Our Priorities

According to the Second National Sample Survey of Disabled Persons in China (SNSSD) conducted in 2006*, it is estimated that China has a population of 5.8 million children living with some kind of disability.

China has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. All children with disabilities in China are now entitled to access social services, like health care and education.

Nonetheless, implementation will require much effort, and too many children with disabilities are still without critical services. Around one-thirdof such children do not attend primary school, and 60 per cent have never received any social assistance.

Most children with disabilities live in poverty in rural areas. Local health care workers may not be qualified to provide rehabilitation services. Teachers may lack training in special needs education.

Children with disabilities also suffer discrimination. Schools may refuse to enroll them, communities may shun them, and some families even consider them a shame or burden.

The lack of community-based family support and social services results in a heavy childcare burden for parents, which contributes to a high rate of abandonment. As many as 90% of children in institutional care are disabled.

Child welfare institutions also frequently lack staff qualified to support the development of children with disabilities. As a result, children in institutional care may develop learning and social impairments.

Ensuring delivery of social services to children with disabilities

UNICEF works with the Ministry of Civil Affairs and the China Disabled Persons' Federation to expand access to necessary social services for children with disabilities.

We are helping to develop a model for community-based day care centers that meet the social service needs of children with disabilities and help parents cope with the additional childcare responsibilities. At these centers, children can access rehabilitation services or participate in sports, games and activities that serve education and awareness-raising purposes. Other services, like referrals, life-skills training, and parenting support, are also available.

In addition, we assist with annual surveys that gather data for policy recommendations to improve the lives of disabled children and their families. We also support public service announcements, campaigns and television spots to raise awareness and reduce discrimination against children with disabilities.

Making a difference

UNICEF's efforts to improve the lives of children with disabilities are showing results. Increasing numbers of children with disabilities are enrolled in school. Through our work to help disabled children and their families, we aim to support those students so they can complete the entire nine years of basic education in China.

Discrimination towards children with disabilities is also diminishing. Official policy now recognizes the rights of children with disabilities to enjoy the basic minimum standards of living (小康社会), including access to social services.

Models for day-care centers and community-based services for children with disabilities are helping to keep families with disabled children united.

You can help improve the lives of children with disabilities. Take action by looking for ways to include children with disabilities in your community activities, and to treat these children fairly.Or find out how you can support UNICEF's work today

*The SNSSD is a household survey and thus does not include figures of Children with Disabilities in institutions such as social welfare homes and foster care facilities.

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