Progress on the Transformation of Out-of-Home Care Landscape
In 2016, there were 1,073 vulnerable children and young persons placed in out-of-home care (OHC). These children are not able to stay with their natural families for reasons such as loss or incarceration of parents, abuse, neglect or abandonment by parents. The two main OHC options under MSF’s purview in Singapore are foster care and residential care.
In 2014, MSF announced the need to grow the capacity of family-based care to allow more vulnerable children in care to be placed in families where possible. Family-based care is important as children are better able to create bonds with a consistent caregiver in families. Such bonds are crucial for the development of the child’s social, emotional and mental well-being.
Growing Capacity of Fostering
One strategy to grow the capacity of family-based care is to increase fostering capacity. Over the past three years, the capacity of fostering has grown through (i) increased efforts to recruit foster parents and (ii) the setup of Fostering Agencies (FA).
(i) Increased efforts to recruit foster parents
MSF has increased efforts to raise awareness on fostering in Singapore through organising roadshows, and working with community organisations, religious groups and private organisations. We have also reached out to the community through radio and television programmes. The result of these efforts are:
(ii) Setup of Fostering Agencies (FAs)
In 2015, MSF appointed two FAs, MCYC Community Services Society and Boys’ Town, to further grow foster care in the community. FAs will provide support for foster parents and foster children to enable the children to thrive while in foster care. FAs will also broaden the outreach and recruitment efforts of foster families. They are currently supporting the care of 150 foster children. MSF has also announced plans to set up a third Fostering Agency in the second half of 2017.
Need for more Foster Parents to care for (i) infants (under two years); (ii) children with special needs; (ii) children aged seven years old and older
Although more vulnerable children now have access to stable, secure and loving care in a family setting, we would like to engage more foster parents to provide care for:
i. Infants aged under two years
ii. Children aged seven and above
iii. Children with special education, physical or medical needs
Update on Safe and Strong Families Pilot
The Safe and Strong Families (SSF) Pilot was announced during MSF’s COS 2016, as part of continued efforts to strengthen family-based care and community support for vulnerable children.
The SSF pilot programme will offer two services, namely the (i) family preservation service (SSF-P) and the (ii) family reunification service (SSF-R).
Through SSF-P, children who are at risk of being removed from their families because of safety concerns will be provided with intensive support so that they can remain in their families. The agencies providing SSF-P are Montfort Care, AMKFSC Community Services and Kampong Kapor Family Service Centre.
For children who have been placed in foster or residential care, SSF-R will enable them to return to their families. The agencies providing SSF-R are Singapore Children’s Society, Chen Su Lan Methodist Children’s Home, Boys’ Town, The Salvation Army and Muhammadiyah Welfare Home.
Families and children in the programme have started receiving services since Feb 2017 and this pilot will reach out to 400 eligible families and vulnerable children over 3 years.