As the society has developed over time and the overall environment has improved, different social problems still prevail. Children in Children's Residential Home (CRH) were abandoned babies or orphans in the early years. Nowadays, the issue of baby abandonment is uncommon, however they may have more complicated family backgrounds, such as parents with long-term drug abuse habit, child abuse behavior or mental health problem.
Staff in the CRH recalled, “There was a baby who was born drug addicted as his mother continued to take drugs during her pregnancy. Every time withdrawal symptoms occurred, he would toss and turn in the cot and cry badly. We felt so upset to see this and could only try our best to look after and comfort him... Indeed, children are innocent and they should not bear such suffering. I truly hope this kind of thing won’t happen again to any child.”
Being a family-oriented society, Chinese people cherish the dining time with their family members. However, not all families are lucky enough to have the minimal space for cooking and eating at the same table, due to their small and cramped living environment.
Mrs Ma, who used to live in a subdivided flat on Portland Street in Mong Kok with her family, had the same problem. “Our kitchen was right outside the bathroom, which was very unhygienic to food preparation. What’s worse, every time my young kids had to pass by the hot cooking stove and working kitchen utensils, I was so afraid that they might cause accidents.”
Moreover, “Some families I know are not even allowed to cook at home as their subdivided flats do not meet the Fire Services Ordinances. They have no choice but to eat out, which greatly increases their household expenses and makes their financial situation even worse.”
It is natural for parents to feel anxious when they notice developmental delay or signs of special educational needs (SEN) in their children, and might desperately seek prompt support services. However, the process might be longer and more difficult than we expect.
Yu Yan mother found her daughter having developmental problems when Yu Yan entered the nursery school at the age of 2. “I took Yu Yan to the nearest Maternal and Child Health Centre immediately to seek assistance. After the doctor and social worker at the centre learned about Yu Yan’s situation, they referred us to the government’s assessment service. However, the waiting time was as long as 9 months, and the location of the service was remote and cannot be reached directly by public transport. It was very inconvenient to me as I needed to work and look after two children at the same time. Since I had no idea how to seek other support services, I felt completely helpless.”