We know that without systemic and policy change, the problems PathFinders tackle will likely escalate as the numbers of Foreign Domestic Workers (FDW) in Hong Kong (HK) increases from 390,000 to 600,000 by 2047.
To influence change, we engage with HKSAR Government Departments, United Nations agencies, academics, consulates and key local and international stakeholders to ensure policies and practices do not actively exclude or omit to protect the children and mothers we serve.
We believe with imagination, collaboration and commitment to strengthening protections for PathFinders' children, practical and affordable solitions can be found.
Labour Department: Points of Influence
Challenges like the legal requirement for a FDW to live-in during maternity leave and a lack of affordable solutions for employers to provide relief cover during 10 weeks of maternity leave, contributes to expectant FDW mothers being unlawfully fired, pressured to leave or resigning as neither the worker nor employer know what else to do.
Social Welfare Department: Points of Influence
Due to their legal status, many of the children PathFinders serves are marginalised. With no support, they fall through the gaps in the welfare system. It is only if they manage to enter school, that their progress and development is regularly monitored and/or they become eligible for support.
PathFinders has been dealing with a number of cases where mothers are unable, for various reasons, to care for their children; who then have to be placed in the care system. Once in the system, these children are often stuck in institutional or foster care with no permancy plan to secure their long-term future.
Placing a child in a safe permanent environment as soon as it is reasonably possible is critical in the best interests of the child, thus enabling them to realise their full potential. However, uncertainties over their immigration status, family support in the mothers' home country and international adoption protocols often hinder attempts to place these children in permanent, loving families.
In collaboration with multiple partners, PathFinders is working to strengthen the protection of all children in HK, regardless of their immigration status. In addition, we are calling for the creation and regular review of permanency plans for all children under the care of the Social Welfare Director until the child reaches 18 years old or is no longer in care.
Immigration: Points of Influence
Currently in HK there are hundreds of children born to former FDWs who are seeing asylum. Some of these children have been in HK for many years while they wait on the appeal process. This process is likely to speed up in the near future. With less than 1% of asylum cases being approved, these children, who have never visited their mothers' home country or speak their mothers' tongue, will, sooner or later, face deportation - often with little notice.
To support the mothers and children who are swept up in this process, we are strengthening our collaboration with key strategic partners, like the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and multiple HK-based NGO partners, to identify and assist these mothers and children while they remain in HK. In addition, with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and NGO partners in Indonesia and the Philippines, we are expanding the assistance and services available to mothers and children upon their return home, such as temporary accommodation and family mediation.