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Tougher demands for foster parents take effect on Dec 1st

The new foster care regulation takes effect on Dec 1. CCTV reporter Hu Chao looks at what these changes will entail and speaks to one foster family and a local orphanage, to see how the new rules will affect them.

Kang Guoying and her husband brought the two kids home from the local orphanage about ten years ago. Both have inheritable disabilities. Kang Guoying has been at home taking care of them full-time. They live in a village near Taiyuan, capital of North China’s Shanxi province.

The local orphanage provides about 800 yuan ($130.24) every month for each kid as subsidy to the family. According to the new regulations, when the foster kids turn 18, they can decide to go on living in the foster home or go back to the orphanage.

“If they leave one day, it will be extremely painful for me. But no matter how hard it is, I will try my best to take care of them and give them love,” Kang Guoying said.

“I can’t leave my mother. She’s been through a lot to raise us,” Foster child Dang Hua said.

Kang Guoying’s family is among many other foster families in the region. The local orphanage says over 300 of their kids have been living in foster families in nearby villages.

On Dec 1st, the new regulations of family foster care will take formal effect, which means more orphans can enjoy family foster care, but families will need to meet more requirements to get listed.

The new regulations say that street children and juvenile beggars can also enjoy family foster care if the local police can’t find their birth parents or any other guardians. Besides, foster parents can only take on two kids. Their total family income should be at least medium-level. And they should at least have received junior middle school education.

“Most of the present foster families enjoy a medium-level income in the village. But if compared with the income in the urban areas, it’s lower than the medium level. So the income requirement needs to be further specified,” Zhang Yimin, director of Taiyuan Social & Children Welfare Institute, said.

Director Zhang says almost all the orphans have congenital disabilities. Taking care of them is more expensive. More families in rural areas prefer to foster orphans because the cost of living there is much lower than in urban areas. More financial subsidies are needed to promote family foster care in cities.

“Living standards are rising and prices are rising. Now the biggest issue is the shortage of subsidies. A foster kid can get about 1,000 yuan a month. We’re short about 2 to 3 million yuan for the kids’ medical treatments every year. It’s still very hard for us to promote family foster care in urban areas,” Zhang said.

Director Zhang also points out more detail is needed to fully implement the new regulations.

The formal application of the Family Foster Care Regulations has taken over a decade. Experts say these new regulations are crucial for the orphanages in China, as family foster care is still the best way to give orphans true family love. However, it still remains a challenge to encourage more families to foster orphans.