Families willing to adopt babies or young children are “desperately” needed, according to the District Social Welfare Officer. Micy Lui Siu-ying said 72 children are available for adoption, including 32 children aged between 9 and 18. These children have been abandoned in Hong Kong or handed over to the Social Welfare Department because the parent or parents could not, or would not, look after them. People willing to foster babies or kids are sorely needed, too.
Micy (pronounced Mycie) is the official in charge of 400 social welfare officers and staff in the district covering Sai Kung (SK), Clearwater Bay (CWB), Tseung Kwan O (TKO) and Wong Tai Sin (WTS). She gave SAI KUNG BUZZ an interview. Babies and little kids in the care of the Social Welfare Department and up for adoption are kept in foster homes, small group homes or institutions run by NGOs subvented by the department. “They are looked after in a home-like environment,” Micy said. Families interested in adopting or fostering kids may contact the department’s Adoption Unit or the Central Foster Care Unit. In 2017, the department has successfully adopted out 77 babies and children.
Other subjects covered in the interview:
Elderly: People over 65 in our district (SK, CWB and TKO) number about 70,000 and as at end of March 2018, approximately half of them received the non-means tested Old Age Allowances at the rate of $1345 a month for applicants aged 70 or above and the means tested Old Age Living Allowances at the rate of $2600 a month for applicants aged 65 or above. The Higher Old Age Living Allowance was implemented from 1 June 2018 to provide a monthly allowance of $3485 available to eligible elderly persons.
Street sleepers: Micy said the department keeps a Street Sleepers Registry. As at end of March 2018, the number of registered street sleepers was 1,127. At present, there are zero people on it in SK and TKO area. A member of the public recently reported a case of a street sleeper near Hang Hau MTR. Social workers were unable to locate him, despite several attempts. On the awfully sad case of the street scavenger who died alone in the basement of an abandoned house on Clearwater Bay Road, Micy said her department was unaware of his plight before his death was revealed. She admitted, “We fail to reach some of the needy.” The department tries to combat this by strengthening networks with community organisations, village representatives, kai fongs and so on to identify the needy.
“Cardboard grannies”: Street scavengers who collect cardboard and other recyclables are sometimes not in financial distress at all. They are fiercely independent. “We may not be able to talk to every one of them” but will provide assistance when needs are identified.
Micy said they can apply for comprehensive social security assistance (CSSA) at varying rates. At the end of March about 7100 households in our district were collecting it.
Special Education Needs (SEN) children: The department has a waiting list of 650 kids with special needs living in SK District for pre-school rehabilitation services as at end of March 2018. While there are 385 places in SK, parents or guardians with children being waitlisted for subvented pre-school rehabilitation services can apply for a grant of up to $6075 a month to help pay for services from recognised providers. In addition, the Pilot Scheme on On-site Pre-school Rehabilitation Services, launched in 2015, will be regularised from the 2018/19 school year with an increase of the number of places from about 3,000 to 7,000 in two years to provide early intervention for these children.
Mentally ill: With the Department of Health and the Hospital Authority, the SWD provides support services for mentally ill people in the territory. The SWD and subvented NGOs focus on social and rehabilitation services. While psychiatric social workers provide assistance for mental patients and families such as counselling, housing and financial support, the Integrated Community Centre for Mentally Ill (ICCMW) provides one-stop mental health support for them. In 2018-19, additional resources to create new clinical psychologist posts will be provided to strengthen the professional support of the ICCMWs.
Youth with problems and Young Night Drifters”: Micy said, “We are attempting to provide early intervention and support to youth at risk.” There are three youth out-reaching teams serving young people who are vulnerable to undesirable influences (including the young night drifters) in the area, one from the YWCA and two from the Federation of Youth Groups. Micy said the number of youngsters hanging around in the street appears to be declining, possibly because more young people are staying at home playing social media or video games.
The SWD district office for the Wong Tai Sin and Sai Kung Districts is at 138 Lung Cheung Road, Wong Tai Sin. Among the 14 services units with about 400 staff directly led by Micy and more than 200 subvented NGO units monitored by Micy and her team, there are one Standardised Care Need Assessment Management Office (Elderly Services), one family and child protective services unit, four integrated family service centres, two social security field units (providing CSSA and other social security allowances), two ICCMWs, one medical social service unit at Tseung Kwan O hospital plus nearly 100 subvented NGOs providing social welfare services in the district.