Pilot scheme to fund neighbouring nannies

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 March, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 March, 2008, 12:00am

Needy parents who hire neighbours to take care of their children will be subsidised from the middle of this year in a pilot programme, the labour and welfare minister said yesterday.

Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said the government would subsidise needy parents with financial difficulties who hire 'neighbourhood nannies' to take care of their children aged six or younger.

The pilot scheme would be launched in Tin Shui Wai, Tung Chung, Sham Shui Po and Kwai Tsing later this year, he said, adding that the Labour and Welfare Bureau was also considering extending it to North District and Tuen Mun.

'It will be more flexible for nannies to take care of other families' children in their own homes. There will be fewer time restrictions,' Mr Cheung said.

In the budget speech last week, Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah said the government would spend HK$45 million over the next three years to strengthen child-care services.

Mr Cheung said local groups and NGOs would be subsidised to look for women who were available and suitable to be 'neighbourhood nannies' and provide them with training. These nannies could either be volunteers or paid workers, he said.

Meanwhile, needy parents could contact them if they needed a nanny living nearby, he said.

'If some parents cannot afford to pay the nannies, we will give them subsidies,' said Mr Cheung, adding that the amount would depend on the family's financial situation.

Yuen Long district councillor Yiu Kwok-wai, mainly serving Tin Shui Wai residents, welcomed the government's initiative.

'The new scheme will create a win-win situation. Some women can get a job if they help take care of their neighbours' children as nannies. Those who want to go out to work can leave their children to nannies nearby,' he said.

A Tin Shui Wai resident surnamed Lam, a 37-year-old unemployed mother of two young children, also welcomed the scheme. 'I will have no worries about taking up a job then.'