Curious about foster care in Singapore? Here’s how fostering can change the life of a child.
Please welcome Vithi Vannan of Boys Town Fostering Services to explain how foster care works in Singapore, and why it can be incredibly rewarding for foster families and children alike.
Most parenting research studies emphasize the importance of a child’s early years. Early child development sets the foundation for lifelong learning, behavior and their health. How children stay motivated to learn, get along with others and respond to daily stresses and challenges depends on their childhood experiences.
We humans are hard wired to continuously take in information from our past experiences to guide us in our responses to our environment. From the time of birth to the age of 3, a child can perceive whether their behaviours are acceptable to their caregivers by observing their caregiver’s verbal and nonverbal actions. A child produces more than a million neuron connections each second, interpreting acceptable and unacceptable behaviors, analyzing their perception and forming lasting impressions which get wired into their brains.
What happens to a child who is abused or neglected at a young age? Can their perceived realities of acceptable and unacceptable behaviours be rewired?
According to an article published by The Straits Times in December 2019, 1,163 child abuse cases were investigated in 2018 — a increase of 30% from the previous year (there was only a slight drop in 2019). As a nation we have more than 500 children who have been successfully placed with foster families in Singapore. Foster families make up a unique and necessary component in our society, providing foster children a safe home, a loving family and access to all their basic needs and comforts.
Boys’ Town Fostering Services, an appointed Fostering Agency by the Ministry of Social and Family Development, serves infants to teenagers who have experienced abuse, trauma and neglect. Due to their disadvantaged backgrounds, our young clients may require medical interventions due to malnourishment, special needs therapies due to development delays, physiotherapy or speech therapy. Our professionals work closely with our foster parents to help a foster child to catch up with their peers in terms of developmental milestones.
The fascinating thing about human brains is that our impressions are continuously revising based on our recent experiences. Hard-wired perceived realities of acceptable and unacceptable behaviours can be rewired with a loving caregiver who challenges a child who thinks that he has no place in this world and that he is not worthy.
A foster parent has the extraordinary opportunity to challenge how a child sees the world and himself, and to gently point the child to a place where he can thrive.
As Nelson Mandela once said, “Our children are our greatest treasure. They are our future. Those who abuse them tear at the fabric of our society and weaken our nation.” Conversely, those who nurture the forsaken and abused repair the fabric of our society and strengthen our nation. Nation building starts from the smallest unit – building our young and disadvantaged children.
The power to rewire a child’s mind begins with you. Why not open your hearts and your homes today? Apply to be a foster parent.
Foster Care in Singapore: Everything you need to know
- Who are the children who require foster care?
Children who require foster care may have been hurt by abuse or neglect or are unable to be cared for by their parents who may be ill, incarcerated or have passed away. As a foster parent, the love and care you provide to these children in a family environment will be vital to their healing, growth and development.
- What is the difference between adoption and fostering?
Fostering is a temporary care arrangement and our goal is to reunite the child with their natural parents. Foster children remain the legal children of their natural parents. Adoption, on the other hand, is a legal process where an adopted child assumes the rights of a natural child of the family.
- How do I qualify to be a foster parent?
Foster parents come from all walks of life. What is important is the heart for vulnerable children. All applicants will undergo assessment to ascertain if they are able to meet the needs of these children. Generally, the criteria below apply as a guide:
- Resident of Singapore
- At least 25 years old and married
- Medically fit to care for children
- Minimum monthly household income of S$2,000 anda PCI of at least $700*
- Attained secondary school education
- Experience caring for children and/or with strong parenting skills
- Willing to ensure a child-safe home environment
- Not be dependent on the fostering allowance as a main source of income
* PCI = Per Capita Income = (Total household income) / (Total number of people in the household)
To learn more, be sure to contact Boys Town, mama!