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Director’s message: Change to improve care for our children

I was invited to join the service of HKSPC early this year, initially on a voluntary basis. I assumed duty as Senior Deputy Director (Change Management) in early March, and after an open recruitment exercise, was appointed Director on 6 May. Given this important role, I pledge to do my utmost for our children’s wellbeing, together with colleagues and stakeholders, under the leadership of the Executive Committee.

Since the Children’s Residential Home (CRH) incident came to light, the Society has been trying to identify problems and find solutions. In mid-March, the Chairman of the Executive Committee and I introduced the Society’s new measures and plans at a staff briefing titled “Change to Improve”. We sincerely invited all our colleagues to join the endeavour to transform the organisation’s culture and restore confidence in the Society among our service users, supporters, regulators and the general public.

These few months with the Society have been the most challenging yet meaningful time of my work life. In collaboration with the Council of Non-profit Making Organizations for Pre-primary Education (CNOPE), we kicked started in late-March the 9-month CRH Reform Project to introduce fundamental changes to staff and facilities management to cater for the educare and developmental needs of the children in the Home. On top of government-subvented manpower, we now have 70% more child care workers to improve the staff-to-child ratio from 1:7 to 1:5. We have also deployed the same group of frontline staff to take care of a specific group of children, so that they can build stronger bond with each other. At the same time, we are hiring new clerical and administrative staff to give necessary support to the management so that they could devote their time to frontline supervision. The new CRH Superintendent (appointed in mid-March) and I, together with the Project Manager and Assistant Project Manager of the Reform Project, busied ourselves in tackling many big and small problems in the CRH operation, arranging intensive training for our new staff, and meeting to map out future development. It was hectic, and yet so rewarding.

Through the Reform Project, we will explore a robust organisational structure and service model to build a loving, trusting and safe environment for our children. The hard work and devotion of HKSPC colleagues as well as the Reform Project team brought to us by the CNOPE, and the thought that our diligent and professional work will help grow the children under our care, spur me on. Most importantly, I can now feel a positive vibe in CRH, and the children’s laughters give us the strength to keep pressing ahead.

Looking to the future, my colleagues at HKSPC and I will work hand in hand, learning from the past to turn crisis into opportunities. We must stay on course to serve the community at large, be it through residential or day child care, pre-primary education, school social work, pre-school rehabilitation services, or parental education and support.

I want to thank you for supporting and walking with us through it all. May past sorrow and tears nurture a more healthy, happy and safe childhood for our beloved young ones!

Director, Hong Kong Society for the Protection of Children
Subrina Chow
6 July 2022

Biography of Ms Subrina Chow

Subrina Chow was an Administrative Officer (AO) in the Hong Kong Civil Service for over 25 years, with experience in public policy and funding proposal formulation, programme design and assessment, project management, public relations and event organisation. She held 10 different positions in policy areas spanning civil service management, education, district administration, international trade relations and investment promotion, IT industry and e-government development, social welfare and labour affairs. In her last government assignment, she was the Assistant Director of Administration in the Chief Secretary for Administration’s Office, overseeing the Government’s liaison with the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) and the Ombudsman, as well as the administration of the Justices of the Peace system.

Subrina spent over a decade of her AO career overseas. From 2008 to 2011, she was Director of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Singapore. Her mission then was to enhance understanding and strengthen the economic relations between Hong Kong and the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). From 2013 to 2016, she was Director of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in San Francisco, and led the efforts in bringing investments into Hong Kong from the 19 states in the western part of the United States. (She was also Deputy Director of the same office from 1998 to 2001.)

Subrina worked twice in the former Education and Manpower Bureau. She was first involved in 1995 to 1997 in the drafting of a piece of legislation aimed at regulating the higher education and professional training courses conducted in Hong Kong by overseas and Mainland institutions. In 2002 to 2003, she was Secretary to the Standing Committee on Language Education and Research (SCOLAR), and completed a major review of language education policy that covers pre-primary up to post-secondary education and training of working adults.

Subrina gained exposure to the policy areas of social security, welfare and rehabilitation services, manpower development and labour affairs when she served as Administrative Assistant to the Secretary for Labour and Welfare in 2007 to 2008.

Before joining the Government, Subrina worked briefly with World Vision Hong Kong as a project officer in its Christian drug rehabilitation service and helped to set up a new residential home for young women. She resigned from the Government in 2021 to join UNICEF Hong Kong as its Executive Director.