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China's Family Planning Army

In an attempt to improve child welfare in the countryside some of China's once hated population police are being retrained as child development specialists. Lucy Ash reports.

Now that China has ended its One Child policy, one group of state employees may soon be out of a job – the country’s hated population police. Hundreds of thousands of officers used to hunt down families suspected of violating the country’s draconian rules on child bearing, handing out crippling fines, confiscating property and sometimes forcing women to have abortions. But with an eye on improving child welfare in the countryside, there is a plan to redeploy many of these officers as child development specialists. Lucy Ash visits a pilot project in Shaanxi Province training former enforcers to offer advice and support to rural grandparents who are left rearing children while the parents migrate to jobs in the big cities. If successful, the scheme could be rolled out nationwide to redeploy an army of family planning workers and transform the life prospects of millions of rural children.

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