Social welfare department of Hong Kong: family and child protective services
|Topics:||Social Work, Parenting, Socialization, ⏳ Social Issues, 🏳️ Government, 🚸 Public Policy|
For a long time, research has proved that economic development in various parts of the world is influenced by the nature of social welfare among the population. In reality, many developed nations have organized and efficient systems that monitor and provide social support to their citizens. It is for this reason that many administrative units sought to establish functional social welfare departments. Just like many other nations, Hong Kong has also followed the suit in order to improve the well-being of its citizens. However, despite this effort, the Family and Child Protective Services of Hong Kong face some challenges that make it hard for the department to achieve its key objectives. In this regard, the following discussion devolves into the core problems faced by the departments and provides insights on its future development.
In order to understand the arguments presented in this discussion, it is important that we first describe social welfare department. Challenging economic trends have undoubtedly contributed to social distress in many families. Consequently, many people experience low quality of living since they are unable or find it challenging to afford basic services and commodities. Although this is not the will of many people, government authorities, in addition to some voluntary organizations, have resorted into offering services that help to alleviate the social challenges. Social welfare survives target specific social groups, such as the poor, sick people, unemployed people, aged people, children and women, which experience specific types of social challenges. In this case, social welfare department can be described as a specific administrative arm that is concerned in alleviating social challenges/distress in specific target social groups. It can thus be clearly stated that social welfare departments are concerned with the quality of living among populations as opposed to the standards of living (Blau & Abramovitz, 2010).
Social welfare departments play critical roles that promote social well-being of the beneficiaries by providing various forms of benefits. In particular, they offer a wide range of services, which are categorized based on the target groups of interest/ social necessity, and so are the benefits associated with the services. For instance, some of the common types of benefits include cash assistance programs such as TANF, old AFDC, medical assistance programs such as Medicaid, food support programs such as SNAP, education support programs such as TRIO, and child/community support programs such as the Appalachian Regional Development program. As evidenced above, the programs are categorized based on the social needs addressed in the society.
Family and Child Protective Services form part of the social welfare programs that operate under the Social Welfare Department of Hong Kong. According to the Hong Kong Government (2011), Family and Child Protective Services form an integral part of the social welfare programs aimed at alleviating social challenges associated with child abuse and spouse abuse within the jurisdiction. As such, the services are provided to the target population in line with the vision and mission of the social welfare department. Therefore, the services are mainly aimed at preserving and strengthening the family units, thereby promoting healthy relationships in the society.
Understanding the service objectives and scope is invaluable to pointing out the challenges within the Family and Child Protective Services in Hong Kong. In terms of objectives, the Family and Child Protective Services aim at preventing the occurrence of child abuse and spouse battering, help the affected parties to overcome the aforementioned issues, and ultimately coordinate the restoration of restore functioning family units between the victims, perpetrators and other family members (Hong Kong Government, 2011). In the same note Family and Child Protective Services aim at safeguarding the interest of children under guardianship or custody through provision of investigative and counseling services (Hong Kong Government, 2011).
Of more significance, the Family and Child Protective Services have a wider scope that caters for a significant portion of the target population. One of their services entails public enquiries, where the department undertakes investigations on matters relating to child abuse, spouse battering and custody/guardianship matters. By carrying out a public inquiry, the department is able to collect report on details that contribute to informed decision making and also makes appropriate recommendations towards court proceedings. The department also provides outreach services, which are aimed at crisis intervention among the victims. Further, the service department also carries out casework services, such as follow-up services, statutory supervision and counseling. Other services rendered include group work services and public awareness (Hong Kong Government, 2011).
Core problems faced by the Family and Child Protective Services in Hong Kong
Just like any other service department, the Honk Kong Family and Child Protective Services encounters various problems that have significantly hampered the achievement of social welfare objectives;
- Natural disasters – although it may not be directly attributed to the challenges within the social welfare department, it is undeniable that natural disasters cause pain and affect the quality of life among families and children. According to Coconuts Hong Kong (2015), the city of Hong Kong is considered to be the third most prone to natural disasters in the world. This means that Honk Kong residents’ encounters disasters from time to time, hence have no control to their quality of life. Even though the Family and Child Protective Services try to intervene and make the situation better, they have no control over the natural phenomenon and certainly have to put up with the associated family and child disturbances.
- Increasing caseloads- the complexity of social problems has undoubtedly increased in the recent past. As such, it has become a little challenging for the Family and Child Protective Services to cater for the ever increasing social/family problems. The increase in caseload can be attributed to some factors such as economic problems, technological development and a multiplex of personality challenges.
- Policy and legal support- although the government has done a considerable effort in establishing policies that promote social welfare among people, more is needed to ensure effective implementation and establishment of specific laws that alleviate some of the challenges. For instance, there is a significant media regulation, which partly plays a role in limiting the level of awareness in the population.
- Changes in family systems and structures – shifting economic and social conditions have over time lead to changes in the family structures and perceptions held by people with regard to family values. In reality, Honk Kong is among the many areas that have witnessed changes in family values as it can be shown by various indicators including marital status, divorce rates and orphans. According to the Census and Statistics Department of Hong Kong (2015), in the last two decades, the numbers of unmarried individuals (both sexes) have increased significantly, and so were the standardized proportion of divorced/separated persons 3.2% and 5.5% for men and women respectively. This is an indication of changes in family values and systems over time.
Insights on Future Development
In order to overcome the above challenges, the following strategies can be implemented to assist with the future development of the Hong Kong’s Family and Child Protective Services.
- Formation of partnerships- although Honk Kong Family and Child Protective Services has been able to deliver a wider scope of services, it is trough partnerships that it can be able to overcome the challenge of increasing caseloads. Partnerships with families, friends, churches, and community organizations can help to sensitize the target population on the needs to protect the family unit and interests of children. As such, the partnership can serve as a preventive approach that helps to reduce the rates of incidences.
- The Hong Kong government should consult with the Family and Child Protective Services in order to develop policies that help to reduce any form of barriers to service delivery. For instance, reduction on media regulation through support of media platforms that promote awareness on the program objectives and scope. More importantly, the platforms can also be used to address the effects of changing family systems by promoting positive family values.
- General awareness on disaster response- By collaborating with disaster response and warning departments, the Family and Child Protective Services can incorporate trainings that inform people on the importance of earlier response to disaster warnings and the most effective approaches of averting negative effects associated with disasters.
In conclusion, the Family and Child Protective Services of Honk Kong play an important role in alleviating social challenges among families and children. The department has a wider scope of services that cater for the diverse needs of the target population. However, there are several challenges that hinder its efficiency. As such, the above discussion has provided several strategies that can be used to overcome the said challenges.
- Blau, J., & Abramovitz, M. (2010). The dynamics of social welfare policy. New York: Oxford University Press.
- Census and Statistics Department of Hong Kong. (2015). Hong Kong Monthly Digest of Statistics. Retrieved from http://www.statistics.gov.hk/pub/B71501FA2015XXXXB0100.pdf
- Coconuts Hong Kong. (2015). Study: Hong Kong is city most at risk of natural disaster in Asia. Retrieved from http://hongkong.coconuts.co/2015/05/26/study-hong-kong-city-most-risk-natural-disaster-asia
- Hong Kong Government. (2016). Family and Child Protective Services. Retrieved from http://www.swd.gov.hk/en/index/site_pubsvc/page_family/sub_listofserv/id_familyandc/