|Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon speaks about the city's "Mom and Dad Happiness Project" support program during a press conference at the city hall, Thursday. Courtesy of Seoul Metropolitan Government|
By Lee Hae-rin
The Seoul Metropolitan Government has launched the "Mom and Dad Happiness Project," a set of support programs to lift the childcare burden of young households, including providing a 300,000-won ($227) subsidy to babysitting family members.
Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon announced on Thursday that the city will invest 14.7 trillion won ($11 billion) in the five-year plan to improve childcare conditions for working parents earning less than 150 percent of the standard median income.
The city will provide a monthly subsidy of 300,000 won per child for a household whose non-custodial family members, such as grandparents, take care of a child under the age of three for more than 40 hours every month.
About 49,000 Seoul citizens are expected to benefit from the 12-month subsidy by 2026 for the maximum term of 12 months.
Alternatively, families that use private childcare services will be given a monthly 300,000 won voucher that can be used at services that are in partnership with the city government.
An emergency childcare service that takes a sick child to a hospital will be available on a trial basis in five districts. Also, a guardian service to accompany children on the way to and from kindergartens will kick off next year with 500 staff members.
The city schemes are designed to develop infrastructure to make the city more child-friendly.
By 2026, the city will install a total of 66 "Seoul Mom and Dad VIP zones," equipped with a diaper deck, feeding room and resting area. Another 169 "family restrooms," which both females and males can use, will be built across the capital.
Public parking lot spaces for women will transform into "family lots," dedicated to households with a pregnant woman, an infant, or a family member with special mobility needs.
Also, the city plans to designate 700 "Seoul kids okay zones," or kid-friendly spaces that proactively welcome children and their families. It is the opposite of the spread of "no kids zones" here, according to which, coffee shops and restaurants deny the entry of children under the pretext of them causing inconveniences to other customers.
To encourage maternity and paternity leave, the city government will provide a maximum 1.2-million-won subsidy for those on baby break. Households with a pregnant woman, working parents or multiple children will be able to receive 4-hour housekeeping services a day.
The city plans to develop an online website that features the parenting support program's information and a reservation system for the above spaces, as well as parent coaching content, by August next year.