SINGAPORE - A pilot programme is being rolled out to help families in crisis stay together.
It will provide support to vulnerable families to ensure children can continue living with their loved ones at home.
In cases where the children have already been sent to children's homes or put up for foster care, the Ministry of Social and Family Development and voluntary welfare organisations will work to help return them to their family.
Minister of Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin announced the Safe and Strong Families pilot programme on Tuesday (April 12), during the debate on his ministry's budget.
It will start by December this year and is expected to help 400 families over the next three years.
Describing the "family preservation" and "family reunification" services that will be provided under the programme, Mr Tan said: "In the coming years, my ministry will continue to strengthen these fundamental family relationships... Where relationships have problems, we try to help repair and preserve them. Where they have broken down, we try to minimise the negative impact."
He added: "Central to our work here is the interest of the children and their development."
Currently, there are about 800 children and young people living in 23 children's homes and another 350 living with foster families. Some of them are taken from their families because of absent, negligent or abusive parents.
Community agencies such as Big Love Child Protection Specialist Centre, Gracehaven and Chen Su Lan Methodist Children's Home already provide some form of family preservation or reunification support to these families.
However, the pilot programme aims to provide a more intensive and targeted home-based service, said Mr Tan.
Case managers will go to the homes of these families at least once a week to understand their needs and strengths. The managers will counsel the family members, coach the caregivers on parenting skills and connect them to community resources.
This support will be provided for six months for families which are struggling to stay together, and 12 months for families who have just been reunited.