A dedicated fostering agency to be run by the Singapore Muslim Women's Association (PPIS) has been set up.
It is the third such agency and part of an $8 million, three-year pilot scheme announced in 2014 to place more children in foster families instead of institutional settings.
PPIS president Rahayu Mohamad said yesterday that the new agency, expected to be up and running by the third quarter, aims to place 75 children with foster parents and recruit 12 new foster families over the next one to two years.
She was speaking on the sidelines of a Bedok Mall roadshow, held as part of the Ministry of Social and Family Development's (MSF) efforts to recruit more foster parents.
MSF's Senior Parliamentary Secretary Faishal Ibrahim said: "We are happy with the performance of the existing two agencies that we have, and we feel that the third one will help us to increase our outreach, to increase awareness, as well as deepen our engagement."
Ms Audrie Siew, MSF's director of children in care services, said that a dearth of foster parents is the biggest obstacle to the Government's target of having two-thirds of children in foster care be placed with foster parents, as opposed to residential care, by 2020. About two-fifths of such children are now with foster parents. There is a target of having 500 foster families by 2020, up from about 420 now.
"We need to have more families come on board, especially for older kids, teenagers and children with special needs," said Ms Siew.
The other two fostering agencies were set up in 2015 and are run by voluntary welfare organisations MCYC Community Services Society and Boys' Town. The agencies recruit and screen foster parents, and offer training and counselling.
Some of these functions used to be carried out by MSF, but the pilot scheme lets social workers from the fostering agencies, who are more familiar with issues on the ground, help families instead.
Dr Faishal said: "We want to increase the take-up of family-based settings for our vulnerable children. With this in mind, we will continue to look at and analyse, as well as evaluate, the scheme further."
The first two agencies now provide support and services to about one-third of the roughly 430 children who are in foster care.
The next roadshow will be at Clementi Mall from July 14 to 16.
- To find out more about fostering, visit www.msf.gov.sg/fostering