Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon speaks about the city's new subsidy program during a press conference at the city government building, Thursday. (Yonhap)
The Seoul Metropolitan Government on Thursday announced that the government would provide a 300,000 won ($226) monthly subsidy to babysitting family members to help young parents find child care.
But, concerns have already mounted that the system could be abused.
According to the city government, Seoul will provide a monthly subsidy of 300,000 won to those looking after a relative’s child under three for over 40 hours per month. The household’s combined earnings must be less than 150 percent of the standard median income to apply for the subsidy, which can be provided for up to 12 months. When non-custodial family members take care of two or three children, the subsidy can increase to 450,000 or 600,000 won, respectively.
The city government plans to subsidize some 16,000 citizens next year and expand the program so that around 49,000 citizens can benefit from the program by 2026.
Yet, concerns have been raised that some people may take unfair advantage of the subsidy as it is difficult for the government to check who non-custodial family members are and how many hours they spend caring for the children.
The city government said it would require a written pledge and a working plan from people who apply for the program while rescinding the subsidy if they are found to have broken the rules and taken undue gains.
This 12-month-long subsidy is part of the city government’s five-year welfare program to support parents with children under 10. The government will inject a total of 14.7 trillion won over the five-year period.
As part of the program, the Seoul city government will also operate a service that will take sick and injured children to hospitals in the absence of their parents. The service will be available in five districts before later being expanded.
The city government has also prepared a service in which employees accompany children to and from learning facilities and other child care locations. The government will initially secure 500 staff members in 25 districts and will expand the number to 800 by 2026.
In addition, the city government will encourage maternity and paternity leave by providing a subsidy worth a maximum of 1.2 million won. Households with expectant parents, working parents or multiple children will be eligible to apply for housekeeping services offered by the government.
Seoul city government will create a website with further details on its parenting support program by August next year.
By Shim Woo-hyun (firstname.lastname@example.org