V. China's Welfare Homes for Children
China's welfare homes for children play a special role in the country's efforts to care for children. The welfare homes and some social welfare institutions that also accept orphans oer guardianship and rearing mainly to children who have lost their parents during natural disasters or accidents, and also to those abandoned by their parents because they are seriously or almost irremediably disabled mentally or physically, or because they have contracted a serious illness. Currently, there are about 20,000 such children under the guardianship and rearing of welfare institutions, accounting for five per one hundred thousand of the total number of juveniles in China.
Rearing Under Guardianship
In China, such rearing and emplacement of orphans or children abandoned for physical disability are under the charge of civil administration departments.
These are the ways that orphans are reared under guardianship in China: social welfare institutions set up by the government or collectives oer guardianship and rearing to some of the orphans till their adult age and give life support to idiotic and seriously disabled orphans under their care; some orphans are brought up in citizens' homes under the guardianship of welfare institutions; some orphans are adopted by domestic citizens and a small number by foreign citizens according to relevant laws.
By the end of 1995, there were a total of 73 welfare homes for children set up by local governments, oering guardianship and rearing to 8,900 orphans and abandoned ill or disabled children. More than 1,200 social welfare institutions in urban areas and some homes for the aged in rural areas have also oered guardianship and rearing to orphans and abandoned ill or disabled children. Some orphans and abandoned ill or disabled children are under the care of or legally adopted by common people. Moreover, there are a total of nearly ten thousand organizations serving orphans and disabled persons in communities throughout China, such as schools for orphans, rehabilitation centers, training classes for mentally retarded children, rehabilitation stations for disabled children and community rehabilitation stations, as well as about a hundred social welfare institutions established by individuals or organizations.
Apart from welfare institutions set up by the government and the society to take care of orphans and abandoned children, China encourages citizens to adopt these children so that they can enjoy a normal family life and grow up sound of body and mind. In order to protect legal adoption and the legal rights of the persons concerned, and to benefit the care and growth of adopted juveniles, the NPC Standing Committee of China stipulated the Adoption Law. According to this law, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Civil Affairs, with the approval of the State Council, published for implementation the Procedures for the Adoption of Children by Foreigners in the People's Republic of China. The adoption of orphans in China has laws to go by and is in full accord with the principles put forward by the United Nations in the Convention on the Rights of Children.
All adoption procedures are done strictly according to law. Both Chinese citizens and foreigners shall meet the conditions required by law and go through all necessary procedures. While handling the adoption procedures for the person concerned, the related departments of the Chinese Government charge the fees strictly according to law. As required by law, the adoptor shall pay to the welfare home the cost for upbringing of the adoptee, which will then be used to improve living conditions for other children in the institution. This cost is determined mainly through negotiations between the two parties.
Most of the funds for China's welfare homes for children come from appropriations by state and local financial departments (the funds being budgeted as full operating expenses for welfare homes in the financial report of each year), supplemented by other means, such as collective fund raising, welfare lotteries and donations. From 1990 to 1994, local financial departments had appropriated a total of 515 million yuan directly to urban welfare homes for children (of this total, 40 percent being used directly for the livelihood of the children), at an annual increase rate of 25.5 percent, thus guaranteeing the basic needs of the children. During this period, the state appropriated 740 million yuan specially for the improvement of welfare homes for children, including 240 million yuan raised from welfare lotteries published by central and local governments, 150 million yuan from local financial departments and 350 million yuan from donations.
The funds received by each welfare home around the country are different due to the various levels of economic development in each area. In economically developed areas, the average expense per child per month is 400 to 500 yuan while in the less developed areas, the amount is 200 to 300 yuan. Living expense of the children in the welfare homes is usually no lower than that of local citizens, in view of the fact that prices are comparatively low in China.
China's welfare homes for children have adopted a fairly complete, systematic administrative system. The system requires that the children shall be under a two to three month observation period before they are accepted. During the observation period the related departments search for the child's parents or confirm his or her identification while at the same time the child is given a comprehensive physical examination and isolation is practiced on children suffering from infectious diseases. The system also requires that there shall be a certain number of specialized personnel in each welfare home -- the specialized personnel in first-level state welfare homes shall account for above 70 percent, and in second-level, above 65 percent, of the total welfare home staff. Each welfare home for children has drawn up strict rules and regulations concerning every aspect of internal management and of the children's lives -- upbringing, nursing, medical care, rehabilitation, scientific research, community rehabilitation, training, and supporting service.
To supervise the implementation of these administrative procedures, the civil affairs departments have carried out regular inspections. Units that perform well are commended and those units or individuals who seriously violate regulations are penalized.
The Principle of Combining Upbringing,
Treatment and Education
The welfare homes for children in China practice the principle of combining upbringing, treatment and education.
