Director of Social Welfare Charmaine Lee on Friday stressed that the government will seriously follow up on abuse cases at a Prince Edward foster home, adding that authorities will not hold back on ramping up inspections of residential child care centres.
Lee's comments came a day after the government released a report on the first phase review of the city's residential child care facilities and related services, with 31 recommendations covering three areas – service regulation and monitoring, quality, and planning.
Stepping up inspection efforts was among the recommendations made by the Committee on Review of Residential Child Care and Related Services, which was established in the wake of a child abuse scandal at the Children's Residential Home in Prince Edward.
On an RTHK programme, Lee said she understands that what happened at the foster home sparked outrage in society, and the Social Welfare Department has been following up on the matter seriously.
The director also said authorities have beefed up inspections of residential child care facilities across the territory since April this year.
"We did not wait until the report was released yesterday to take action...We have incorporated health inspectors served by nurses in the Child Care Centres Advisory Inspectorate, and invited people who had worked in law enforcement to join our team, so as to step up inspection," she said.
The report also suggested setting up a surveillance period for non-compliant organisations, during which time they would be required to submit an evaluation report, including proposals for improvements, alongside regular progress reports.
"We will closely monitor the effectiveness of implementing the improvement measures, and decide whether the operator is still suitable to provide part, or all of, the services subvented by the Social Welfare Department," Lee said.
"Regarding the child abuse incidents at the Children's Residential Home, it seriously violated service quality standards, so the department will put in place a period of surveillance."