Viet Nam to ramp up foster care for needy kids

Update: February, 28/2014 - 08:43

About 22,000 children are under institutional care and 170,000 under foster care. About 6,000 Vietnamese children are adopted each year.— Photo baohatinh

HA NOI (VNS) — The Government will soon introduce regulations that encourage more Vietnamese families to provide foster care for disadvantaged children, Deputy Minister of Labour, Invalid and Social Affairs Doan Mau Diep said yesterday.

Addressing a conference focusing on family placement for orphans and other children who are not brought up by their biological parents, Diep said Viet Nam is in the process of completing its legal framework on childcare and protection, and plans to add regulations on provision of foster care.

He said that although the country already has regulations on providing alternative care for disadvantaged children, these were too general and would not motivate people to open their families to caring for them.

Viet Nam has about 23 million children, accounting for 27 per cent of its population. Of these, 1.4 million are said to fall under the disadvantaged category.

Typically, such children are cared for by social welfare centres, adopted or placed with families – relatives or others – to receive foster care, with both the children and the care providers eligible to receive Government support.

The conference heard that about 400,000 disadvantaged children are eligible to get the Government's support, ranging from VND270,000 to VND810,000 (US$12.8-38.5) per month, plus other assistance like healthcare, education and vocational training.

About 22,000 children are under institutional care and 170,000 under foster care. About 6,000 Vietnamese children are adopted each year.

Le Hong Loan, head of the Child Protection Section with the United Nations Children's Fund in Viet Nam (UNICEF), said the country needs to develop more effective monitoring and supervising systems for alternative care delivery so as to ensure the safety and well being of the disadvantaged children.

"Clear regulations are needed for assessing, selecting and granting permission to those who foster children," she said, also urging inter-sector co-operation to meet the children's needs, including residential registration, schooling and healthcare.

One of the foreign dignitaries present at the conference, Prince Michael of Kent, cousin to the Queen of England, said it was not easy to find an alternative family to provide safe and long-term care for children.

Foster children or adopted children need strong care and support from authorities, he said.

"Successfully nurturing a child into adulthood is one of the most important functions of family life and one of the foundation blocks of any good society, anywhere in the world," he added.

He said that family placement care should receive attention as the first positive alternative for orphaned and abandoned children and preferred over institutional care at orphanages or other social welfare centres.

The two-day conference was organised by MOLISA, UNICEF and the Care for Children – a British charity that partners with governments in Asia "to help them place orphans into good local families." — VNS