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The original article, 미혼모정책방향-스스로 아이 키울 수 있도록 지원해야, was published in Women News in June 28, 2010 and translated by KUMSN. If you have any question, please contact KUMSN (firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Policy Directions for Unwed Mothers
Supports needed to enable unwed mothers to bring up children
Nearly 60% of unwed mothers want to bring their kids by themselves
Debate on the biggest challenge: "extended facilities" vs. "housing assistance"
Low fertility in recent years has urged a new paradigm for the government's policies for unwed mothers. The fundamental shift is under its way from adoption-oriented policies, designed for unwed mothers to stand by themselves, to bringing up of children by single parents. Governmental policies are focusing on the provision of necessary supports for this change. This is closely related to the change in unwed mothers' consciousness. Yet, the current policies are much behind this new consciousness and supplementing related policies is urgently required.
A recent research by Dr. Kim Hae-Young (Korean Women's Development Institute) shows that more unwed mothers prefer bringing up their children to putting up to adoption. She conducted a survey on 517 unwed mothers, residing both in facilities and in community, and found that 57.8% of them had chosen or were willing to choose to bring up their children while 42.2% chose adoption. For the reason why they chose adoption, 'the lack of financial capabilities' is the most significant one (34.4%). This implies that they give up bringing-up because of poor environments for child rearing.
Dr. Kim says, "Starting from 2009, some significant changes have been made to support unwed or remarried mothers". One notable example is the foster care aid for young parents with children under 25, which enacted in April 2010. By this newly enacted aid program, families under 150% of the minimum cost of living can receive 100,000 KRW of child support payments per month and other supportive services including medical expenses, education fee for getting highschool certification, and matching saving program. Although those programs are viewed as unprecedented changes in policies for unwed mothers, there also exist criticisms that new policies are narrow-sighted since they limit the issue of unwed mothers to youth only.
Ms. Kwon Hee-Jung, a program coordinator at Korean Unwed Mothers Support Network, points out some weaknesses of the new policy changes, saying "Given that only about 3,000 of 23,000 estimated unwed mothers in the country are using facilities for unwed mothers, it is extremely narrow approach to have policies focused only on facilities. Facility oriented policies reflect that lack of understanding about the issue of the people who design policies for unwed mothers." "Instead, housing assistance is more crucial and urgent for unwed mothers residing in the community. Along with this, chances for employment and services for child care should be provided. Introducing one-parent internship can be also considered", she adds.
Ministry of Gender Equality & Family recently released its plan to extend support for more unwed mothers to be able to be accommodated in the facilities and to strengthen policies to help more unwed mothers both for recharging from the facilities and residing in the community, to be independent.
No. 1088 [Current Affairs] (June 25, 2010)
Soo-hee Kim / Women News (email@example.com)