Social welfare policies are believed to be a society's greatest protection in life. A city of love respects life and helps the weak. These actions of love will have an effect on the society, and on the country as a whole. Social welfare policies provided by the city government can help many of those who are in need, so that their quality of life can be improved. It is hoped that Taichung city will become a city where love is passed forward.
Human Kindness Brings Warmth
An English poet once said that no man is an island. It is all because of love that people help one another, that no one is ever alone. Social welfare policies are there to solve social problems and take care of social needs; they can also be considered as emergency policies for helping the weak and the poor.
The planning and execution of social welfare policies not only represent the manifestation of social justice, it is also an indication of how well a society progresses, said Mayor Jason Hu. Since he came into office, Mayor Hu has continually pushed forward the idea that Taichung must become a city of love through social welfare policies that are not only restricted to just providing emergency aid relief.
Apart from upholding basic human rights, taking care of the mentally and physically challenged, caring for women, children and the aged, the government should also actively promote welfare policy concepts that focus on people, place the weak at the forefront, place importance in the quality of the environment and to create a city of love. It is important that the government must actively take care of people's needs, realize these needs in advance so that these social welfare concepts can be carried out in actuality.
In the past three years, the city government's social welfare policies have been following the lead of the people's needs, and the focus is on servicing the entire community in a positive manner and look forward to the future. It is the city government's aim to make use of limited welfare resources, provide support and services to those in need, build a warm and safe welfare network, enforce basic safety and strengthen protection for the weak and needy, so that Taichung becomes a warm and loving city.
Priority Welfare Policies for the Weak and Needy
The goal of Taichung city's welfare policies for the physically and mentally challenged people's living condition is: "Love conquers all disabilities and equal opportunities for all." In 2003 and 2004, the city government’s work with the physically and mentally challenged received second place in recognition by the Ministry of Interior. Apart from providing the physically and mentally challenged with economic security and commuting services via rehabilitation buses, the city government has also established a "Love Home", the largest of its kind in East Asia. These efforts have gained the recognition and attention of other counties and cities alike.
This welfare center for the physically and mentally challenged is the biggest of its kind in East Asia. It has a swimming pool, a rehabilitation center and other facilities for taking care of disabled people. When the building was first completed, government funds had run out. After being left unutilized for almost four years, Mr. Jason Hu came into office as mayor of Taichung city, and he immediately put in a request to the Department of Social Welfare. He had hoped to have this building functioning in a year's time, and that he would not allow for this completed five floor high welfare facility for the disabled to be left empty.
After thorough consideration, the project was commissioned to Taichung's famous Maria Social Welfare Foundation without further delay. The Maria Social Welfare Foundation has always been a "good friend" of Taichung city, with its excellent results and experiences in providing services for the physically and mentally challenged. Back in the days when Mr. Jason Hu was the Head of the Government Information Office and when he was the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Jason Hu had already been an active volunteer, helping the Maria Social Welfare Foundation raise funds, as well as helping related units to acquire subsidies. The total amount came to hundreds of thousands of NT dollars. Mr. Jason Hu expressed that he lends his complete support to these professionals who help take care of the disabled.
"Love Home" is one of the few government established but privately run welfare organizations. This means that they are not restricted by the employment rules of government departments, giving it more flexibility in its management so that it can provide more services to the public with its limited resources. Mayor Jason Hu also suggested the name "Love Home".
"Love Home" combines the professional services of Taichung city's related departments, community groups, medical specialists, special education teams and other specialists in related fields to provide help for over 20,000 registered members of society who are physically or mentally challenged as well as others who need help in this area. Adoption services, medical services, educational services and employment services are provided. Each day, a maximum number of 305 people can be taken in for care and educational purposes. At the moment, Love Home has 126 intakes, 87 of them are seriously disabled or severely handicapped, 97 of them are mentally handicapped or have multiple disabilities. In 2004, over 90,000 people were provided with services at Love Home.
Welfare for Women and Children, Providing Complete Protection
The city government also puts a great deal of effort into promoting women's welfare policies. In July 2003, a Taichung City Women's Welfare Service Center was established on WuQuan 3rd Street in the West District. And on August 10, a "Nanny Resource Center" was established at the YingCai Park Women and Children's Center. This is the first of its kind in Taiwan, also a unique development in the social welfare system.
