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Singapore Government

Opening Address by Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for Social and Family Development and Second Minister for Health at Fostering Seminar on 13 August 2022

Opening Address by Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for Social and Family Development and Second Minister for Health at Fostering Seminar on 13 August 2022

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13 Aug 2022

Foster Families

Members of the Committee on Fostering

Fostering Agencies and Partners

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Introduction

1. Good morning.

2. I am very glad to see everyone. This is our first face-to-face fostering sharing session since COVID-19. I am encouraged to see many families stepping forward, learning how you can make an impact to the lives of children in need of care and protection.

3. One of the greatest gifts that we can give a child is a family, and a safe and warm home that they can return to.


Families as the Bedrock of Society

4. In Singapore, families form the bedrock of our society. Families have been and will continue to be our first line of support. They provide us with love and care, unconditionally, through the ups and downs of life. Strong families in turn nurture resilient individuals. Not only do they do well for themselves, but I hope too, that these individuals they will give back, as part of a caring community. Together, this makes us a society which is strong and a resilient nation.

5. This is why we have designated 2022 as the Year of Celebrating SG Families. And to do so, is a whole-of-society effort, where we recognise and celebrate the enduring role of families. You may have also seen it being featured during the National Day Parade. And we know that children grow up best in strong and stable families. This provides them with a safe and nurturing environment for them to thrive and flourish.


Role of Foster Families

6. Despite this, and our best efforts, there are some children who are unable to remain with their biological families. Because there are safety concerns, such as neglect or abuse.

7. This is where foster families play an important role, as part of being a caring community. They provide children in need with a safe and stable home environment. Foster families shape their lives in profound ways. By imparting values, moulding character, enabling them to thrive and grow healthily, like any other child would. And eventually, like their own children to fulfil their fullest potential.

8. Over the past 8 years, we have successfully increased the proportion of vulnerable children who are cared for by foster families. When we first started our efforts to transform the out-of-home care sector in 2013, it was just about 29%, 30%. More recently, in 2021, it has increased to 51%. Because more families are stepping forward. And we are deeply grateful to all who have stepped forward.

9. In fact, we have with us today two pairs of foster parents who will be sharing about their fostering experiences.

a.         The first, Mr Joseph Gan and Mdm Tay Li Ping, have been fostering since 2015. They have three biological children and have opened their home and hearts to care for two foster children. One of them they have since adopted. To support their foster child who was diagnosed with dyslexia, they had set aside time to coach him, and closely partnered his teachers to follow his progress in school. Because of their encouraging words and patience, he enjoys learning and going to school.



b.         Next, Mr Imran and Mdm Faizah. They have been fostering since 2017 and are caring for a foster child with special needs. With their unwavering care, and support from their foster care worker, therapist and medical professionals, their four-year-old foster child has made steady progress in his speech. He is now able to communicate with them in his own words. One of the most impactful moments for them was when he uttered his first words “Mama” at about 3 years old.


10. The fostering journey is not always easy. And is filled with ups and downs, just like in any family. However, many foster families have also shared that seeing their foster children grow and develop with their love and care motivates them. Every small achievement is celebrated together as a family. And they are committed to encourage and to nurture their foster children to fulfil their potential. I would like to commend all our foster families, including Mr Joseph Gan and Mdm Tay Li Ping, and Mr Imran and Mdm Faizah, for your unwavering dedication in supporting our children. Well done.

MSF and Our Partners are Committed to Support Foster Families

11. Next, I would like to assure all foster parents and families that they are not alone in this journey. MSF, and our partners, we are committed and stand ready to support you.

 

a.         Foster care workers from MSF and the Fostering Agencies, alongside with other professionals like psychologists, counsellors, medical and educational professionals, provide support and guidance every step of the way.



b.         Fostering Agencies also play a key role in growing the fostering community and readily extend their resources to support the foster families. This includes equipping families with parenting tips and advice, counselling services and therapy programmes. 

Increase in Fostering Allowance

12. MSF will also further strengthen our support for foster parents. To this end, I am pleased to announce that we will increase the monthly fostering allowance. We will increase the allowance from $936 to $1,100 for typically developing foster children, and from $1,114 to $1,500 for foster children with special needs. The increase will take effect from next month.

13. The increased fostering allowance is part of our comprehensive suite of measures to support foster families and children. Foster families also receive childcare, early intervention and healthcare subsidies, childcare leave, and support from social workers. We recognise that foster parents often go the extra mile in caring for their foster children. My ministry is committed to support them in their fostering journey.

14. MSF will invest an additional $1.5 million annually to support this enhancement. We hope that with the enhanced support, more families will step forward, open their hearts and homes, and join us as foster families to care for children in need.

15. You can also help by spreading the word on fostering to your relatives, families and friends.

Conclusion

16. In closing, I would like to thank the Fostering Agencies, our foster parents, and partners for being part of the fostering community. You have been instrumental in supporting our children in need.

17. As I mentioned earlier, I am glad to see more foster families stepping forward. This is encouraging. And we will continue to move in this direction. Because we want more children to experience the joy and warmth of a family. Correspondingly, this also means that fewer children will require placement in residential care. To support this continued shift, we will review the out-of-home care sector structure and consult our community partners.

18. This is because it is our collective responsibility, as a caring society, to protect our children and build the best home, not just for ourselves, not just for our own children, but for the future generations of Singaporeans. As foster parents and partners, you are part of that caring society. Joining hands with us, as we forge and strengthen our way forward. Uplifting fellow Singaporeans with less. Ensuring especially that no Singaporean, and especially, no child, is left behind. This is at the heart of Our Forward SG agenda to strengthen our Social Compact.

19. With everyone’s support, we can continue to strengthen the fostering community. Give every child a good start in life, regardless of their family circumstances. Join us, as we nurture to build lives together.

20. Thank you and I wish you a good session ahead.

 

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