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Child Protection and Welfare media queries

  1. Query on Child Protection Specialist Centres

    Reply from MSF Spokesperson
    Issued on 3 December 2012

    The Child Protection Specialist Centres (CPSCs) will be based in the community and adopt a child-focussed approach towards helping families with moderate child protection concerns. These cases will initially be referred from the Ministry’s Child Protection Service who will continue to handle higher risk cases. After a few years, we can expect the centres to take referrals other community agencies such as Family Service Centres. 

    The CPSCs will provide casework, specialised assessment and treatment programmes with home-based parenting sessions or counselling for children and their families. Clients include cases where there may be concerns of poor supervision by the parents and improper care arrangements for the child. Parents who recognise the protection concerns and are receptive to learning new methods of parenting to meet the needs of their children could also benefit from the intervention and services of the CPSCs. 

    The Ministry is currently selecting two Voluntary Welfare Organisations to run the CPSCs. Upon selection, we will work together to source for suitable premises. We expect each centre to be staffed by 15 professionals. 

    The estimated $6 million in funding each year to support the five Child Protection and Family Violence Specialist Centres will go towards supporting the manpower cost as well as other operational expenditure. 

    Our Family Violence Specialist Centres, namely Promoting Alternatives to Violence (PAVE), Care Corner Project StART, and TRANS SAFE Centre have assisted families in the management of family violence. Two typical profiles of cases assisted are as follows: 

    Case A 
    One of the 3 Family Violence Specialist Centres, PAVE, worked with a family where there had been physical abuse on a pair of twins and spousal violence. The mother had inappropriate child management methods, showing preferential treatment towards one child and using harsh physical punishment on the other. There was a lack of protective figures in the family, and spousal violence was evident between the couple. The children were placed in foster care to ensure their safety and well-being while the social worker worked with the couple. 

    The social worker helped the mother to change her beliefs and provided psycho-education such as watching out for her own warning signs and taking time out when she was angry. The social worker also helped the mother to enhance her parenting skills through education and hands-on guidance during her sessions with the children. The couple was also helped to resolve their marital conflicts and improve their relationship. After approximately 10 sessions, the children were reintegrated with the family. 

    Case B 
    In another case, PAVE worked with a family with issues of spousal violence and child abuse involving a toddler. While the child was placed in foster care to ensure his safety, the social worker helped the mother to understand the dynamics of violence and the effects it had on the family. Her husband received counselling from a second social worker who helped him to confront his beliefs about violence and take responsibility for his actions. He was responsive and made efforts to change. With the partnership of the family, PAVE, and the Ministry, the child was reintegrated to the family within a year. Post-reintegration, the family was noted to be happy and coping better. The couple were also able to work together and focus on the child’s well being, and the mother was appreciative of the help rendered during the trying period.
  2. Query on abandoned children

    Reply from MSF Spokesperson
    Issued on 6 November 2012

    There were a total of 14 abandoned babies identified from 2006 – 2010 (refer to table). 

    Year No. of abandoned babies
    2006 1
    2007 2
    2008 4
    2009 4
    2010 3

    MCYS’ Child Protection Service (CPS) would be notified of infants found abandoned. The child will be assessed medically and subsequently placed in the care of foster parents, pending further investigations from the Police and CPS. In instances where the family is located, CPS would assess their ability to provide appropriate care. Should the police be unable to trace the parents and family or if the family is assessed to be unable to provide appropriate care for the child, CPS would source for prospective adopters for the child. 

    Abandonment of a child under the age of 12 years old is a chargeable offence. Parents who anticipate difficulties in providing for their soon-to-be born child are encouraged to approach the nearest Family Service Centre and/or the hospital’s Medical Social Worker to seek advice and assistance. Expectant mothers who are distressed can also call the 24-hour toll-free MUM-TO-BE Helpline: 1800-686-86-23. For teenagers in pregnancy crisis, they can seek help from the BABES service through the use of SMS Helpline: 8111 3535. 

    We invite families who want to foster children to find out more about the Fostering Scheme at 6354 8799 or visit the MCYS website: www.mcys.gov.sg/fostering for more information.
  3. Query on small group homes and placement assessment units for children

    Reply from MCYS Spokesperson
    Issued on 24 October 2012

    The first two small group homes will be run by MCYC Community Services Society and Teen Challenge (Singapore) and will start operations in Jan 2013. Due to the needs of the cases that they will be admitting, the staff-child ratio is set at 1:3, which would allow for closer supervision and attention. The age group of these cases will range from 6 years – 14 years. 

    They would have undergone abuse, neglect and/or other kinds of trauma as well as having experienced early disruptions in care and poor experiences of attachment. The Homes will be working closely with the Ministry to provide specialised and targeted interventions to meet the therapeutic and developmental needs of these children and youth. 

