Singapore Budget 2015: Other support services are available for unwed mothers and their families

SINGAPORE - Distressed mothers in Singapore may not have "baby drops" at which to leave their unwanted infants, but there are other support services they can turn to, Parliamentary Secretary for Social and Family Development Low Yen Ling said on Friday.

These include hotlines, counselling and residential services for expectant women to carry their pregnancy to full-term.

Non-Constituency MP Lina Chiam, who had previously called for baby drops, said such a service would prevent infanticide and abandoned babies: "Each child should be given the right to live and to prove himself to this world."

But Ms Low said at the debate on the ministry's budget that countries with such services have reported mixed results, with some experiencing the "downside of encouraging baby abandonment."

She also responded to requests to extend benefits for married parents to unwed parents, which were raised by Mr Seah Kian Peng (Marine Parade GRC) and Ms Lee Li Lian (Punggol East) on Thursday evening.

Both MPs had argued that such single mothers should get 16 weeks of paid maternity leave like married ones, instead of eight.

Reiterating the Government's stand made by Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Grace Fu earlier this week, Ms Low said: "We understand some single parents face financial challenges."

Like other vulnerable families who need help, they have access to a range of social support, including ComCare assistance, higher infant and child care subsidies and student care assistance, she said.

On Tuesday, Ms Fu told the House that the Government uses a slew of measures to fulfill different needs. So, while single parents who have never been married cannot receive benefits that encourage marriage, they can tap on others that help them care for their children.

These include Medisave grants and childcare and infantcare subsidies.

rachelay@sph.com.sg