China says disabled children increasing, counts 190,000 orphans across country

The number of orphans fell by 66 percent between 2012 and 2019, from about 570,000 to 190,000, a Ministry of Civil Affairs official said Tuesday, the China Daily reports.

Zhao Yong, deputy head of the ministry’s child welfare department, said 59,000 of them are reared in the country’s sprawling orphanage network, down 30 percent from 86,000 in 2017, and more than 70 percent of county-level orphanages have less than 10 children.

Meanwhile, the ministry has registered a “sustained increase” in the share of disabled children, creating demand for quality rehabilitation services, he told a news conference in Beijing.

Zhao added the decline in the orphan population has prompted authorities to shift the roles of grassroots child welfare facilities, asking them to offer aid to needy groups in the countryside, such as the left-behind children who are vulnerable to negligence because their parents work away in cities.

“The move aims to better use and coordinate the resources at the disposal of the ministry,” he said.

Hu Xiangyang, who oversees rehabilitation at the China Disabled Persons’ Federation, said authorities also encourage grassroots facilities to offer rehabilitation services to children outside the institution.

“It’s a good innovation,” he said, “because it allows quality resources to benefit more people in need.”

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