Parliament: Post-care support for youngsters discharged from Boys' and Girls' Homes to be extended to a year

Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee said post-care officers in the community will have a longer runway to build rapport and help link young people to community groups.
Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee said post-care officers in the community will have a longer runway to build rapport and help link young people to community groups.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - After spending one year in the Singapore Boys' Home for breaching his probation for rioting, Mr Jervin Tay, 19, might have found it difficult to adjust to life outside the home when he was discharged in 2018.

But his assigned post-care officer went the extra mile to help him reintegrate into society by regularly checking in with him for six months after his discharge.

She helped place him in a professional barista certification programme, and connected his family with a family service centre to ensure he had sustained support.

Soon, other youth home residents will enjoy the same support Mr Tay had, as the post-care support period for former residents of the Singapore Boys' Home and Singapore Girls' Home will be extended to a year, said Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee on Wednesday (March 6).

During this period, assigned post-care officers will support the youngsters by providing emotional support and affirmation.

They will also link up the young people with schools, training and employment opportunities to help them re-build their lives.

"Post-care officers in the community will have a longer runway to build rapport and help link youth to community groups," said Mr Lee, who was speaking during the debate on his ministry's budget.

The two youth homes, which are managed by the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), house youth offenders, young people beyond parental control, or those in need of care and protection. They can each take in about 300 residents.

Some former residents had said that they were unable to approach trusted persons for assistance after their discharge from the homes, said MSF in a press statement.

It said: "The extension of post-care support from two months to one year will better support these youth by smoothening their transition and strengthening their reintegration into community."

It will identify about 15 to 20 young people to take part in a pilot programme, which is expected to begin by the third quarter of this year.

This will be progressively expanded by next year to include all young people discharged from the two homes.

This move builds on the work of the National Committee on Prevention, Rehabilitation and Recidivism, said Mr Lee, who was addressing a request by Mr Melvin Yong (Tanjong Pagar GRC) for an update of the committee's work.

"We will help our youth reintegrate more smoothly into the community, and reduce re-offending."