No one would dispute that very young abandoned or orphaned children or those from troubled family backgrounds need society’s special care and protection. Once institutional arrangements appear to be in place, however, it can easily become a case of out of sight, out of mind – hardly a recipe for discharging such a duty of care. If a reminder were needed it is to be found in the shocking scandal of mistreatment at a Mong Kok care home run by the Hong Kong Society for the Protection of Children, leading to the arrests of more than 30 people for allegedly abusing 40 youngsters. The society has replaced senior executives and increased the ratio of carers to residents. But the recommendations of a special review committee, including lawmakers, experts and welfare groups, seen by the Post , demonstrate the real scope of measures needed to safeguard the welfare of some of the most vulnerable in society. Core elements are a multidisciplinary mechanism for surprise checks on care and residential homes for children, and greater resources, training and frontline staffing. The report, by the Committee on Review of Residential Childcare and Related Services, called for the creation of “service quality groups” consisting of community leaders, justices of the peace, and professionals from the healthcare, education and social welfare sectors. They would be tasked with carrying out the surprise checks. Legislator Tik Chi-yuen said these were among measures that could be implemented first. Ex-carer jailed for about 7 months in Hong Kong abuse scandal at child charity Amplifying the issues facing care centres, the report said 40 per cent of children had special education needs and many parents had problems such as drug abuse. The children also generally had complicated health issues. It said the ratio of care workers to children should be lifted from 1 to 6.2 to 1 to 4.5 – a considerable increase. Calling for improved pay packages to help retain talent, committee member Judy Chan Kapui rightly expressed concern that once better trained, staff could be attracted by working conditions elsewhere such as kindergartens. The committee will file a second report after collecting views from relevant stakeholders. But the dimensions and fundamental nature of the problems are already clear enough. The government should lose no time in acting on them.