State Council's inter-agency task force briefing on ensuring services and supplies to people who stay put during the Spring Festival holiday

The State Council's inter-agency task force held a press conference in Beijing on Wednesday to brief the media about the circular on how to ensure services and supplies to people who stay put during the Spring Festival holiday. January 28, 2021

Southern Metropolis Daily:

People are encouraged to stay in cities where they work during the upcoming Spring Festival. However, in this way, some empty nesters and left-behind children probably cannot reunite with their family. For those elderly and children, are there any measures in place which will make the epidemic prevention and control both effective and more thoughtful? Thank you.

Guo Yuqiang:

Thank you for your concern for the elderly and children left behind. The CPC Central Committee and the State Council have always attached great importance to the care for the elderly, children and other special groups. In this regard, authorities have rolled out a set of measures to ensure the livelihood of those in need, as well as services and supplies for those who stay where they work during the holiday. All these measures have made clear that targeted support for the elderly and children left behind must be provided. 

In order to ensure that these disadvantaged groups have a safe, comfortable, and peaceful Spring Festival, civil affairs departments at all levels are operating under the unified command of the local Party committees and governments to take a series of measures and actions:

First, we will conduct thorough checks. Local authorities should carry out further checks on empty-nest elderly and left-behind children before the Spring Festival. Based on existing data, we will further investigate the family and migrant labor status within these two groups.

Second, we will strengthen the guidance work for providing assistance specifically designed to suit different groups. There are four aspects of the work that we have conducted. First, we have guided village (neighborhood) committees to increase regular visits to empty-nest elderly and left-behind children. Particularly, village (neighborhood) committee officials, directors and supervisors in charge of child-related works should take advantage of their experiences from front-line work and familiarity with their designated areas to find out residents' needs and provide necessary assistance. Second, we have implemented assistance and guarantee measures and provided various services which include daily care for elderly people with difficulties due to the epidemic. We have also required local authorities to optimize and simplify confirmation, review, and approval procedures for de facto unattended children, orphans, and other children in difficult situations during the epidemic prevention and control period. For those who meet these conditions, we have required that the related departments make an application, receive approval, and provide a living allowance within one month. Third, we have enhanced guidance relating to family guardianship. It is required that migrant workers have to assign a qualified caregiver to take care of their left-behind children. If it is difficult to assign someone due to practical difficulties, it should be reported to the village (neighborhood) committee. The village (neighborhood) committee should then assign qualified caregivers to the left-behind children and make sure that they are properly taken care of. Fourth, we encourage migrant workers to stay where they live and work during the holiday and encourage them to make regular phone calls and video calls to their elderly relatives and children left at home.

Third, we should conduct epidemic prevention and control work properly. We have provided instructions to local authorities to further involve empty-nest elderly and left-behind children in the unified deployment of local joint prevention and control mechanisms. Village (neighborhood) directors of child-related works should adopt suitable methods for left-behind children in order to strengthen their education on epidemic prevention and control. At the same time, under the local epidemic prevention and control requirements, directors should also provide psychological counseling services and conduct care activities.

Fourth, we should provide aid to and protection for children without guardianship due to emergencies. On Jan. 13, the Ministry of Civil Affairs, together with nine government departments, including the National Development and Reform Commission, the NHC, jointly issued documents, requiring that the village (neighborhood) committee or organizations for minor protection should be coordinated to take on temporary care duties and provide care services for those children whose parents and other guardians or entrusted caregivers cannot fully perform their responsibilities in raising and guarding them due to an emergency, such as treatment due to confirmed infection, need for centralized medical observation, or otherwise affected by the needs of epidemic prevention and control work. That's all. Thank you.

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