Muslim couples learn about foster parenting, clarify religious aspects in webinar

There were 545 children in foster care last year, up from 535 in 2018. PHOTO: UNSPLASH

SINGAPORE - More than 50 couples attended a seminar on foster parenting on Saturday (July 18), to learn about fostering in Islam and clarify concerns they might have.

Participants heard from religious experts, veteran foster parents and social workers during the three-hour virtual seminar, titled Islam And Fostering: Webinar 2020.

They also posed questions they had about foster parenting. For instance, some women wanted to know if under Islamic law, they would have to wear their headscarf at home while caring for their foster children.

Ustaz Irwan Hadi, the deputy director from the Office of Mufti at the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis), said that under Islamic law they will not have to, as they are acting as foster parents for these children.

"Fostering is in line with the Islamic spirit of ensuring that children are protected, and brought up in a home filled with love and compassion," he added.

The seminar, held for the first time, was jointly organised by PPIS Oasis, a fostering agency by the Singapore Muslim Women's Association (PPIS), in partnership with the Singapore Islamic Scholars and Religious Teachers Association (Pergas).

PPIS Oasis, which was set up three years ago, has been supporting more than 80 foster parents by helping to make arrangements for them, clarifying issues and conducting events like the webinar on Saturday.

Madam Rahayu Mohamed, the president of PPIS, said: "PPIS hopes that the event will motivate foster parents in their efforts, as well as inspire others from the community to step forward and start their own experiences with us.

Last month, The Straits Times reported that number of children in foster care has increased in the past five years, after the Ministry of Social and Family Development's (MSF) efforts to place more children who have been abused, abandoned or neglected under the care of foster parents instead of in a children's home.

There were 545 children in foster care last year, up from 535 in 2018 and 362 in 2015, and these children range from babies to those under 18 years old.

Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Social and Family Development Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim attended the webinar on Saturday and said that he was heartened by the interest by community members in foster parenting.

"During these difficult times, it is all the more important that as a society, we band together to help those in need. There are children out there who could benefit from being cared for in a loving foster family," he said.

"I would like to encourage everyone to spread the word on fostering so that we can give each child a good start in life."

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