Haikou City, Hainan Province
With the generous support of the University of Chicago Center in Beijing and UNICEF Beijing Office, the International Symposium on Child Welfare and Protection was successfully held in Haikou City, Hainan Province on December the 5th and 6th, 2017. The symposium was organized by Chapin Hall Center at the University of Chicago in cooperation with the China Philanthropy Institute at Beijing Normal University. Located on the University of Chicago campus, Chapin Hall is a leading policy research center in the US with a mission of improving the well-being of children and youth, families, and their communities.
In the last three decades, rapid industrialization and urbanization in China have created new opportunities as well as enormous challenges for the well-being of tens of millions of children. The rural exodus due to massive migration of peasants to urban areas in search of better paying jobs have led to the plight of many children who are left behind with little adult supervision and the difficulties of many migrant children in adapting to an often unfriendly urban environment. In recent years the central and local Chinese governments have made great efforts to put together a viable child welfare system for ameliorating the conditions of vulnerable children and their families. To help Chinese policy makers and administrators make informed decisions, the international symposium brought together eminent policy experts from the US and England and their Chinese counterparts to exchange ideas on child welfare policies and practices and discuss how China can benefit from the experience of US and Western European countries.
Among the distinguished speakers at the symposium are three foreign policy experts: Professor Mark Courtney of University of Chicago SSA, Chapin Hall Senior Fellow Fred Wulczyn, and Professor Nina Biehal of University of York in the UK. They talked in detail about the policies, practices and operation of the child welfare and protection systems in the US, England and some European countries. Well-known Chinese policy scholars, including Ms. Gao Yurong of China Philanthropy Institute and Professor Lu Shizhen of China Youth University of Political Studies, described the development of the child welfare and protection policies in China. Child welfare administrators from civil affairs departments of several provinces and prefectures in Sichuan, Guizhou, Yunan, Henan, and Shanxi spoke about the various innovative programs and procedures they had adopted to improve the well-being of disadvantaged children and their families.
Through lively exchange at the symposium, the Chinese participants have achieved a better understanding of the structure and operations of child welfare and protection systems in the US and other countries. They agree that although China has made great strides in instituting various polices to serve the vulnerable children, it still lacks an integrated system and a professional workforce to better meet the different and multiple needs of these children. The University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration, as one of the top graduate schools of social work and welfare, and Chapin Hall, as a prestigious policy research institution on child welfare, are uniquely poised to collaborate with Chinese policy experts in developing roadmaps for an effective child welfare system that can greatly benefit the millions of children in adversity. The success of the symposium will pave the way for a long-term research partnership between the University of Chicago SSA, Chapin Hall and the China Philanthropy Research Institute.