    The Ministry is working out the operational details of the placement assessment units, and more information will be released when ready. These units are targeted to be set up over the next 2 years. Children admitted into the units will be coming in at a stage where they have experienced abuse, neglect and/or other kinds of trauma. Hence the programme will address their safety, developmental and therapeutic needs through structured activities and ongoing contacts with the family while enabling investigations into the alleged abuse. 

    Efforts will be made to return and keep these children within their family of origin or under kinship care with safety plans in place and where this is not in the interests of the child, alternative care will be explored. This necessitates a comprehensive assessment which includes interviews with the immediate and extended family members and professionals, to ascertain the risks posed to the child and develop a care and protection plan. For more complex cases, the assessment and transition to alternative care could take up to 1 month.
  4. Query on Specialist Agency, and policies for abused children

    Reply from MCYS Spokesperson
    Issued on 9 October 2012

    The Ministry is working out the operational details for the Specialist Centre for Community-Based Child Protection Services. The Specialist Centre will be a community-based service providing casework and counselling services specifically designed for parents and children who present with a moderate level of risks and needs. This may include cases where children are exposed to addiction issues such as drug taking behaviours of their parents and instances where there are concerns of poor supervision by the parents resulting in neglect. In addition, CPS may refer parents who are receptive to learning new methods of disciplining and meeting the needs of their children, to the Specialist Centre. We welcome agencies who are keen to collaborate with MCYS in developing this specialised service to contact MCYS. 

    There is a workgroup which comprises various stakeholders, namely the FSCs, children’s homes, NCSS, hospitals, courts, and MCYS staff, working on the Out of Home Care framework. This framework will help to articulate the continuum of care for children and youth in the system and develop guidelines for best practices in each out-of-home placement. 

    Whilst the workgroup is working on the framework, there have been some initiatives that are being rolled out, as follows : 
    • Per capita funding has been extended to youth in the children’s homes up to 21 years old with effect from 1 July 2012. The funding for cases under the fostering service also covers the youth till they are 21 years old, with effect from 1 Apr 2011. Previously, funding was up till 18 years old.
    • The set-up of new services such as the small group homes and the placement assessment units are currently underway. The small group homes will provide intensive and specialised services to a group of children and youth who enter the system with high needs due to the trauma they have experienced, whilst the placement assessment units will provide a safe care environment for children and youth while social investigations are still ongoing. The availability of placement assessment units address the current gap of children who are staying in hospitals longer than required when more time is needed to establish their placements options.
    • The first two small group homes will be set up at the end of 2012, whilst the first placement assessment unit will be set up in the first quarter of 2013.
    • The Aftercare Pilot Programme that the Ministry has undertaken with 2 children’s homes will be completed at the end of October. During the evaluation of this programme, the Ministry will also be exploring to provide resources for aftercare support to ensure successful reintegration of youth back to the community.
    The Inter-Ministry Workgroup on Child Protection (IWCP) held its inaugural meeting in February 2012. The Workgroup comprises representatives from the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports, Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Ministry of Health, the Attorney General Chambers, the Singapore Police Force, the National Council of Social Service, Hospitals and Voluntary Welfare Organizations. This underscores the multi-disciplinary and cross-sectional nature of child protection work which requires close dialogue and partnership between government and non-government agencies. 

    Since then, the IWCP and stakeholders have discussed the vision, desired outcomes and strategies to improve the child protection system in Singapore. 

    A workgroup, chaired by MCYS and comprising various stakeholders like Family Violence Specialist Centres, FSCs, Voluntary Children’s Homes, NCSS, MOE, hospital and Police had been formed to look into the development of a competency framework for sector professionals involved in child protection work. The workgroup aims to finalise the framework by end 2012.
  5. Query on Children's Homes

    Reply from MCYS Spokesperson
    Issued on 17 January 2012

    1. On the specialist agency: are there more details on the agency, how big it will be, when it will be set up?
      MCYS: The details for the child protection specialist agency are still being finalized and more details will be provided when it is set up next year.
    2. Representatives to the inter-ministry work group: Possible to find out who they are?
      MCYS:  The representatives to the inter-ministry work group, renamed the Inter-Ministry Workgroup on Child Protection, reflect the new mandate and role of the workgroup beyond abuse to the protection of children. The Workgroup comprises key stakeholders such as representatives from the Policy and Operations Division of the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Hospital Services Division of the Ministry of Health, the Attorney General Chambers, National Council of Social Service, and Voluntary Welfare Organizations.
    3. On abuse cases: 
      - What happens to a child who has been found to be abused? Can I find out the process in which the child is helped, and the time taken for each stage of the process? Which organisations get involved to help? What sort of cases are high-risk, and what are medium-risk or low-risk ones? Who determines this?
      MCYS: The Child Protection Service (CPS) takes a multi-disciplinary and multi-agency approach in managing and assessing cases of children who have been abused or at risk of abuse. To form a network of care, CPS works with various government and community agencies such as schools, medical professionals, the police, family service centres, community development councils, and voluntary welfare organizations to provide assistance and support to the child and the family. This system also ensures that children at risk of abuse, or who have been allegedly abused are identified promptly. The various agencies would notify CPS whenever they encounter suspected cases of child abuse. 

