SEOUL, Jan. 19 (Korea Bizwire) — A 24-hour hotline for parents of severely ill children to call and set up house calls by a physician is one of a number of childcare initiatives to be trialed by the government going forward.
Though house calls are not completely unheard of, the financial costs associated with offering a service of this nature have prevented children physically unable to make the trip to a hospital from meeting with medical professionals for years on end.
In order to remedy this problem, the Ministry of Health and Welfare has declared that health insurance coverage will be extended to include house calls.
The initiative will be initially restricted to children suffering from debilitating illnesses before its scope is widened to the general population.
Starting next September, families belonging to the bottom 90 percent income group will be granted a 100,000 won monthly stipend for every child from 0 to 5 years of age.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare stated that it expects to be ready to start taking in applications from families this June.
The government estimates that 2.38 million children will be eligible for the new program. Originally, the stipends were to be provided to all 2.53 million qualifying children regardless of their household income status, but pushback from within the National Assembly forced a compromise.
Despite the setback, health authorities will re-raise the question of broadening the scope of the program in parliament come February.
Measures to protect and aid at-risk children are key bullet points on the government’s agenda. Around 3,600 families who have been identified as highly likely to persist in committing child abuse will be provided with counseling services. In the latter half of the year, child abuse prevention training will be implemented across all public institutions and corporations.
To catch at-risk children that are in danger of falling through the cracks, a nationwide system will be developed using school attendance records, health examination results and other databases that will seek to identify these particular individuals before it’s too late.
Also included in the government’s preview of childcare initiatives are 450 new publicly funded daycare centers and extended access to youth centers previously restricted to low-income and dual-income households to accommodate elementary school aged children hailing from middle class families.