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International Women's Day 2019 - Child Carers' Support

Since 2011, the HKWFC has launched different women campaigns on the International Women's Day to voice our demands and fight for gender equality to society and the government. This year, we have organized a "childcarer" event with over 100 women and children on the East Wing Forecourt of the Central Government Office. During the event, we released the "childcarers and mental health" survey result and "stress thermometer". We hope to raise concerns over the plight of childcarers, urge the government to address their needs, improve their support measures, and increase the quota for childcare services.


From Nov 2018 to Jan 2019, the HKFWC has conducted a survey on childcarers and mental health and interviewed childcarers with kids under 12. The questionnaire is divided into two sections. The first part draws reference from the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CESD) to understand the mental wellness of childcarers. The second part focuses on their caring status. Among the 443 questionnaires, almost 60% of childcarers score over 16, which means that they are plagued by depression symptoms, 70% of which are more serious cases (over 22), showing that the respondents may suffer from depression. The major sources of stress are children (70%), finance (53%), and health (39%).


The survey has also found that 76% of the respondents claiming themselves as the major childcarers. However, only 2% have used childcare services (childcare services exclude kindergarten and primary schools). The reasons for not using childcare services are not enough quota (25%), not finding relevant services (23%), and long wait times (18%). All of these reasons point to the lack of childcare services. 70% of the respondents agree that childcare services can relieve stress and 85% agree that quality and affordable childcare services can help improve their caring status, showing that childcarers have their demand for childcare services. 57% of the respondents are housewives while 32% are full-time or part-time workers.


There has always been a shortage in the community childcare services. The government has said they would increase the quota of childcare services in many policy addresses and budget plans to release women's labour force, and has entrusted the University of Hong Kong to conduct the "Consultancy Study on the Long-term Development of Childcare Services". It is predicted that by 2021 Hong Kong will need 82 independent childcare centres to offer full-day services to kids aged 0-2 to fulfil the community needs. But now there are only 12 subsidized childcare centres, providing only 747 quotas, which are way less than the amount needed in the study. However, the HKFWC has not yet seen the government suggest a viable solution and timeframe. Increasing childcare service quotas, which was repeated in the budget plans in recent years, has become a lip-service.


In fact, the shortage of childcare service quotas is not a new problem. The "Consultancy Study on the Long-term Development of Childcare Services", which lasted for two years, has clearly shown the supply of services is far from enough to meet the community needs. The government should immediately allocate more resources, such as using vacant school premises and government lands to build more childcare facilities, or even, as suggested in the 2018 Policy Address, including the terms of supplying breastfeeding rooms and babysitting rooms as well as other childcare facilities in the conditions of land sales to help the government meet the short-term and mid-term childcare quota targets.


The government should also improve its other childcare schemes, such as mutual help childcare centres and the Neighbourhood Support childcare Project, so that they can better address the needs of society, including providing standardized training to nannies in the community and increasing the permanent subsidies of mutual help childcare centres.


Furthermore, the government should provide professional training to nannies, set up a directory to acknowledge the qualification of carers and provide pertinent and flexible childcare service and childcare vouchers to family carers. This can not only create job opportunities for women but ease their dual burdens of family and employment.


In light of the tremendous pressure of childcarers, with the end of the "Consultancy Study on the Long-term Development of Childcare Services", it is now high time for the government improved its childcare service. We have the following short, mid, and long-term suggestions pertaining to childcare service:

  • Propose viable improvement measures and set up a clear timeframe with various stakeholders
  • Include breastfeeding rooms and babysitting rooms and provision of childcare facilities in the conditions of land sales
  • Promote the professionalization of nannies and provide more standardized training to them
  • Set up a nanny directory to acknowledge their qualifications
  • Provide pertinent and flexible childcare services and childcare vouchers to family carers
  • Offer nannies salaries that are higher than the minimum wage
  • Increase subsidies to organizations that run mutual help childcare centres to subsidize their constant spending and increase their staff ratio.

Media Enquiry

Ms Si-si Liu

(852) 2153 3153

Mr Alvin Chung

Senior Development Officer|Development
(852) 2153 3153