Committee of Supply debate: Ministry of Social and Family Development

More children get to live with foster families

Four out of every 10 children who were unable to live with their own families last year were cared for by foster families.

In 2013, only three out of 10 were under foster care. The rest were placed in children's homes.

Over the past three years, the Ministry of Social and Family Development has been trying to recruit and better support foster parents so that fewer children end up in institutions.

The thinking behind it is that children grow up best in a familial environment.

"Family-based care is important as children are better able to create bonds with a consistent caregiver in families.

"Such bonds are crucial for the development of the child's social, emotional and mental well-being," said a Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) spokesman.

Yesterday, MSF Parliamentary Secretary Faishal Ibrahim gave updated numbers on children under foster care.

Last year, 430 were under foster care, compared with 309 in 2013. Another 643 children lived in children's homes last year, a drop from 749 in 2013.

These children cannot live with their own families as they have been abandoned, neglected or abused by their parents, or because their parents cannot care for them due to imprisonment or illness.

In 2014, MSF announced an $8 million, three-year pilot scheme to boost the foster-care system by having dedicated fostering agencies to support parents in better caring for foster children.

Two agencies have since been set up and a third will be ready later this year.

MSF hopes more parents will come forward to provide care for infants who are aged below two, children who are seven and above, and those with special educational, physical or medical needs. These are the ones who may have a harder time securing foster families.

To find out more about fostering, call 6354-8799 or visit www.msf.gov.sg/fostering.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 09, 2017, with the headline 'More children get to live with foster families'. Print Edition | Subscribe