Authorities in Nanchang, Jiangxi province have issued a new scheme to protect left-behind children, stipulating that parents who are migrant workers cannot leave children under 16 to live by themselves.
The plan, which aims to establish a protective system for left-behind children in rural areas, encourages migrant workers to take their children with them when they migrate. For those who cannot live with their children, a qualified guardian must be appointed to care for the kids.
The local government will also create a personal file for each of the left-behind children in an effort to keep track of their lives and offer them necessary aid. The government plans to establish more care centers, which can offer such children services including psychological counseling and day care.
The term "left-behind children" refers to rural children under 16 whose parents are migrant workers, or those with one migrant-worker parent and one parent incapable of guardianship. Currently, there are over 9 million left-behind children in China, according to China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs (CMA).
The separation of children from their migrant-worker parents has created a number of social issues. In June 2015, four siblings in southwestern China’s Guizhou province died after drinking pesticide. Three of the children were under 10. Their mother had left the family, and their father had migrated for work. The children lived without a guardian for about two years.
Meanwhile, the Chinese government has been making earnest efforts to tackle the problem. According to CMA’s 2016 annual report, there were 560,000 fewer left-behind children in 2015 than the year before. More children had also migrated together with their parents, thanks to favorable policies including easier access to schools in urban areas.