Commission on Children convenes 15th meeting


     The Chief Secretary for Administration, Mr Chan Kwok-ki, today (November 21) chaired the 15th meeting of the Commission on Children.

     At the meeting, the Government briefed members on the progress of the Pilot Project on Tier 1 Support Services in Kindergartens (KGs)/KG-cum-Child Care Centres (CCCs) implemented since August 2020. Under the Project, the Social Welfare Department has commissioned non-governmental organisations to run project teams to provide early intervention services for over 2 400 Tier 1 children awaiting assessment by Child Assessment Centres under the Department of Health, or assessed by the Centres to have borderline developmental problems, in about 80 KGs or KG-cum-CCCs that participate in the On-site Pre-school Rehabilitation Services. Members noted the preliminary findings of the evaluative study, which showed that about 70 per cent of the participating children had achieved progress in a number of areas such as cognition, language development and social/self-care skills; parents considered the relevant training useful in fostering positive parenting and reducing stress; and schools found a classroom setting flexible and non-labelling. Members heeded the synergy achieved by having the same service provider serve children with different levels of special needs in the same KGs or KG-cum-CCCs.

     Members noted the health status of children in Hong Kong during the COVID-19 epidemic and discussed the impact of the epidemic on the physical, mental and social well-being of children. Members expressed concern about children’s lifestyle during the epidemic having resulted in increased overweight, vision and mental health problems. Members offered views on how to address children’s needs when social activities are being resumed, and improve their physical and mental health. Suggestions included strengthening the promotion of early and timely COVID-19 vaccination for children and adolescents; providing health-related information for parents and students; encouraging students to develop a healthy lifestyle and participate in physical activities; and enhancing training for teachers and school personnel in order for them to identify early, and then cater for, students’ mental health needs. The Commission will conduct a stakeholder engagement session in December 2022 to gather views of professionals, parents and children on how to strengthen support for the mental health of children with specific needs.

     Members were updated on the follow-up actions on the recommendations in the Review Report of the Residential Child Care and Related Services. Members noted that the Government had identified areas requiring focused efforts for improvement, including service monitoring and supervision, service quality and service planning. The Social Welfare Department has started following up the recommendations. Actions taken included, in particular, strengthening inspection and enforcement efforts, and setting up service quality groups comprising Justices of the Peace and independent persons from different backgrounds of the community to conduct unannounced inspections at residential child care centres.

     In addition, members noted that the Government had completed the stakeholder engagement exercise on the legislative proposal on the mandatory reporting requirement for suspected child abuse cases and reported on the outcome to the Panel on Welfare Services of the Legislative Council on November 14. Members also noted the stakeholders’ support in general for the legislative proposal and their offering of views on implementation details, including reporting criteria, obligations and safeguarding provisions of making reports, resources and supporting measures, as well as public education and promotional work. The Government aims to introduce a bill into the Legislative Council in the first half of 2023.