The number of Singaporeans stepping forward to act as foster parents for vulnerable children has risen by almost 40 per cent to 337 since the end of 2013.
It brings the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) closer to its target of having at least 500 foster parents in Singapore.
The figure was announced by Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin at the Foster Family Tea Reception, held yesterday at Resorts World Convention Centre.
The annual event honouring the efforts of foster parents in Singapore was attended by more than 900 people from foster families.
JUST DO IT
You have nothing to lose, but the child has everything to gain.
MS HAZEL SHEN, a foster mother
There are currently 350 children below the age of 18 under foster care in Singapore.
Also announced were the results of a survey conducted by the MSF among 246 foster parents earlier this year, which showed that almost half of the respondents found out about the fostering scheme via the newspapers, television or other forms of media.
One third of foster parents said they had little information on their foster children before placement.
One of the reasons for this is that children are sometimes removed from their homes for their own safety and subsequently placed with foster families on short notice.
"We recognise that for children, moving into a stranger's house, even if the family is caring, can still be a traumatic experience," said Mr Tan. He added that this led to challenges for foster parents, especially at the start of placement.
The MSF is introducing training for parents to help them deal with children with high levels of trauma.
The ministry also hopes that more will step forward to take in foster children above the age of seven, as well as those with special needs.
Ms Hazel Shen, 33, acts as a foster mother to a three-year-old girl with global developmental delay, which affects areas such as speech and fine motor skills.
The pharmaceutical sales officer, who also takes care of a 15-month-old boy, said that her foster daughter is otherwise healthy and normal, and she encouraged those considering becoming foster parents to step forward.
"If the family has the capacity to care for a child, just do it," she said. "You have nothing to lose, but the child has everything to gain."