Due to the special care given to China's helpless orphans and abandoned ill or disabled children, many of them have grown up and found jobs. With help from the government and people from all circles, the more than 4,200 orphans left in the 1976 Tangshan earthquake -- from a few months to 16 years old, except for those adopted by their relatives -- were all settled in the Xingtai Welfare Home for Children and at orphans' schools in Tangshan and Shijiazhuang. Most of their living and study expenses were borne by the state. In October 1995, Wang An, the last ``Tangshan earthquake orphan,'' left the welfare home that had oered him guardianship and rearing to work in a hospital. The Jilin Provincial Welfare Home for Children in Changchun has brought up 2,478 orphans since its establishment 38 years ago.
When they come to welfare homes, most children are suffering from serious illness or inherent disabilities. Welfare homes have paid much attention to treating these children to the most degree. Ill or disabled children in serious condition are sent to local hospitals for better treatment. In 1995, the number of the children nursed back to health exceeded 200. Welfare homes for children boast doctors, rehabilitators, nutritionists, as well as clinics, rehabilitation rooms, emergency treatment rooms, laboratories and pharmacies, giving timely treatment to ailing children. With help from the government and from people in all walks of life, many welfare homes own fairly advanced medical equipment to meet the basic needs of their children. At present, China has a professional staff who are devoted to the well-being of orphans and disabled children; medical personnel account for 32 percent of the total welfare home staff.
Since 1995, the Ministry of Civil Affairs and the Ministry of Pub"ilic Health have jointly launched health projects for disabled orphans throughout the country. Under the project, large hospitals give free hospitalization to orphans who need to undergo operations, and charge half of the normal surgical operation and treatment fees. Disabled children in welfare homes take part in various rehabilitation training programs, and some of them have recovered or basically recovered from disability.
At welfare homes, children with normal intelligence, no matter if they are physically handicapped or not, receive compulsory education like other children. Blind, deaf and mentally retarded children are sent to special education schools. In addition, the state has set up over 30 schools especially for orphans. These schools educate children according to their physical and mental abilities and characteristics; some schools even combine compulsory education with vocational education to enhance the students' career opportunities. For seriously disabled children, every welfare home has set up a special education class that teaches self-sufficiency. In 1989, the government established a separate fund for special education. In 1995, the fund totalled 23 million yuan, of which 1.1 million yuan was appropriated to special education classes at welfare homes.
Mass Movements to Help Orphans
The Chinese Government encourages activities to help orphans and has called upon the whole society to show concern for orphans. In recent years, mass movements to help orphans have blossomed.
-- A mass campaign encouraging kindness to orphans is now wide"ispread and volunteers are numerous. In Shanghai and Beijing, campaigns such as ``Let kind-hearted people give orphans a big hug,'' ``Offer your affections to orphans and disabled children and bring health to them,'' ``Help orphans in every way'' and ``Link your hearts to orphans' hearts'' are enthusiastically responded to by people from all walks of life. In these campaigns, many urban families take children from children's welfare institutions and let them stay in their homes during holidays or at ordinary times so that these children can enjoy the warmth and affection of a family.
-- The China Charity Federation was established to promote charities and extensively collect donations. By the end of 1995, the China Charity Federation had recruited 44 local organizations throughout China as group members and it had collected donations of over 100 million yuan. A considerable amount of the money was used to support orphans in vocational trainings and perform corrective surgical operations on disabled children.
-- People from all walks of life show much concern for children's welfare institutions. They donate money and materials to help the institutions improve their conditions. This allows the institutions to improve the quality of their care and education. Welfare funds for orphans have been established in Qingdao, Shandong Province, Cele County in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and other places. In 1994 and 1995 the Shanghai Municipal Welfare Home for Children received 4.4 million yuan in donations. At present, 8,000 orphans throughout China are financially supported in their school education.
-- Individuals are becoming ever more enthusiastic about running children's welfare homes and non-governmental welfare homes are on the increase. In Guangzhou the number of beds in social welfare institutions run by individuals now account for 10 percent of all social welfare institution beds.
China has made great efforts to support the survival, protection and development of children. The UNICEF, UNESCO, WHO and other international organizations and public figures all made positive comments on China's achievements in this connection. Of course, the Chinese Government is sober about the fact that since China is a developing country with a large population and since its economic foundation is still comparatively weak, its per capita income is in a rather rear position in the world per capita income listings and its development level is unbalanced between city and countryside and between different areas, there is much difficulty in the work for children and therefore much room for improvement. Take medical care for children, for example. The incidence of disease among children in the countryside is high and in some poor areas children's nutrition is below the normal level. As for children's education, the teaching conditions in some outlying and poor areas are not up to par and the phenonmenon of primary and middle school children discontinuing their studies still exists. As for the protection of disabled children, the state is not able to amass in a short period enough money to fully satisfy the actual needs in the protection of these children. Since the level of economic development varies from area to area, some welfare homes are better run than others with economic diculties. Therefore, as China develops economically and socially, an important task facing the Chinese Government is to constantly improve children's conditions and promote activities and programs to help children. The Chinese Government will continue to work persistently toward this end, as it has done in the past, and the cause of children will surely develop further as a result.