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Increase in Foster Care Necessary

Let more orphans enter our families and give them real homes to help them grow up, urged participants at a national conference on orphan care Wednesday in Beijing.

Orphans who are brought up by families will find it easier to enter real social life and will have an easier time healing from mental distress, said Peng Min, a Beijing pediatrician.

"A real family can provide more for the mental development of orphans than orphanages do," Peng said.

The Ministry of Civil Affairs issued a regulation Wednesday to better supervise orphan care and encourage families to take foster children into their own homes.

The Management Measures on Family Foster Children, effective on January 1, 2004, will provide standards and a legal basis for placing foster children with families, said Civil Affairs Vice Minister Li Baoku Wednesday.

Orphans and disabled children who were abandoned by their families and are less than 18 years old can be raised by families which have stable incomes and adults aged between 30 and 65, the regulation says.

Local civil affairs departments, the legal guardians of orphans in China, will provide money for host families to cover expenses of living, education and medical care costs for orphans, the regulation says.

Host families need to sign contracts with local civil affairs departments on taking care of orphans. The foster placements can be either long- or short-term, according to the contract.

Thanks to the fast improvement of people's lives, more and more people pay attention to social welfare and want to provide a helping hand to the needy, especially orphans, Li said.

The country had 178 state-invested orphanages at the end of 2002, which took care of more than 54,000 orphans, most of whom were disabled, ministry statistics show.

Non-government organizations and some overseas charity organizations such as the UK-based Save the Children have also provided aid to help take better care of the orphans through cooperation projects and direct investment, Li said.

(China Daily October 30, 2003)

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