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Care for Carer|Support to Child Carer under Pandemic

The Child Carers Working Group of Care for Carer (the Working Group) expresses concerns over the government's latest territory-wide suspension of face-to-face classes for kindergarten and junior primary students in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic and outbreak of upper respiratory tract infections.

 

While we understand that suspension of face-to-face classes would reduce social contacts in a bid to safeguard children's health, we also urge the government to carefully consider the difficult circumstances surrounding child carers and to ensure adequate support are provided to them, especially grassroots working carers and single-parent carers.

 

With face-to-face classes suspended, schools have to switch once again to online teaching. However, e-learning equipment is still inadequate for grassroots children, especially kindergarten students, who fall outside the service scope of most existing e-learning support programmes. These worries are proven in a recent survey, in which over 60% of grassroots parents feel guilty for not being able to afford sufficient equipment to facilitate their children's e-learning.  In this connection, the Working Group recommends subsidizing grassroots families for their acquisition of items necessary for e-learning such as internet service SIM cards, Wifi eggs, and computers. As regards the closure of libraries and other public facilities, which limited access by grass-root children and carers to public learning resources, we recommend posting parent-child picture books to address their reading needs.

 

Amidst the pandemic, going out has become all the more difficult for carers.  Visiting crowded places like markets with a toddler would entail increased health risk, thus usual routines such as buying food and daily supplies is now a new source of pressure to carers, in addition to the already stressful all-day housework and caring.  To alleviate their burden, the Working Group recommends exploring cross-sector co-operation regarding cooked food order and delivery services, whereby commercial online platforms for daily goods and food delivery would provide a certain quota of discounts via charitable organisations for grass-root families in need to receive food and daily supplies by their delivery services.

 

Furthermore, the community should not overlook the importance of physical and mental support to child carers. When a wide range of social services are suspended due to the pandemic, carers lost an important helping hand and shouldered heavier burdens. The government should deploy additional resources to enhance both physical and psychological support services for carers, for example, to develop on-line services that can continue to support carers during epidemic so that carers know that their needs are acknowledged.  At the same time, families should be more accommodating to carers’ difficulties and feelings under the epidemic.  They should render emotional support as well as actual assistance, such as taking turns in providing care to relief each other’s burden, helping to buy daily necessities, and showing recognition to the carers’ contribution and encouraging them to address their emotional needs.  Wherever necessary, carers and family should not hesitate to take an extra step in seeking assistance from schools and social welfare organisations which are still in service for urgent support.

 

 

The government’s emergency support service should serve as a safety net in the epidemic.  Emergency and essential services must remain in operation, particularly the social security branches, in order to process urgent reliefs for families in dire economic needs, to provide domestic violence victims with interim accommodation such as subsidy for short-term hotel leases, to set up an Emergency Relief Fund for Families in Crises under the Anti-Epidemic Fund, and to support the needs of unpaid workers and carers in addition to those of businesses and employees.

Media Enquiry

Mr Alvin Chung

Senior Development Officer

alvin.chung@womencentre.org.hk
(852) 2748 8105