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Proposal seeks extra aid for shidu couples

2014-01-22 09:12 Global Times Web Editor: Li Yan

The Shanghai Committee of the China Democratic League submitted a proposal Tuesday to give extra government benefits and support to couples who have lost their only child.

The committee advised the local government to help such couples as more and more parents have lost their only child in recent years. Its proposal said that there will be about 50,000 such couples in Shanghai in 10 or 20 years.

"Many of the parents are already 49 years old. It is nearly impossible for them to have another child, so they will need more public assistance as they get older," said Yu Senhai, a senior member of the committee.

Couples who have lost their only child are known as shidu families. There were roughly 8,000 shidu families in Shanghai in the first half of 2013. About 7,300 mothers from those couples are over the age of 49, so it is difficult for them to conceive another child.

"It is a major problem for shidu families to look after themselves," Yu told the Global Times. "Many of the couples can still take care of each other in their current state, but they will need someone else to help them when they get older."

The committee suggested that the government give priority to shidu parents who apply to be admitted into senior care facilities due to the shortage of space at such facilities.

The government also suggested that neighborhood committees or village committees should become the custodians of these parents and sign the papers when they are taken to hospitals or nursing homes.

The committee also suggested that the government waive public transportation fees for the couples when they reach age 60, and increase the current government stipend for such families on a regular basis. The current allowance for each shidu family in Shanghai is 500 yuan ($82.6) a month.

According to the proposal, most shidu families live on their pensions. About 90 percent have an annual income below 60,000 yuan. Of those, about 30 percent live on less than 20,000 yuan a year.

The committee also suggested that the government give the couples extra guidance if they apply to adopt a child or try to conceive another child.

The Shanghai Committee of Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference member Fang Huaijin asked the government to help solve the hukou problem that emerges when a shidu couple adopts a child from outside Shanghai.

Fang said that there are few children available for adoption in the city. Families who adopt children from other parts of China need to wait five years before the child can obtain Shanghai hukou.

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