New Taipei City's Innovation to Safeguard Children

AuthorEric Liluan Chu
Published date01 September 2014
Date01 September 2014
Eric Liluan Chu is mayor of New
Taipei City, Republic of China (Taiwan).
He holds a doctorate in accounting from
New York University. He is former vice
premier, former 14th and 15th magistrate
of Taoyuan County, former legislator in
the 4th Legislative Yuan of the Republic of
China, former professor at National Taiwan
University, and former assistant professor at
Baruch College, City University of New York.
New Taipei City’s Innovation to Safeguard Children 557
Public Administration Review,
Vol. 74, Iss. 5, pp. 557–558. © 2014 by
The American Society for Public Administration.
DOI: 10.1111/puar.12235.
Eric Liluan Chu
New Taipei City, Taiwan
In 2011, a boy from a disadvantaged family was
arrested for stealing food from a convenience store
because he was hungry.  e Taiwanese public was
in an uproar over news reports about the child being
taken into custody.  is news motivated government
policy makers to ref‌l ect on key questions: How can
the government f‌i nd at-risk students in time and
provide them with immediate assistance? What if an
unexpected emergency happens in the family (e.g., the
mother has had a car accident or the father becomes
critically ill), and no one can take care of the child
with decent meals? What can the government do to
stop hunger, keep students from committing crimes,
and simply let students enjoy learning at schools?
New Taipei City boasts a multicultural society with
excellent education and welfare systems. However, is
it possible to operate government of‌f‌i ces 24 hours a
day, seven days a week to provide assistance, especially
during weekends and vacations, when students cannot
ask for help from teachers and schools?
Utilizing the Local Characteristics of New
Taipei City
New Taipei City is the largest special municipality in
Taiwan; it covers an area of 2,052 square kilometers,
has a population of 3.95 million, and is divided into
29 administrative districts. Moreover, Ne w Taipei
City has the highest density of convenience stores in
the world, with an average of 3.5 stores per square
kilometer. Yonghe District has the highest density of
all, with 118 stores operating in an area of 5.7 square
kilometers, averaging out to about 20 convenience
stores for every square kilometer.
ese convenience stores play an important role in
the lives of New Taipei City residents. Besides being
a convenient source of food and drinks, they provide
many other services, such as the booking and pur-
chase of movie, concert, and train tickets, copying
and printing services, laundry delivery, ATM services,
photo printing, and DVD rentals.  erefore, these
highly distributed 24-hour convenience stores provide
an opportunity for New Taipei City government to
reach out to its citizens in need.
Happiness Safeguarding Stations
e New Taipei City government cooperated with the
four major convenience store chains, totaling about
2,000 stores, to launch the Happiness Safeguarding
Station Program, of‌f ering immediate assistance to
hungry children and students 18 years and under,
beginning on the f‌i rst day of 2013. Without any
background check or verif‌i cation, help-seeking stu-
dents can submit forms with their names and school
information and then be treated to a staple food item
costing no more than US$2.70 (NT$80 [New Taiwan
dollars]) in any convenience store.
Afterward, the store clerk simply faxes the form to
the New Taipei City government’s Integrated Social
Safety Net one-stop computer window within 24
hours.  e student’s school is notif‌i ed, and each help-
seeking student is interviewed to understand and
assess his or her needs.  e school evaluation results
are then logged into the system.  e government’s
social workers review the results and, on the basis of
individual and family need, provide social welfare
resources such as f‌i nancial assistance, employment
matchmaking, tutoring, medical assistance, home
care, police assistance, and so on, approximating
the ideal of around-the-clock government of‌f‌i ces for
express services.
Features of the Emergency Pupil Assistance
ere are three main features of this program. First, it
relies on public–private partnership and cooperation,
with government, schools, and convenience stores
working together to keep students from being hungry.
e government operates the one-stop center and
regularly evaluates program results; schools conduct
awareness education and give counseling to help-
seeking students; and convenience store clerks serve as
frontline child protection workers by providing free
New Taipei City’s Innovation to Safeguard Children

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