Working parents get a helping hand in Zhejiang

By Ma Zhenhuan in Hangzhou (China Daily) 16:13, August 08, 2023

Stall holders at a bustling night market in Dongyang, Zhejiang province, now have one less thing to worry about after the local trade union federation helped to establish a child care center for their youngsters.

The center was launched in June on the city's Zhenxing Road to help alleviate the pressure on many of those running its 435 street stalls, many of whom are migrant workers from around the country and have no local relatives to help take care of their children.

During a visit earlier this year to the crowded and noisy market in the city's Wuning subdistrict, Mao Fenghua, head of the local trade union federation, found a child doing homework near a street stall. As a result, she decided to take action.

"The night market is noisy and crowded. It is hard for the children to keep their attention focused on their studies with all the noise, and the parents will never be able to concentrate on their business if they have to look after their children," she said.

Mao visited every stall along the road to learn about the difficulties faced by the parents.

One of these was Xia Qiongfang, from Hubei province, who sells screen protectors for mobile devices at the night market alongside her husband.

The couple have no locally based relatives to help care for their young son, so they had no other option but to take him to the market with them.

But sometimes they were too busy to keep an eye on the boy, and one night he vanished. They looked frantically for him, fearing the worst. Fortunately, he was soon found walking home, but Xia remembers the terror she felt.

Zhang Hao rents an apartment near the night market, and he used to have to leave his 6-year-old son alone at home during work. "I had to go back home frequently to check on him," Zhang said.

After collecting a list of problems, Mao, the local trade union federation head, set up a child care center to help the market traders.

She also won the backing of the local stall holders' federation, and its office was transformed into a 300-square-meter child care center equipped with teaching tools.

Child care services are free for the stall holders, who can leave children age 4 to 12 at the center from 4 pm to 8 pm. More than 70 children have been sent to the center.

Market trader Qian Xiaohui said: "I can see how my daughter is getting on in the videos posted in the center's WeChat group. I'm grateful to the staff for teaching her to read poems."

Cai Dongdong, another stall holder at the market, said, "Now I can focus on my business without worrying about my child."

Meanwhile, in Ningbo, Zhejiang province, the authorities in a local area have taken steps to alleviate the burden on working parents during the long school summer vacation.

A summer camp program has been established in the Shounan subdistrict of the city's Yinzhou district to help the around 23,000 employees in the area, most of whom are office workers in their 30s and 40s and in great need of child care services. The summer camp program was designed especially for their children, and its program includes various courses.

Xiang Qiqin, a white collar worker with a 9-year-old daughter, promptly applied for the program. "My husband and I were racking our brains thinking about how to take care of my daughter," Xiang said. "The summer camp program has helped us."

Yu Yinin Ningbo, Zhejiang province, contributed to this story.

(Web editor: Zhong Wenxing, Liang Jun)


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