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Opening Remarks by SPS Eric Chua at Fostering Open House on 2 Sep 2023

Type: Official Speeches (All), Official Speeches: Eric Chua

Topic(s): Children & Families, Protection from Domestic Violence,  


Members of the Committee on Fostering
Fostering Agencies and Partners
Foster Families
Ladies and Gentlemen

Introduction

1     A very good afternoon to all.

2     I am indeed very encouraged to see such a large turnout here today at our Fostering Open House. I’m sure many of you are keen to find out more about fostering. Your presence here today underscores the shared commitment we have towards supporting our vulnerable children and foster parents on the fostering journey. 

Appreciating Committee on Fostering and Fostering Agency Partners

3     First of all I would like to extend a warm and special welcome to our Committee on Fostering members and our Fostering Agencies. A big thank you to all of them, for their role in supporting our foster parents.  

Role of fostering in building strong families 

4     I’m sure many of you would agree with me that strong families are the bedrock of Singapore’s society. All children should have a good family to grow up in. Children who experience abuse, neglect, or are struggling with family and social issues, need even our love to help them overcome their trauma and to flourish eventually. 

5     I want to acknowledge our foster parents who are with us today. You play an extremely important role in ensuring that these children have a safe and stable home to grow up in. When the child’s home environment is deemed unsafe and there is no suitable next-of-kin to care for the child, having a family-based environment to grow up in while professionals work with the natural parents to stabilise the family has resulted in better outcomes for these children. Family-based care provides more individualised, stable and responsive caregiving which are crucial for the development of the child’s social, emotional and mental well-being. To quote a well-used phrase, an entire village needs to be put to work to protect these children and help them and their families heal.  Foster parents are not only caregivers; they are mentors, role models, and a big source of stability and love. Foster parents are instrumental in helping these children realise their full potential later in life, and I would like to commend and thank all of you – our foster parents – for your unwavering dedication and compassion. 

6     I want to specially mention two sets of foster parents who are here with us today and have graciously agreed to share their fostering journey with everyone – Ms Ameera and Mr Syed Faris, and Ms Rachel Lim and Mr Joel Tan.

•     For Mr Faris and Ms Ameera, their fostering journey started in 2018. They are foster parents to three children. While their foster children initially faced challenges adjusting to a new home, they have since built strong bonds with Ms Ameera and Mr Faris’ families, and they even refer to Ms Ameera’s mum as their ‘BFF - Best Friend Forever’. One of the couple’s best memories is celebrating their very first Mother’s Day and Father’s Day with their foster children. They believe that the time spent with their foster children will have a positive and lasting impact for many years to come. And we believe that as well. 

•     For Mr Joel and Ms Rachel, they first heard about fostering through their church and, since then, they have fostered 10 children in the last five years. They have fostered children as young as 3 months, and recently fostered a 17-year-old girl. They believe that while fostering may not be a bed of roses, the journey and experience has been one that is enriching and life-changing to the whole family.

7     These exceptional individuals have big hearts, and dedicated years of their lives to fostering vulnerable children, providing them with a loving and nurturing environment which in turn sets the stage for their future successes. Their experience and wisdom are invaluable, and I look forward to their sharing.

8     I would also like to welcome our ex-foster youth, Qi Ern. Qi Ern has been in the care of his foster parents since 2001 when he was just 4 months old, and still lives with his foster mother today. With their unconditional love and unwavering support, Qi Ern persevered and is now in his second year at the National University of Singapore, pursuing a degree in Chemical Engineering. Qi Ern will be sharing his story and how his foster parents have impacted his life. Thank you, Qi Ern, for being here with us and for opening your heart to all of us. 

Launch of Foster Parents Strengths Guide 

9     Fostering is a journey that requires continuous support, guidance, and empowerment. To help support our foster parents and foster care workers better, it is my pleasure to announce the launch of the Foster Parents Strengths Guide today, which can now be downloaded from the MSF Fostering website. The Strengths Guide will enable our foster care workers to work with foster parents to identify and build upon their strengths in the four domains of 
i) Safety, 
ii) Nurturing and Caring, 
iii) Personal Development and 
iv) Working with Others. 

This new strengths-based approach will help foster parents build confidence and motivation and support them to handle challenging situations with a positive mindset.

Encourage more parents to step forward 

10     As MSF continues to work with Fostering Agencies to ensure that our foster parents are well supported, we hope more married couples will step forth to be foster parents. In our community, there are vulnerable children who need a safe and loving home. They need the love and warmth of a family, the comfort of a stable environment, and the unwavering support from their carers. 

11     By becoming a foster parent, you provide stability during a time of uncertainty; you offer love and support when it is needed the most. You shape a young child's life, instil hope, and guide them towards a brighter future. The joy of witnessing a child's growth, the sense of fulfilment that comes from knowing you made a difference in someone's life - these are priceless experiences.

Closing 

12     In closing, I want to express my deepest appreciation to all our social service partners for your continued partnership and unwavering commitment. MSF has dedicated this year as the Year of Celebrating Social Service Partners. Thank you for working with us and with each other to build strong families and a caring society, and for making a meaningful difference in the lives of our vulnerable children and for supporting our foster parents.

13     To our foster parents, I thank you, once again, for your selflessness and the love you provide. I believe the Foster Parents Strengths Guide will further support you in your journey to care for our children. 

14     If you are here to find out more about fostering and are on the cusp of taking on this momentous decision, I believe you will find the panel discussion useful. I urge you to consider stepping forward as foster parents and opening up your hearts and homes to care for our children in need. 

15     To Qi Ern and to all our foster children, we wish you every success in your studies and all the best in your future endeavours.

16     Thank you, once again, to all who have joined us today. May our collective efforts continue to bring hope to the lives of our children and their loved ones.