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Reprieve for child shelter

Update: July, 01/2015 - 09:01

Needy children and orphans at the Hanh Phuc House in Binh Chanh District of HCM City.— Photo

HCM CITY (VNS) — The central Social Welfare Department has instructed labour authorities in a HCM City district to help a children's shelter that faces closure get a licence.

Hanh Phuc House in Binh Chanh District's Binh Hung Ward is home to 32 needy children and orphans aged seven to 23, but the ward People's Committee wants it to close.

Local officials discovered in 2013 that Nguyen Van Hoang and Ngo Thi Kim Van, the couple who run it, did not have a licence and gave them a deadline to close. The deadline has been extended several times, but the department stepped in this week and told the duo to get a licence.

The department's inspectors were told on Monday by the deputy head of the district's labour division, Phan Thi Tuyet Mai, that the centre is only 100sq.m in size while a government decree stipulates a minimum area of 30sq.m per child. The centre should therefore look for another larger place to get a licence, she said.

The building is in a neighbourhood that has been handed over to a property company developing Hanh Phuc Urban project.

Van said she needed more time to find a larger place on cheap land.

"It is difficult because with the compensation from Hanh Phuc I can buy just one piece measuring a maximum of 200sq.m while under the decree I need a minimum of 500sq.m."

Pham Dai Dong, head of the department's policy division, agreed that the couple should upgrade the house because the needy children and orphans need a good facility to ensure their development. To Duc, the department's deputy head, told Dan Tri online newspaper that it was important to safeguard the children's rights. She added that city Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs should work with the district People's Committee to find a solution.

But if one could not be found, the centre should make a list of inmates whose relatives could not care for them and these children would be sent to social welfare centres run by the city or in their home provinces.

In the meantime, the city labour department should arrange counselling for the children to assure them not to be afraid of change, Duc added.

The city has 53 private social welfare centres, but only 32 have licences. In 2013 city labour officials told unlicensed ones how to get a licence.

They recommended the city People's Committee should close down those without adequate facilities.

Three centres in Districts 9, Cu Chi and Binh Chanh were then shut down. — VNS

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