In 2019, 12 government departments jointly released Suggestions to Enhance Social Care and Welfare on De facto Unsupported Orphans. De facto unsupported orphans refer to children who lack guardianship because of their guardians’ disability, prison sentences, illness, disappearance, or other reasons. Facing challenges encountered by unsupported orphans, different provinces have reacted by proposing strategies and launching their own programs. For example, Dream Transformation + Care Program is an initiative launched by the Jiangsu Provincial Committee to assist the 10,000 de facto unsupported orphans in Jiangsu Province.
In October last year, the Communist Youth League in Jiangsu launched the Dream Transformation + Care Program, which involved building accommodations for unsupported orphans. The program adopted a “1+3+6” framework: for every house built for unsupported orphans in this package, three pertinent aid programs and six care projects were implemented. The purpose was to provide tailored services for unsupported orphans. This year, the plan of the Jiangsu People’s Government is to build 5,000 dream houses for unsupported orphans.
Xiaoyun, a child who lost both parents has congenital heart diseases. Living with grandma in an old house, Xiaoyun does not even have a proper table to do homework. The Dream Transformation + Care program helped Xiaoyun by building a new place with improved amenities. Furthermore, there is a 500 RMB (around 77 USD) disposable fund for Xiaoyun and other children alike to tailor their rooms by buying furniture based on their needs and preferences.
To garner endorsements, people working on the project made a promotional video. The video frequently appeared in the public and major events beginning in 2020. A total of 5.8 million RMB were raised on virtual platforms, and including offline donations, the total amount of funds reached 8.5 million. It is envisioned these funds can be used to build more than 600 dream houses.
Fundraising campaigns are the primary way to raise money for the Dream Houses. At present, Jiangsu province has raised more than 18 million RMB virtually. Offline, several enterprises have contributed. Rsun donated 10 million RMB and pledged to build 600 Dream Houses. Hongda Construction Group agreed to build 300 houses, and China Industrial Bank Nanjing Branch pledged to build 100 houses. By early April, the province had raised more than 45 million RMB.
Building high-quality “dream houses” to give children a new learning and living space is only the first step of the project. The project also involves regular visits for unsupported orphans. As Si Yong, secretary of Communist Youth League in Jiangsu, noted, “the dream house is not only a physical space but also a mental harbor. What unsupported orphans need is not only financial assistance but also care and communication. Hence, a counsellor, a volunteer, or a professional social organisation is paired up with an unsupported orphan and visits the child every month.
Xiaoqin, an unsupported orphan, has a contact card with mobile phone numbers of counsellors, doctors, police, staff, headteachers, and volunteers from the Dream Transformation + Care Program. Among them, the counsellor, her tutor, and the volunteer visit her at least once a month. Xiaoqin’s father was diagnosed with cancer last year and Xiaoqin’s mother left a few years ago. Xiaoqin’s father is glad that the counsellor comes several times a month and brings gifts to his daughter every time. Although Xiaoqin does not share everything with her father, she communicates with the counsellors.
According to Si Yong, the Dream Transformation + Care program will function as a carrier to establish a public welfare model that coalesces government and social organisations to attract more professionals and voluntary service providers; this will hopefully lead more help and support to be provided to unsupported orphans.