The welfare chief has said he will not grant Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) to Hong Kong-born children of mainland parents unless the reasons for the request are very compelling. Under recently revised rules, only the director or assistant director of the Social Welfare Department can exercise discretionary power to grant the money to such children or their appointed families in Hong Kong. The rules were tightened last month after the department received complaints that in some cases the subsidies were being sent to the children's parents on the mainland or appointed families were refusing to take care of the children unless they were subsidised, social welfare director Stephen Fisher said. Before February 1, senior social welfare officials were also empowered to approve the assistance for such children. Mr Fisher said he would not grant discretionary CSSA to children who were living apart from their mainland parents because he felt it was in the children's best interests. 'No matter whether the parents are good or not, it is better for children to live with their parents instead of with a family that asks for an extra subsidy to look after them.' He said the department could take care of the children if their parents were on the mainland. 'Unless the appointed family can persuade me that they can do better with the help of CSSA than our department, I can't see why the appointed family should be granted the children's subsidy.' Mr Fisher said he had listened to the difficulties of many mainland parents and appointed parents since last month, but none had been able to persuade him to grant them discretionary CSSA. According to the department, 178 Hong Kong-born children whose parents are both mainlanders applied for the assistance between August 2006 and December last year. Of these, 89 applications were made by the appointed families in Hong Kong. All the applications were successful. Mr Fisher said the department would pay extra attention to the 89 appointed families who were receiving CSSA for the children. The standard CSSA rate granted to the children ranges from HK$1,330 to HK$1,665 per month. The sum is dependent on the size of the appointed family. Census and Statistics Department figures showed that 18,816 babies were born in Hong Kong last year to mainland women whose spouses were non-local residents.