Children who are abused, abandoned or beyond parental control would in future be matched with foster families where possible, instead of being placed in institutional care, Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing said yesterday.
"We have a very simple philosophy which we want to expand on, and that is believing that the best environment for our children to grow up in is a homely environment," Mr Chan said during a visit to Muhammadiyah Welfare Home (MWH) to celebrate its 25th anniversary.
He said evidence from overseas institutions and Singapore's own experience showed that children who grew up in a home environment fare better in life.
There are now about 800 children and young people in 23 homes run by voluntary welfare groups. They are usually referred to the homes by the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) or the Juvenile Court.
"We know that the welfare home is in many ways an artificial environment, and no matter how hard we try, we can only do so much within the home," Mr Chan said in a speech.
MSF will renew its push to get families to take care of these children and teens in the community.
However, it has always been a challenge for the Government to get people to be foster parents.
There are now 310 children under foster care and 254 foster parents registered under the scheme run by MSF.
Since its start in 1956, more than 5,000 children have been fostered by families. Foster parents get an allowance of $936 a month for the child's necessities.
Most of the children stay with these volunteer families for a few months until their birth families are ready to care for them.
These children need foster care as they have been abandoned, neglected or ill-treated, or because their parents cannot care for them due to reasons like physical or mental illness, or imprisonment.