Making social welfare work for every child

UNICEF Celebrates China child welfare work

29 May 2015
Representatives from counties that have already established social welfare and protection policy for children share their experience with the audience at the Child Welfare Week launch event.
UNICEF/China/2015/Shi Ying
Representatives from counties that have already established social welfare and protection policy for children share their experience with the audience at the Child Welfare Week launch event.

Beijing, 28 May, 2015 – As China celebrates the sixth Child Welfare Week along with International Children's day UNICEF echoes this year's theme to make social welfare work for every child. The week-long activities focus on advocating for more investments in China's social and child protection system and seek to engage academics, children, community organizations and Government in a dialogue on how the country can build a strong inclusive child welfare system.  

This year's Child Welfare Stocktaking Report, produced by Beijing Normal University which is an annual report by experts and academics working welfare and protection issues for children, highlights progress for children.  It notes that this year has brought increased attention and some progress to building an inclusive system that reaches more children. 

The report notes that coverage of life insurance is expanding and there has been growing investment in developing different specialized child welfare services. In addition, a new law on guardianship has strengthened the protection of children, and that more financial investment in rural education along with better policies to tackle childhood illness and prevent out of pocket expenses for families, are making a difference. 

The research findings also emphasize that there is still more work to be done to reach the millions of children in need.  It stresses that living allowances for poor children are still low and did not reach all the children in need. It also acknowledged that many disadvantaged children still face multiple challenges, including child abuse, poverty and lack of family care and support. 

"Evidence from here in China as well as from other countries demonstrates that the effective combination of social worker services and family financial assistance can play a critical role in protecting the rights and welfare of children", said Tim Sutton, Deputy Representative for UNICEF China. "With the right support from a strong community based social protection system, we can help identify risks for vulnerable children, avoid neglect, violence  and abuse, support access to public health care and medical aid and help them participate in social activities with confidence and dignity." 

The "barefoot social worker", a grassroots model to extend social services to vulnerable children started in partnership with the Ministry of Civil Affairs, UNICEF and academics from Beijing Normal University, is leading the way as a community based model that can reach children who live in the remotest and poorest parts of the country. 

Initiated in 2010, as a pilot project that covered 120 villages in five provinces(Henan, Sichuan, Shanxi, Xinjiang and Yunnan) to address the needs of children affected by HIV and AIDS, the scheme has quickly expanded to reach all vulnerable and orphaned children in pilot areas who were in need.  The Child Welfare Director or "barefoot social worker", who lives within the community, serves as the frontline interface with the child and their families to help them identify needs and link them with the corresponding social services or social assistance.  Since it started, it has now spread to over 1000 villages and more Provinces are working to replicate the system. 

The scheme, which has had measurable impact in supporting children to access services and receive better care as more children are registered, is now being rolled out to other provinces.  Often the "barefoot social worker" will help the child get a birth certificate or a residence identity that in turn can help them enrol in school, get vaccinated, and also access other social benefits. They also provide emotional and social support as well as identify protection issues that might contribute to a child's vulnerability. 

Media contacts

Liu Li
Communication Specialist
Tel: +86-10-85312612


UNICEF works in some of the world's toughest places, to reach the world's most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone. For more information about UNICEF and its work for children visit              

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