Day cares to get more scrutinyIn response to a spate of child abuse and embezzlement practices at day care centers, which has shaken the country this year, the government yesterday announced a set of strengthened measures aimed at preventing such irregularities.
Following a joint meeting involving heads of related government ministries, including Minister of Health and Welfare Chin Young, and members of the ruling Saenuri Party leadership yesterday, the Welfare Ministry said in its statement a special joint inspection team involving the National Police Agency, the Ministry of Education and local governments will conduct on-site examinations at day care centers.
The Welfare Ministry continued in the statement that despite the expansion of child care support programs, in line with the Park administration’s embrace of a welfare society, “the effectiveness of the aid policy has faltered due to irregularities” such as embezzlement and child abuse committed by day care centers.
In Seoul alone, the number of day care centers that received administrative punishment reached 287 last year, 3.5 times more than the number in 2010 at 84, according to the Seoul city government.
“Depending on the severity of the embezzlement, the government will take action to temporarily suspend the business of a suspected day care center or permanently close it down.”
The authorities also pledge to disclose a list of day care centers found in violation of regulations.
“Identities of owners as well as specifics of their violations and punishments will be made public,” stated the ministry. The government also said the identity of a parent will be made public if she or he is found to have colluded with a day care center in committing irregularities.
In a bid to improve working conditions of teachers at day care centers, the ruling party and related ministries agreed to raise their salaries. Day center teachers’ monthly wage is 1.45 million won ($1,286) on average, only 67.8 percent of the monthly wage for kindergarten teachers, who make 2.13 million won on average.
By Kang Jin-kyu [firstname.lastname@example.org]