60 Years of Fostering in Singapore
Established in 1956, the Ministry of Social and Family Development’s (MSF) Foster Care Service celebrates its 60th year. The celebration is themed “60 Years of Touching Lives” where MSF marks and appreciates foster families for the important role they play. Over the past 60 years, the foster families have made positive impact in the lives of over 5,500 foster children.
Today, there are 420 children on MSF’s Fostering Scheme cared for by about 400 foster parents. Foster children are usually vulnerable children who have been abandoned, neglected, abused or whose parents or guardians are of ill-health and cannot look after them. Under the Scheme, foster families provide caring homes to these children, and offer them an experience of positive family life which they may not have had in their natural family setting. Recently, in February 2015, MSF appointed two Fostering Agencies, MCYC Community Services Society and Boys’ Town, to further grow fostering in the community.
Foster Care Week (5 – 11 September 2016)
As part of the celebrations, MSF has launched the inaugural Foster Care Week (FCW). FCW is a week-long celebration of foster care, to raise awareness of foster care and encourage families to be part of the fostering movement in Singapore. This year’s FCW is anchored by a flagship roadshow at Jurong Point, together with celebratory activities for the public at four different locations. Two MSF-appointed Fostering Agencies, MCYC and Boys' Town are organising roadshows at Seletar Mall and Tampines One respectively. The fourth is located at HDB Hub.
To mark this milestone, a commemorative book featuring the journey of fostering through the years will also be produced. It will be peppered with recipes and stories from foster families and showcase how fostering has transformed the lives of the foster children and families. The cooking demonstration conducted this afternoon at Jurong Point offers a preview of some of the recipes and stories that will be featured in the commemorative book. The commemorative book will be launched at the 60th Anniversary Celebration Party on 18 November 2016.
MSF- Social Service Institute (SSI) Partnership
Since January 2016, MSF has partnered the SSI to revamp training programmes for all foster parents and Enable-a-Family (EAF) volunteers. This partnership brought together SSI’s capability in course development and training and MSF’s expertise in foster care work, to improve the quality of foster parent training. This is in line with MSF’s plans to develop fostering as the key pillar in the out-of-home care sector for children in need.
Once foster parents have been approved, they sign up for induction training. This training will cover basic topics to help foster parents understand foster children better such as an overview of the child welfare system, the importance of attachment for children, the impact of trauma on children and managing contacts with birth families. After completing the induction course, they progress to core training which further equips them with the knowledge and skills to care for foster children including understanding children with special needs, managing challenging behaviours and building resilience in children.
Experienced foster parents can also sign up for a range of other courses such as Triple P Parenting Programme, Special Needs Training and Trauma-informed Support Group. Throughout their fostering journey, foster parents are encouraged to participate in support groups, where they can discuss issues related to foster care and provide peer support to one another.
Since January 2016, about 145 foster parents have participated in 15 runs of different training programmes. MSF aims to conduct the induction and core training for foster parents to attend within one year of becoming an approved foster parent. MSF and SSI will continue to do more to meet the training needs of foster parents. At least 10 more elective programmes covering topics such as parenting teenagers, working with birth parents and cyber-wellness will be available in 2017.
|Foster Care Week
|Minggu Skim Keluarga Titipan
|Social Service Institute
|Institut Khidmat Sosial
|Enable-A-Family (EAF) Volunteers
|Skim Sukarela 'Enable A Family'
|Sokongan kumpulan keluarga titipan
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
- What are the range of courses that foster parents can sign up for today?
When foster parents first join the Fostering Scheme, they will attend the basic induction and core courses which cover essential knowledge and skills about fostering, such as what constitutes the role of a foster parent and understanding the trauma that foster children have gone through. They can then choose to attend specialised courses such as Positive Parenting Programme (or Triple P for short) and support groups that provide additional in-depth support for foster parents to help them better care for their foster children. On top of all these, elective training courses will be available from 2017 and will cover topics such as parenting teenagers, working with birth parents and cyber-wellness. All these training courses are open to foster parents managed by both MSF as well as the two MSF-appointed Fostering Agencies.
- What is covered under the induction course and core training?
The induction course covers basic topics to help foster parents to better understand foster children, such as the importance of attachment, impact of trauma on children and ways of supporting children’s contacts with their birth families. Once foster parents have completed the induction course, they will sign up for the core training which further equips foster parents with the knowledge and skills to care for foster children. This includes topics such as caring for children with special needs, managing challenging behaviours of children and building resilience in children.
- How do these new courses differ from the previous training courses?
SSI’s expertise in curriculum development and training has strengthened the pedagogy of the courses and made the revamped curriculum more learner-friendly. The courses are more interactive with case studies and group activities to engage participants and enhance their understanding of the content. The courses are also conducted in a smaller group setting of up to 30 participants per session.
- How have participants responded to the new curriculum?
The feedback for the new curriculum has been positive. All participants agree that the training courses are relevant and provide them with useful skills and knowledge. Most participants also agree that the trainers are engaging during the training. What many participants like about the training are the case studies and group discussions which aid their learning. They also enjoy the sharing of experiences by other foster parents as it allows them to learn from one another. The foster parents felt that the new training programmes helped them to better understand what foster care is about, and how to better care for the foster children.
Many course participants have highlighted that SSI’s central location has made it more convenient for them to attend the training and its ample training rooms provide a conducive environment for learning.
- Tell me more about the support groups.
Support groups serve as a platform for foster parents to come together to discuss issues of concern and provide peer support. The purpose of the support group is to encourage foster parents to learn from each other, share resources and also to empower each other in their fostering journey. Foster parents who have completed the Induction and Core training are encouraged to join a support group.
Each run of the support group consists of 5 sessions, with about 6 to 10 foster parents attending each session of 4 hours. Foster parents can share their experiences and bring up any issues pertaining to foster care to discuss with the group. Facilitators will help to guide the discussion.
- What are elective training courses?
Elective training is open to all foster parents who have completed the Induction and Core training. EAF volunteers who have completed the Induction training can also sign up for the elective training. Foster parents are strongly encouraged to attend at least one session every year. Together with their Foster Care Officers either in MSF or the Fostering Agencies, foster parents can select the topics that are most helpful for the care of their particular foster children. About 10 more elective programmes covering topics such as parenting teenagers, working with birth parents and cyber-wellness will be available in 2017.