Couples who lose a child to receive higher subsidies
Parents who have lost their only child will get more compensation and enjoy favorable policies in access to rest homes and housing, according to an announcement by the National Health and Family Planning Commission on Thursday.
The announcement said that in 2014, the standard subsidy will increase to 340 yuan ($56) per person per month for urban couples who lost their only child but haven’t adopted or given birth to another.
The notice, issued by the commission and other ministries including the Ministry of Civil Affairs and the Ministry of Finance, added that the wife should be aged 49 or above.
The subsidy will increase to 170 yuan per month per person for such couples in rural areas.
The ministries asked local governments across the country to “establish a mechanism for dynamic increase” of the subsidy.
Since 2008, a nationwide subsidy program has been carried out to help couples who have lost a child, according to Wang Haidong, director of the commission’s department of family planning and family development.
Previously, the subsidy was 100 yuan per person per month for such couples. It increased to 135 yuan in 2012, Wang said.
Li Zhongkui, a 63-year-old Beijing resident who lost his only son in 2004, said he welcomed the policy. An increase in the subsidy over time is necessary, given increasing commodity prices, Li said.
He said he and his wife each get 720 yuan of subsidy a month, but “the subsidy alone is not enough to cover one’s daily life”.
“It’s important to increase the subsidy for those low-income families,” he said.
The ministries also asked provincial governments to give priority to such couples who are 60 or above, especially those who are not able to take care of themselves, to enter government-funded rest homes.
In addition, families who lost their only child and are financially challenged should get priority access to public housing, according to the announcement.
In 2012, the China Population and Development Research Center surveyed families in 15 provincial-level governments who lost their only child or whose only child was disabled.
Of the subjects, “80 percent were concerned about the care they will get when they get old”, said Wang Haidong, with the commission. The measures will deal with the issues families face in a practical way, Wang said.
Zhang Xingxian, a 65-yearold woman in Zhenjiang, Jiangsu province, who lost her 27-year-old daughter in 2007, said the announcement is a step forward in helping families who lost their only child, but she’s concerned whether the measures will be well implemented.
“Our biggest worry is the time when we cannot move by ourselves,” she said. “We cannot afford and don’t trust a nurse in our house. Rest homes don’t take us in because we don’t have our children or our caretakers to sign the paper.”
Hu Dehua, 67, weeps after flipping through photos of her son, who died of an illness in June 2011. Her husband sits nearby.