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Seoul renews support program for multi-child families to boost birth rate

New plan defines ‘multi-child family’ as household with 2 or more children, widening eligibility pool

May 16, 2023 - 15:29 By Park Jun-hee
Children and parents shop at a toy store at the Starfield Hanam Branch in Gyeonggi Province on Children’s Day. (Yonhap)

The Seoul Metropolitan Government said Tuesday that the city government will expand the pool of beneficiaries for a new program designed to support multi-child families by lowering the bar for “multi-child” family from the current three to two children.

Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon said the new child benefit scheme would beef up support for families with more than one child, explaining that it would alleviate the economic burden of households and improve child care services.

To encourage more births, the definition of a “multi-child family” will be altered to include families with a minimum of two children from the current three.

The city will also grant free and discounted admissions for multi-child families with “multi-child happiness cards” -- a card issued by the municipality for households with more than one child where the youngest child is below 13 -- when entering city-run public facilities or places entrusted by the city, including the Seoul Grand Park and Seoul Science Center.

The city government will also reduce the housing burden for families with more than one child, by prioritizing their eligibility for government-run long-term rental schemes. “Children” refer to legal dependents under 19.

Under the current framework, the highest point of five was only given to households with five or more children. This will be revised so that families with three or more children will be awarded five points, while households with two or more children will be awarded three.

The city said it would prioritize families with two or more children for the housing supply plan, which would lower the barriers for them to enter lease apartments, explaining that the cost of raising multiple children is higher than one child.

As more women turn to fertility treatments to get pregnant, which often increases the chance of multiple births, the municipal government said it would provide child safety insurance for families with children below 24 months for free starting next year.

In addition, as high education costs have often put many parents off having a child or more than one child, the city government will subsidize enrollment fees for Seoul Learn, an online learning platform providing lectures from the country’s top private academies. The aid will be applied starting from the second child of a household with three or more children.

Seoul said it would expedite the necessary procedures to make such plans feasible and aims to implement the scheme in the latter half of the year.

“Parents raising more than one child are the heroes of this era at a time when people are reluctant to get married and have children,” Mayor Oh said via a press release, adding that he would continue implementing policies prioritizing multi-child families.

Currently, there are around 434,184 households in Seoul categorized as multi-child families with two or more children aged 18 or below, according to the city government.