CCTV to be required at day care centres in Korea

Policymakers have decided to introduce tighter measures to combat child abuse at day care centres and kindergartens nationwide, while offering more support programs for working and single parents.

In its policy briefing session at Cheong Wa Dae on Thursday, the Welfare Ministry reported that it planned to install surveillance cameras at about 90 per cent of kindergartens nationwide by next year.

In addition, both the ruling and opposition parties are to pass a law requiring all day care centres to install CCTV cameras in order to prevent child abuse by care providers.

"Child abuse is a crime that cannot be tolerated under any circumstances," said Welfare Minister Moon Hyong-pyo.

"We also acknowledge that the problem is associated with the long working hours of day care workers. We plan to come up with plans to tackle this issue as well."

Nationwide concern about child abuse by day care staff has erupted after a 33-year-old worker at an Incheon day care centre was caught on CCTV footage beating a 4-year-old for not finishing her meal.

President Park Geun-hye stressed the importance of such welfare programs and attracting more women into the workforce during the session on Thursday.

"The government has been introducing programs to help citizens with their work-life balance and boost women's employment rate," said Park.

"But it seems like not many citizens are benefiting from the programs. We need to find out what our fundamental problems are and come up with policies that serve people's specific needs."

On top of the measures to fight child abuse, the government also plans to establish a support centre for working parents, temporary state pension premium exemptions for women who quit their jobs to raise their children, and legal services for single parents who struggle to receive child support.

According to the Gender Equality Ministry, only 17 per cent of custodial parents, mostly single mothers, received child support in 2012.

The ministry is set to open an agency that will provide support to single parents in March. It will offer legal services as well as advice on hiring child-support payment collectors.

The government also raised its monthly allowance for single parents this year, from 70,000 won to 100,000 won ($64 to $92).

The Welfare Ministry is also offering free vaccinations for hepatitis A virus for children aged 1 to 3 starting this year. The government expects some 900,000 young children would benefit from it.

Meanwhile, the Welfare Ministry reaffirmed its initial plan to broaden the national health insurance programme's coverage to "four major diseases" ― cancer, heart disease, cerebrovascular disease and a total of 138 yet-to-be cured conditions such as Crohn's disease.

About 200 treatment options for the four diseases will be covered starting this year, including chemotherapy, drugs for Crohn's disease and antifungal agents. The ministry expects the patients would altogether save about 240 billion won with the additional insurance coverage.