Harbin ramps up childcare services

Updated: Apr 26, 2024 By Zhou Huiying and Tian Xuefei in Harbin China Daily Print
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A new comprehensive service center for childcare in Harbin, Heilongjiang province, is expected to be finished by the end of the year, aiming to enhance support for the high-quality development of childcare services, the city's health commission said recently.

The center will train childcare practitioners, supervise and manage childcare institutions, research and develop childcare products, and provide guidance for family childcare and childcare services.

The center aims to provide technical support and benchmarks for the high-quality development of childcare service institutions and promote overall improvement, the commission said.

From the start of last year to the first quarter of this year, Harbin set aside 240 million yuan ($33.1 million) for the construction of inclusive childcare service institutions including the comprehensive service center, the commission said.

The center will contain a training building, with facilities such as a childcare product research and development room, a teaching aids production room, an audiovisual production room, a training classroom and a product exhibition hall.

There will also be a childcare building with 16 classrooms providing 150 places for infants and preschool children and 60 places for children with special needs.

The commission said construction has also begun on 10 community public childcare institutions in the city.

Harbin has 550 childcare institutions of various types, with 30,816 childcare places — providing 3.28 childcare places per thousand people. An additional 1,135 public childcare places will be provided by the end of this year, the commission said.

According to official statistics, 33,000 babies were born in Harbin in 2022, giving the city a birthrate of 3.6 births per 1,000 population.

Other inclusive childcare service institutions have been put into operation or are under construction across the country.

In January, the first district- or county-level comprehensive childcare service center in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province, was opened. It has different functional areas and can provide full daycare services for children from newborns to three-year-olds.

Guangzhou, Guangdong province, will build one city comprehensive service center and 11 district-level comprehensive service centers this year.

"High-quality inclusive childcare services are conducive to reducing the burden of child-rearing and releasing fertility potential," Yan Hong, chairman of the China Population Association's childcare service branch, said at a recent childcare service training course in Nanjing, Jiangsu province. "The current demand for childcare services in our country is high but the effective high-quality supply is insufficient.

"Therefore, vigorously developing childcare services and building a comprehensive service system with diversified subjects, standardized management and quality assurance can play a very important basic role in helping to improve fertility support policies, reduce the burden of childbirth and promote high-quality population development."

Harbin has continuously improved support policies for childbirth, including providing families with monthly childcare subsidies of 500 yuan for a second child and 1,000 yuan for a third child.

Families that have a second or third child will also receive subsidies of 15,000 yuan or 20,000 yuan respectively when they buy a newly built house.

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