private sector resources to expand the locations and scope of social welfare services. By effectively integrating and linking up the various standalone systems and specialist services, Taiwan hopes to build a secure and protective network that extends from families into the wider community.

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