      Upon notification, CPS will initiate a thorough and holistic investigation and assessment into the case, focusing on the safety and care of both the child and the family. In some cases, before the investigation starts or during the investigation, the child may be placed in alternative safe care such as under relatives’ care, a foster home, or a children’s home due to the state of the child or concerns over the child’s safety . The preliminary investigation process would usually be completed within a month. Plans for intervention to ensure the safety and well-being of the child and any other family member would then be put into place. 

      When a child is placed in alternative care, CPS will arrange for regular contact between the child, parents and other family members. In instances where there may be possible distress or anxiety faced by the child, CPS will seek a prior discussion with the parents before the commencement of contacts. Therapeutic and counselling help would also be provided for the child and the family. CPS encourages parental involvement in making decisions on the child’s care, and upon the child’s reintegration with the family, CPS will continue to work with the family and agencies to ensure his/her safety and well-being. 

      Risk assessment is based on a multiplicity of risk and protective factors around the child and the family, and includes a consideration of the child’s vulnerability, the possibility of the perpetrator abusing the child again, and the presence of other family members or caregivers who are able to protect the child effectively. Risk assessment is also an on-going process as risk levels change as new and significant information emerge or events occur in the child’s and the family’s lives. 

      Families who have difficulty coping with the care or management of their child or where there is a family crisis or stresses impacting on the care of the child should approach the nearest Family Service Centre (FSC) for help or call ComCare Call at 1800 222 0000. Should the public have any queries or concerns regarding child abuse, they can contact the Child Protection Service helpline at 1800 777 0000 for advice or report the matter at a Neighbourhood Police Centre.
    4. On children's homes, how many such homes are there in Singapore and how many children are in such homes now? 
      MCYS: Children in need of care and protection may be admitted into 19 children’s homes which are run by voluntary welfare organizations. There are currently about 90 cases under a Care and Protection Order in the homes.
    5. Is there any particular "main" home that gets most of the children whether because of size or having more resources? 
      MCYS: No. Children are referred to homes according to the suitability of the home to meet the child’s needs.
    6. Is there a waiting list for children to enter these homes? 
      MCYS: The admission process of children to homes may occasionally require some time depending on the needs of the children and the capacity of the homes.
    7. Am I right in that a child who has reached the age of 18 has to leave the home? What efforts are made to help them after this? (Any follow-ups, or programmes for them to be involved in?) 
      MCYS: It is not true that a child would have to leave the home once the child has reached the age of 18. As of 30 Nov 11, there are 55 young persons above 18 years old residing in the children’s homes. When a young person leaves the home, he/she will be reintegrated back to the family or into society, and where necessary, the young person will continue to receive support services from community agencies in terms of schooling or training, financial and other practical forms of support.
    8. In your reply to my queries it's mentioned: 55 residents older than 18 are living in children's homes --- which homes are these? 
      MCYS: Homes which continue to care for residents older than 18 years old include Haven and HopeHouse.
    9. The reply also mentioned that there may be some waiting time for children before they find a children's home to take them. What is the average waiting time? (a matter of weeks or months?)
      MCYS: On average, it may take one to two weeks before placement of a child in a children’s home can occur.
    10. We heard that some homes may be overcapacity, manpower-wise and have had to turn away children right now. Is it true? Which homes are these?
      MCYS: Children are admitted to respective Homes based on the nature of case and the child’s needs. There may be occasions when certain homes are unable to admit a particular child due to lack of capacity till cases are discharged. Under such circumstances, the child in need of admission will be referred to another Home.
    11. Are hospitals used to hold some children till centres find space for them?
      MCYS: If the children were admitted to an hospital as part of the investigation process due to an allegation of abuse or neglect, the children would remain in the hospital until they can be placed in alternative care.
    12. Boys' Town is listed in the list of Homes for Children and Young Persons. Does it also serve as a general children's home or only for delinquents?
      MCYS: Boys’ Town admits children and young persons in need of care and/or support in a structured environment.
    13. For children aged 18 and older, do the children's homes continue to get the same kind of subsidies or support as they would for a resident who's a child? Also what's the usual subsidy or support that MCYS gives to homes per resident child?
      MCYS: MCYS provides per capita grant and Medical Fees Benefit Card to all eligible children in the Homes, which includes residents above 18 years old staying in the Homes under statutory requirements.
  6. Query on child abuse and children's homes

    Reply from MCYS Spokesperson
    Issued on 7 December 2011

    What is the procedure for child abuse cases that are reported? 
    MCYS: Please view the details here.

    How many children's homes are there for child abuse victims - suspected or otherwise? Could you provide a list of the homes? 
    MCYS: The a list of gazetted Children and Young Persons’ Homes which may/or may not be used for such specific accommodation purposes can be found here
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