Tian Hui Ping
 "Social Services for Disabled People is an Important Part of Cultural Development - The Challenge of Social Services for Disabled People in China -"

 Social service systems for the disabled are some of the important factors in the socio-cultural structure. While the world is well aware of China’s economic development the past 25 years, at the same time, there are several severe problems that are not being addressed. Therefore, since economic development is not all of socio-cultural development, the establishment and improvement of social service systems must be examined. When viewed in comparison with economic and technological “prosperity” in China, social service systems are eminently poor and we can say that programs for the disabled are virtually nil. In fact, in China today, disabled people are usually taken care of by their parents (and when the parents are gone, other family members), which has been a Chinese tradition for thousands of years.
 In China, the families of disabled people can expect almost no support from the community, though there should be some support in regards to economic aid in terms of medical treatment, training, education, nursing care and the governmental welfare system. Though China has experiences 25 years of massive change, the social service system for disabled people has fallen between the cracks, with the biggest problem being the fact that the government doesn’t have any tax-supported policy. In addition, disabled people and their families aren’t aware that rights of the disabled should be supported by the social security system. The government feels they are not responsible to the families of disabled people, and those who are disabled and their families consider themselves to just be unlucky. According to research conducted by Stars and Rain, more than 90% of parents/guardians of autistic children feel that the “care and nursing of disabled people” is a “family issue” and not “social issue”. This reflects how people currently feel about this issue in Chinese society.
 In past 10 years, some private support organizations (NGO) for disabled people have gradually been established in various places around China. Because they don’t receive any financial aid from the government, many are finding it difficult to pay rents and salaries for staff members. Therefore, there are few truly active organizations. Their sole financial source is fees they receive from those who receive their service. Because there is no social security system, the financial burden on families with disabled members is quite serious. Parents/guardians are concerned about not only the financial burden for their disabled children but at how their children will live when they cannot work any more and after their deaths.

 Take a look at services for autistic children. NGOs are major providers of these services, but they are economically very unstable, and at the same time, they face a lack of exclusive resources. In detail, these problems are as follows:
  1. A lack of staff members with expertise, who have academic backgrounds and qualifications. There are very few universities that offer special education and social welfare courses.
  2. A lack of training and seminar opportunities. For example, in regards to teaching ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysts), veteran instructors at Stars and Rain do explore this field, but there are no other resources for study or seminars except Stars and Rain.
  3. A lack of exclusive documentation and data. For example, there is almost no data written in Chinese regarding autism. Needless to say there is even less in regards to curriculum, educational materials, and books concerning related matters and lists.
  4. A lack of products, including specific facilities and equipment in the service industry, for disabled people.
As a summary, I consider the following to be important:
  1. Related specialists and academic groups from this field should conduct detailed research on the condition of disabled people’s lives in China and offer this data and practicable plans so the government institute policy and improve the law.
  2. Understanding the needs and issues of providers of these services and conduct exclusive training and offer support.
  3. Build close cooperative relationships with service providers, collectively promote the development of the service industry and improve the quality of services. (For example, letting service providers join in research business while researchers deeply involve themselves in the service organization)
The above is my prospective from 13 years of service to autistic patients in China, and I would like share it with others and devote it to government practices
Tian Hui Ping
Beijing Stars and Rain Education Institute
March 22, 2006