Scandal-hit children’s home gets renewed government funding, despite string of staff convictions for abuse of youngsters in its care

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A scandal-hit Hong Kong child care centre where 34 staff have been charged with abuse has been given government subsidies for another year after it underwent a 12-month monitoring period.

The Social Welfare Department on Monday confirmed it had extended a funding and service agreement for Mong Kok’s Children’s Residential Home, run by the Hong Kong Society for the Protection of Children, for a year and would “continue to monitor the service performance of the organisation”.

The department added that the home would have to submit a progress report to the department every six months so its service quality could be monitored.

But it said the home continued to be barred from putting in bids for the operation of new subsidised services.

Scandal-hit children’s home gets renewed government funding, despite string of staff convictions for abuse of youngsters in its care - Informative Updates™
The Hong Kong Society for the Protection of Children has retained its government funding, despite a child abuse scandal, although authorities insisted it would continue to be monitored. Photo: Edmond So

“The Social Welfare Department set a 12-month monitoring period for the Children’s Residential Home in September 2022, converting its original unlimited funding and service agreement into a one-year time-limited one,” a spokesman said.

“Relevant clauses were added to require the organisation to implement improvement measures. During this period, the Social Welfare Department closely monitored whether the organisation complied with the agreement’s requirements.”

It is unclear how much was given to the service this year, but preliminary statistics from the department show the society was given HK$103 million (US$13 million) in 2023-24, down HK$40 million on the figure for 2022-23.

A string of child abuse cases at the home were exposed two years ago. The year-long monitoring period was ordered last September.

The department’s statistics showed that 34 staff members at the home have been arrested and charged. A total of 18 have been through the courts and sentenced.

Hong Kong childcare worker sentenced to 27 months in jail for assaulting 10 kids

The Social Welfare Department has also removed 10 staff at the home from the child care register.

The home’s website says it is the city’s only 24-hour residential care centre dedicated to infants and toddlers under the age of three, with registered childcare workers, nurses and social workers giving around-the-clock care.

But the service became mired in abuse allegations in 2022, with some of the cases involving senior carers.

A part-time staff member at the home, with 40-years of experience working with children, was jailed for 2½ years after she admitted wilful child assault on 11 children in the charity’s care.

It was the toughest penalty handed down so far in connection with the abuse scandal.

Ex-carer at children’s home jailed for 2½ years for attacks on toddlers

Childcare worker, Fung Fung-ho, 64, admitted slapping children on the head and face, throwing objects at them and picking them up and throwing them to the floor.

The offences were committed between November and December 2021. The court heard one of her victims was attacked several times in the space of 10 minutes.

District Court judge Edmond Lee Chun-man said Fung’s behaviour not only caused the children fear and alarm, but also led one to imitate her attack on a baby boy by swinging a plastic rod at him.

The Hong Kong Society for the Protection of Children has been contacted for comment.

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