Family time to support children of offenders

ISCOS beneficiaries tour Gardens By The Bay.ST VIDEO: SEOW BEI YI
Ms Dorothy Kee, 24, Management Associate, staff of RecruitFirst giving a child a tour at the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest at Gardens by the Bay on Nov 19, 2016.
Ms Dorothy Kee, 24, Management Associate, staff of RecruitFirst giving a child a tour at the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest at Gardens by the Bay on Nov 19, 2016. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - She was pregnant with a third child when her husband was sentenced to jail over four years ago.

But production operator Madam Kamaliah Abu Bakar knew that she had to stay strong for her children's well-being.

"My life changed," said the 39-year-old.

"I found a job after not working for five years and looked for someone to care for the children."


Ms Dorothy Kee (left), ,24, Management Associate, and Ms Belle Wint, 24, Management Associate, both staff of RecruitFirst giving a child a tour at the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest at Gardens by the Bay on Nov 19, 2016. ST PHOTO: LIM YAO HUI

She was one of 60 beneficiaries of non-profit organisation Industrial and Services Co-operative Society (Iscos) who took part in a tour of the Gardens by the Bay on Saturday (Nov 19).

Around 40 in the group were children aged seven to 12, with one or both parents who have been in jail.

The outing was a project by recruitment company RecruitFirst to create awareness on making positive changes to the children of offenders and ex-offenders.

Research has shown that children of an incarcerated parent are eight times more likely to offend than the general population, noted Ms Durga Naidu, 25, a senior social services executive with Iscos.

This is why the group works to prevent inter-generational offending by focusing on the home environment, student development and building family support.

Added Ms Durga: "Family members may not have enough time for their children, who might lack a positive role model and parental guidance if the remaining parent is busy working to support the family."

Ms Jacelyn Chua, a group business leader for RecuitFirst, hopes that the outing on Saturday will help the children " not feel restrained by circumstances". Many of them are approaching their teenage years, which she considers an "age where they make or break easily".

For Madam Kamaliah, financial constraints was among her biggest challenges when her husband was behind bars and she rented out her home to supplement the family's income.

"It helped me to raise my children. Without the rental money, we would not have been able to cope," she said, adding that she previously took on a part-time job as well.

Events organised by Iscos - there are up to seven such outings a year - give her a chance to spend quality time with her children.

"When I come home from work, it's late and they are often already asleep. We don't have much time to talk about school and their problems," she added. She is looking forward to her husband's release next year.

"They are close to their father, who is a good listener, so it's very different now," she said.