The Korea Herald

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지나쌤

S. Korea expands support for single-parent families, teenagers

By Choi Jeong-yoon

Published : Dec. 28, 2023 - 17:11

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South Korea on Thursday revealed plans to boost support for single-parent households and troubled teenagers by increasing funding for related welfare programs.

The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family has extended the period during which single-parent families can spend living in residential welfare facilities assisting low-income single-parent households to prepare for independence in a stable environment.

The single-parent residential welfare facilities, with 122 locations nationwide, provide housing support, counseling and therapy, medical support, parental education and employment support for families that earn 100 percent or less of the median income.

Specifically, the period of use for single-parent residential welfare facilities for a parent who is preparing to give birth or has a child under age 3 was extended from one year to one and a half years, while the period of use for single-parent residential welfare facilities supporting parenting for children under age 6 was extended from two to three years, and the period of use for such residential facilities that support general living for single-parent families with children under age 18 was extended from three to five years.

The types of facilities were reorganized to focus on children's ages and support services, whereas they used to focus on family types, such as families consisting of a married mother and child or single mother and child.

Additionally, pregnant women under the age of 24 preparing to raise their child alone will be able to enter residential childbirth support facilities, regardless of income, starting next year.

The government also plans to continue supporting a monthly subsidy of 500,000 won to pregnant teenagers and low-income single parents through public-private partnerships.

"To help mothers and fathers establish independence, such as obtaining qualifications, we provide child care services completely free of charge," said Kim Hyun-sook, minister of gender equality and family.

"As of November, a total of 1,163 children of single-parent families received support in the last six months," Kim added.

Expanding the support program for at-risk youth was one of the two pillars in the ministry's plan revealed Thursday. The support program aims to provide necessities, living expenses, medical treatment, psychological counseling fees and education for those aged between 9 and 24 who are experiencing social and economic difficulties.

At-risk youth are defined as teenagers who are in danger of falling into delinquency or deviant behavior, those not attending school and youth without parental care. The Gender Equality and Family Ministry has expanded this definition to include children of single-parent families under the age of 18 who struggle socially and are financially eligible for support.

The ministry has also raised the income eligibility threshold for special support for youth in crisis from the previous 65 percent to 100 percent of the median income, as well as introduced support for youth in seclusion.