In order to assist single parent families, the Taichung city government officially established the "Xiang Qing Family Welfare Services Center" at the Women and Children's Center. This service center provides six major kinds of services including: professional services for single parent families, single parent families' parental development services, single parent families' children's professional development services, single parent families support services and promotion of services for single parent families. A quarterly magazine that promotes women's welfare is also published by the service center.
Taking Care of the Aged, Providing Housing and Care
Up until July of 2004, Taichung city has over 73,000 people who are aged 65 or above, a total of 7.15% of the city's total population. In order to reinforce care services for the aged, the city government has already commissioned the Catholic Xiao Ming Social Welfare Services Foundation, the Taichung City Caring Services Association, the Catholic Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Mary, Chang Sheng Old People's Long Term Care Center, Lao Wu Lao Foundation, Hong Dao Foundation for the Welfare of the Aged, Quan Cheng Foundation and other community services to provide seven home care services support centers and to promote help for low income elderly people and give home care services to the aged who live alone. It is hoped that these centers would provide the best care and attention for elderly people, especially the ones who live on their own. The Department of Social Welfare also established a "Care Management Center" to help train professional and qualified caregivers who would provide care to old people who are disabled or living alone.
The Department of Social Welfare also established day care service centers at community development associations. Through regular three and a half days of activities each week, elderly people are invited to take part in community activities under the care of professionals helpers, these free activities are aimed at helping the elderly to continue social interaction as well as delaying their aging process by exercising their minds and bodies.
In the last three years, the central government has been carrying out studies and examinations of welfare services provided by local governments for the elderly. In 2002, Taichung city came 5th place in the entire country, in 2003, Taichung city came 1st place and in 2004, Taichung received a commendation for its welfare services to the elderly.
Emergency Help Services-Lending a Helping Hand to Those in Need
The Taichung city government aims to take positive action for those who require care, to respect the needs of these people and to assist them in reestablishing independence. With those aims in mind, many emergency social help and services are actively promoted. These services include improving the care of low-income earners, helping to house the homeless and other counseling services.
One of the common problems for modern societies is homeless people. Taichung city's homeless population has increased from 204 in 2001 to 494 in 2002. This was a rapid increase, but with the relentless efforts of the city government and community organizations, this number was reduced to 443 in 2003 and then to 329 in 2004. Compared to Taipei and Kaohsiung where the homeless population has been steadily increasing, Taichung is the only city to carry out effective measures so that the numbers have been decreasing. The city government established a "Taichung City Homeless Halfway Home" that provides temporary shelter for the homeless. Volunteers from the community have come together to help these homeless people rediscover their own potential, learn new skills and receive training so that they reenter the workforce. In 2004, the city government, the Tian Yuan Elderly People's Care Center and nine other homes signed contracts to expand care and shelter services. During the same period, the city government also established a "Homeless People Care Center" that provides homeless people with a place to receive psychological counseling, a place to shower, get a haircut, change their clothes, get referrals for medical attention, receive career counseling, get first aid and emergency help, and even receive travel fare for them to return to their hometowns as well as other services. All these services are provided in the hopes of helping them return to normal social life. Using the "Heart and Soul Care Plan" that was carried out by the city government as an example, the number of services provided to homeless people in need was 13,256 times, and these services included psychological counseling, shower, haircut, meal deliveries, work referrals, free medical care, shower and clothes changes and other cleaning services.
In an effort to establish an emergency aid network, the city government has set up emergency resource centers in different districts, created a handbook for these emergency resources, and started a communications management system. A system for transferring cash resources for emergency relief was also established and authorized to dispense relief funds in different districts. The city government also made sure that subsidies are given to various relief stations that have been established by local offices, to ensure that emergency aid goes to those who are in need.
For over three years, the city government team has been working enthusiastically to build a more extensive care network. The results are now becoming obvious, yet due to the limited resources in budget and manpower, there continues to be room for improvement.
Mayor Hu pointed out that it is fortunate that Taichung is a warm and friendly city, where many community organizations are quietly working hard, along with many volunteer workers who give up their time and effort for the better of society without asking for anything in return. This also allows the city government to give the society's weak and needy even more consideration concerning their needs and requirements.