Devoted to child protective work

Ms Carmelia Nathen says "child abuse has a devastating impact on children". "We must break cycles of abuse by undertaking early intervention and ensure the entire range of support contributes to their safety and well-being."
Ms Carmelia Nathen says "child abuse has a devastating impact on children". "We must break cycles of abuse by undertaking early intervention and ensure the entire range of support contributes to their safety and well-being."PHOTO: DIOS VINCOY JR FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Ms Carmelia Nathen
Director of Child Protective Service, Rehabilitation and Protection Group,
Ministry of Social and Family Development
Public Administration Medal (Silver)

For 14 years, Ms Carmelia Nathen has specialised in child protective work in the Ministry of Social and Family Development.

As director of the ministry's Child Protective Service (CPS) since 2015, the 47-year-old oversees matters of child abuse, custody disputes, adoption and young people beyond parental control.

She was involved in a fundamental review of the child protection system from 2010 to 2011, and helped shape key policies.

These include the placing of child protection specialist centres in the community, to tackle child- abuse cases earlier. These centres help manage moderate-risk cases, freeing up the CPS to focus on more serious cases, and take a more community-level approach to encourage families affected by violence to seek help.

Ms Nathen, who is single, said: "Child abuse has a devastating impact on children. We must break cycles of abuse by undertaking early intervention and ensure the entire range of support contributes to their safety and well-being."

She is also passionate about promoting the interests of children and families involved in court cases. Her preoccupation over the last decade has been to improve the CPS staff's skills in articulating evidence in court, to promote better outcomes for children.

She received the Commendation Medal in the 2011 National Day Awards, when she was senior assistant director of the CPS, but is still honoured with her latest award.

"It is very precious to me. It carries the recognition that the work we do every day to protect the safety and dignity of each child is valued and honoured."

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 09, 2017, with the headline 'Devoted to child protective work'. Print Edition | Subscribe