4 more schools to make deputyship application easier for parents of special needs people

SINGAPORE - Sometimes, parents of special needs children run into roadblocks. Their adult child might need to open a bank account because he has found a job, but he cannot because he lacks the mental capacity to do so and they cannot do it for him because they have not been appointed as his deputy.

To avoid situations like this, the Government is tweaking forms and processes so it will be easier for parents to apply to be their special needs child's deputy right before he graduates from school.

A pilot the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) rolled out in 2015 at schools run by the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled Singapore (Minds) has been extended to four more schools.

Under this pilot, students about to graduate from special education (Sped) schools will have their mental capacity evaluated by school psychologists. Parents will then be invited for a deputyship briefing with pro-bono lawyers who can help them fill in forms and make court applications.

The entire process is estimated to take two to three months and cost just approximately $250 in court fees.

Without this programme, parents would have to pay $3,000 to $9,000 for legal fees, and a few hundred for a formal medical report.

The programme has replaced the formal medical report with a standardised mental capacity assessment form that schools psychologists will be trained to use.

The assessment will advise parents of the child's needs: If he can manage his own finances, or would need help applying for travel documents, and if he can sign contracts or apply for Government benefits.

Psychologists from the four Sped schools added to the programme were trained to use the new form on Wednesday (May 17).

MSF intends to roll this programme out to another three Sped schools next year, and eventually to also reach adult institutions so parents of adults with special needs can easily apply for deputyship as well.