Boost in funding to help social work institutions
Li Ka Shing Foundation contributes 20 million yuan to joint projects
The Ministry of Civil Affairs and the Li Ka Shing Foundation have announced they will subsidize 100 social work institutions in 100 communities from February 2014 to December 2015.
The Li Ka Shing Foundation has given 20 million yuan ($3.3 million) to the project, which will be brought to communities mainly in Zhejiang, Shandong and Anhui provinces and Chongqing municipality.
Each social work institution will get 100,000 to 200,000 yuan in subsidies to provide professional social work services for 200,000 people.
The poor, the elderly, the disabled, migrant workers, left-behind children and other vulnerable groups will receive services.
“We aim to improve the living conditions of the vulnerable, cultivate professional social workers and strengthen the organization of social services through the program,” said Meng Zhiqiang, deputy director of the social work department at the ministry.
Meng added there are about 400,000 professional social workers nationwide, of which 123,800 have professional certification, and there are more than 2,400 private social service organizations.
“Furthermore, we promote setting up a standardized system for professional social work services,” said Meng.
Social services should meet the needs of the communities, Meng added. Services include psychological counseling, healthcare, rehabilitation services, employment assistance, legal aid, rights protection, skills training and so on.
Institutions interested in applying for the subsidy should be registered under the ministry, have been promised funds from local civil affairs department or other social organizations and should have a social work team, of which no less than 30 percent are certified.
It is estimated that about 200,000 people in need would benefit from the service.
“As for the training and cultivation of professional talents, we set up an education and service web portal to provide online training,” Meng added.
In the 12th five-year plan for civil affairs development, the government has promoted the funding of social service organizations.
Minister of Civil Affairs Li Liguo said at the national civil affairs conference in December that the government has vigorously supported private social service organizations and formulated policies for cultivating professional social work talent.
Shi Yanxia, director of the grassroots nonprofit organization Rights into Action for Youth with Disabilities, said “We lack professional social workers and a training system”, adding the online training course may help solve that problem.
Shi hoped there will be more government support for social service organizations in the future, which could improve the quality of service for vulnerable groups and alleviate pressure caused by a shortage of funds.
Li Tao, the chief director of the Beijing social work organization Facilitator, a nonprofit group providing social services for migrant workers, told China Daily they support the project because it provides a new channel for private social service organizations to gain more resources.
“Social services organizations are still cultivating and developing, so we hope the government will offer more funding and resources for our development,” Li said, adding that his organization should receive more respect from supporters when it receives the government subsidy.
Zhang Zhanjun, 52, a migrant worker from Zhangjiakou, Hebei province, has lived in Beijing for more than 20 years and said social service organizations have helped him a lot.
“For instance, the social workers helped me ask employers for salaries and book train tickets during the holidays. They also provided us with legal assistance.”
When he faced some personal problems, they also provided counseling.
“I want to participate in more social activities and better integrate myself into city life.”
Social workers and volunteers hold a birthday party for 10 children at an orphanage in Shanghai on Jan 17. Later that day, they helped the orphanage prepare for Spring Festival celebrations.