Debate on ministries’ budgets

Parliament: More help for those discharged from youth homes

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

After spending a year in the Singapore Boys' Home for breaching his probation for a rioting offence, Mr Jervin Tay might have found it difficult to adjust back into the community after he was discharged last year.

But his assigned post-care officer went the extra mile to help the 19-year-old reintegrate into society by regularly checking up on him in the six months after his discharge.

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

Other youth home residents are now set to receive similar support. The post-care support period for former residents of the Singapore Boys' Home and Singapore Girls' Home will be extended from two months to a year, Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee announced yesterday.

During this period, assigned post-care officers will support youth by providing emotional support. They will also help to pull together resources, such as by linking youth to schools, as well as training and employment opportunities.

"Post-care officers in the community will have a longer runway to build rapport and help link youth to community groups," Mr Lee said 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 and those in need of care and protection. They can each accommodate about 300 residents, and 158 youth were admitted to the two homes last year.

Some former residents said they had difficulties approaching people they trust for assistance after their discharge from the homes.

MSF said in a statement: "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 youth 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 on the committee's work.

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

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 07, 2019, with the headline 'More help for those discharged from youth homes'. Print Edition | Subscribe