China's civil affairs workers have been urged to offer quality assistance for vagrants and beggars reaching out for help, and not to send the needy away to "shake off burdens."
Government workers must not bypass due procedures to entrust vagrants and beggars to the care of third parties at will, Vice Civil Affairs Minister Zou Ming said on Tuesday at a meeting.
He said although 95 percent of Chinese cities have well-equipped centers to accommodate the needy, many such rooms are empty.
Tragic stories of homeless people, unaccompanied children in some cases, found dead in harsh weather under overpasses or in tunnels are routinely reported in China.
"Civil affairs workers should know that their responsibilities for the homeless and beggars still exists even after they are sent to other care institutions. These people are not burdens to shake off," Zou said.
According to Zou, civil affairs departments should maintain regular inspections and even random, anonymous visits to third-party care centers, disqualifying those failing to offer good service.
"It must be noted that many regions haven't made enough effort to look for the relatives of the homeless and beggars," Zou said, referring to rules that require civil affairs departments to identify those being assisted and issue public notices to search for their families and relatives.
Zou urged civil affairs departments to keep key personal information for future checks, especially pictures and illness records, and solicit the help of the police if initial search efforts yield no results within seven workdays.
In addition, concerned departments were told to accommodate the needy separately based on gender, age and physical and mental conditions, preventing the mixture of minors and adults, the mentally challenged and other handicapped persons.