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Welfare Provision for Vulnerable Children: The Missing Role of the State

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 March 2005


This article examines the situation of non-governmental children's welfare institutions based on field investigation in China. The research finds that China's market-oriented reforms have created both the demand for and the resources required to meet the welfare needs of vulnerable children. The new private non-profit sector responds to the social demand of providing services to vulnerable children by mobilizing non-government resources whilst actively looking for new ways of co-operating with the state and fighting for legal status. However the Chinese state hesitates to establish formal relations with the new non-government sector owing to political or economic considerations, or the lack of necessary capacity and experience in the field. A major policy break-through is urgently needed to address the welfare needs of vulnerable children in China. The aim of this policy change must be to establish formal relations between the state and civil society and to define the regulatory role of the state in social welfare.

Research Article
© The China Quarterly, 2005

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The authors are grateful to the Australia China Council for awarding the Alice Tay Human Rights Award to Dr Xiaoyuan Shang in 2003 which made the investigation financially possible. They are also grateful to Professor Peter Saunders for his support to this research, Professor Morris Saldov for his valuable comments and suggestions to the first draft of the article. They want to thank all the staff members, parents and children they interviewed.