The policies, strategies and activities relating to residential rehabilitation of youths are guided by 5 principles.
Principle 1: Providing Care with the Aim of Reintegration Back into the Family and Society
Youth justice in Singapore, as a whole, is premised on gradated intervention. The approach is to divert youth offenders away from the Court wherever possible. Placing youth offenders on diversionary programmes outside the youth justice system allows them to be accountable for their actions, and prevents disruption in other areas of development such as education. Placement in Homes is considered only as a last resort after family care arrangements and community-based options are ineffective.
In-care rehabilitation starts with reintegration in mind. The youths go through programmes and day-to-day guidance to improve their behaviour, pick up new habits and teach them skills to interact meaningfully with their families and others in the society. The youths would be placed on reintegration programmes once they complete their in-care rehabilitation.
Principle 2: Developing and Fostering a Safe and Supportive Environment for Rehabilitation
The youths have at least three significant adults whom they can turn to during their stay at the Home:
- A Youth Guidance Officer (YGO) who works with the youths Personal Mastery at the residential blocks;
- A Caseworker who builds and strengthens the children and young persons’ socio-emotional development; and
- A teacher who has undergone training with the Ministry of Education (MOE), and/or a qualified instructor, who supports the children and young persons in their educational pursuits and/or relevant vocational certification
The Home also adopts a relationship-building approach with the youths. By being seen as “trusted adults”, youths have greater motivation to change knowing they are supported by credible adults who believe in them and can fall back on. These help to create a supportive environment conducive for the youths’ rehabilitation.
Principle 3: Maximising the Strengths and Potential of Each Person
Every youth is provided with the chance to maximise his/her potential. The care plan and rehabilitation programmes are designed to be relevant to each youth’s circumstances to meet his/her needs. The target set for each youth is personalised depending on his/her risk and needs.
Youths are also put through formal education within MSF Youth Homes. The majority of those who sit for national examinations such as the GCE N and O Levels, attain passes above the national average.
Principle 4: Strengthening the Family
The youths would need to return to the care of their families. The MSF Youth Homes aim to strengthen the youths’ relationships with their families so that the families can continue to care for them and provide proper guidance.
Parents are encouraged to visit the youths from the onset of their rehabilitation in the MSF Youth Homes. Arrangements are made in place for parents who have difficulty visiting the youths. The parents and youths also go through programmes and activities to strengthen their bonds and learn communication skills. Where the opportunities present, family members are also invited to the MSF Youth Homes to witness the youths’ performances, programme graduations or award ceremonies. While under close support from the Homes, youths are also given home leaves to spend time with their families. In addition, the staff engage families through individual sessions to guide them on their parenting and communication skills as well as in setting and enforcing boundaries. Where necessary, families are also linked up with family service centres or other relevant social service agencies for additional support. These efforts help to strengthen the social safety net of the youths as they prepare for their reintegration.
Principle 5: Fostering Synergistic Partnerships with the Community
The MSF Youth Homes work closely with partners such as volunteers, social service agencies, schools, and employers to develop a network of programmes and services. These include corporate partnerships to upskill the youths to increase employability; volunteers with value-added skills such as tattoo-removal; community partnerships to deliver art and drama programmes, and mentors to guide the youths.