1 The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) has appointed Muhammadiyah Association as the fifth Fostering Agency, as of 1 August 2019, to grow foster care in the community.
2 Muhammadiyah Association joins four other fostering agencies: Epworth Community Services, Boys’ Town, Persatuan Pemudi Islam Singapura (PPIS) and The Salvation Army, which were appointed between 2015 and 2017.
3 Children grow up best in a supportive family environment. Foster care is a temporary arrangement where foster parents take care of children who have been abused, neglected or abandoned, giving these children an opportunity to grow up in a nurturing home environment. As at June 2019, there were 510 foster families and 542 foster children.
4 Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Social and Family Development, Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, said, “The fostering agencies play an important role in engaging the community to raise awareness of foster care. With the addition of Muhammadiyah Association, another valued partner committed to the welfare of vulnerable children, we hope to spread the word on fostering to many more families.”
5 On supporting foster parents, Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal said, “We are grateful to our foster parents who have opened their hearts and homes to our vulnerable children. With the recent passing of the Children and Young Persons (Amendment) Bill in Parliament, we have stepped up our efforts to give better support to foster parents by extending childcare leave benefits to them. We hope that more families will step forward to care for our vulnerable children.”
6 As part of the on-going outreach efforts, there will be fostering roadshows at Clementi Mall from 6 to 8 September 2019 and at Wisma Geylang Serai on 8 September 2019. Members of the public who are interested to find out more about fostering can visit the roadshows. For details, please refer to www.msf.gov.sg/fostering.
ANNEX A: ABOUT FOSTERING
Fostering in Singapore
The MSF Fostering Service administers the Fostering Scheme for vulnerable children and young persons below the age of 18. Foster families provide safety, stability and a shelter for children who are abused, neglected and abandoned. Foster Care is a temporary arrangement which allows them to benefit from a nurturing home environment that facilitates their growth and enables them to fulfil their potential. The end goal is to reunite the foster children with their natural families, once they are assessed to be able to care for them.
Progress of the Out-of-Home Care Landscape
As at June 2019, there were about 1,150 vulnerable children and young persons placed in Out-of-Home Care (OHC). These children are not able to stay with their natural families due to abuse, neglect or abandonment. The two main care options in Singapore are foster care and residential care.
In 2014, MSF announced a shift to grow the capacity of family-based care. Since then, the pool of foster parents has expanded significantly and as at June 2019, there were 510 foster families and 542 foster children. This is the result of stepped-up recruitment and increased partnership with the community over the past few years.
MSF continues to publicise the Fostering Scheme through the media, roadshows, booths at community events and distribution of collaterals. We also work with various organisations such as community and social service agencies (SSAs), healthcare and government organisations, to raise awareness of the Fostering Scheme through lunchtime talks and other avenues.
Criteria to be Foster Parents
Our foster families offer a safe and loving home environment to our vulnerable children. The most important criteria for a foster parent would be love for children and the desire to help them in their time of need. Among others, applicants must be a resident of Singapore, be at least 25 years old and married, and they must be medically fit. For the full list of criteria please visit www.msf.gov.sg/fostering/pages/criteria-for-foster-parents.aspx.
Equipping Foster Families
Foster Care Officers offer support and advice to foster parents through regular home visits and telephone contact. In partnership with the Social Service Institute (SSI), training is conducted on a regular basis to equip foster parents with the relevant skills to care for their foster children. Our 24-hour hotline service allows foster parents to contact their Foster Care Officer during an emergency.
Upon being placed with a child, foster families receive a regular fostering allowance. This allowance helps to defray the costs of caring for a foster child. These expenditures would include school fees, transport fees, daily school allowance, textbooks, tuition fees, meals and clothing. A team of professionals, including counsellors and psychologists, also journey alongside foster parents to provide them with the support they need.
ANNEX B: ADDITIONAL INFO ON FOSTERING AGENCIES
About Muhammadiyah Association (MA)
With over 60 years of service to the community through various activities in education, health, rehabilitation and community, MA has forged strong connections with groups of professionals and individuals in the Malay-Muslim community who share their values and beliefs. Since 1989, Muhammadiyah Welfare Home (an institution of MA) has been providing holistic rehabilitation programmes to reintegrate more than 1,000 children and youths at-risk back to their families and the community.
About Boys’ Town (BT)
BT is a charity started in 1948 by the Brothers of St. Gabriel to help children and youth in need. The charity provides residential care, fostering, adventure therapy, youth outreach and other community and school-based programmes and services. Their beneficiaries are children and youth up to the age of 21. They come from disadvantaged and disengaged families and may have faced hardship resulting from difficult home situations, financial struggles, abandonment and abuse. Through programmes and services, the children and youth are equipped with the skills they need to become responsible and contributing members of society.
About Epworth Community Services (Epworth)
Epworth helps at-risk children and youth from needy and disadvantaged families in their educational, social, emotional and moral development. Their passion and goal is to create a better world for children and youths so they can nurture and develop their potential. Epworth is a non-profit organisation that supports disadvantaged children and youths. Epworth was formerly known as MCYC Community Services Society. It was first instituted in 2001 as a joint project of Barker Road Methodist Church and the Methodist Welfare Services, called the Methodist Children and Youth Centre.
About Persatuan Pemudi Islam Singapura (PPIS)
Founded in 1952, PPIS or Singapore Muslim Women’s Association is a non-profit organisation focused on community services. It is dedicated to working with women of all ages in carrying out their multiple roles in society. PPIS runs three core community services, namely, Family Services, Student Care and Early Childhood Education (ECE). With 16 centres islandwide, the services work together to provide a quality and holistic support as well as developmental programmes for women and their families.
About The Salvation Army (TSA)
TSA’s work in Singapore was established in 1935 to serve the underprivileged in the community. It runs a network of social services including youth and children services, family support services, services for families who are incarcerated, childcare and student care centres, a nursing home and day centres for seniors. In their work with vulnerable children and families, TSA specialises in the running of residential services as well as family reunification work.