More stepping up to be foster parents

More stepping up to be foster parents
(L-R) Ms Hazel Shen, 33, pharmaceutical sales officer, foster parent since 2013. She currently takes care of 2 foster children aged three and 15 months. Mdm Norlia Ali Marican, 50, foster parent since 2003. She has taken care of 5 foster children over the past 12 years and is currently taking care of 2 foster children aged three and seven.
PHOTO: Zao Bao

The number of Singaporeans stepping forward to act as foster parents for vulnerable children has risen by almost 40 per cent to 337 since the end of 2013.

It brings the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) closer to its target of having at least 500 foster parents in Singapore.

The figure was announced by Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin at the Foster Family Tea Reception, held yesterday at Resorts World Convention Centre.

The annual event honouring the efforts of foster parents in Singapore was attended by more than 900 people from foster families.

There are currently 350 children below the age of 18 under foster care in Singapore.

Also announced were the results of a survey conducted by the MSF among 246 foster parents earlier this year, which showed that almost half of the respondents found out about the fostering scheme via the newspapers, television or other forms of media.

One third of foster parents said they had little information on their foster children before placement.

One of the reasons for this is that children are sometimes removed from their homes for their own safety and subsequently placed with foster families on short notice.

"We recognise that for children, moving into a stranger's house, even if the family is caring, can still be a traumatic experience," said Mr Tan. He added that this led to challenges for foster parents, especially at the start of placement.

The MSF is introducing training for parents to help them deal with children with high levels of trauma.

The ministry also hopes that more will step forward to take in foster children above the age of seven, as well as those with special needs.

Ms Hazel Shen, 33, acts as a foster mother to a three-year-old girl with global developmental delay, which affects areas such as speech and fine motor skills.

The pharmaceutical sales officer, who also takes care of a 15-month-old boy, said that her foster daughter is otherwise healthy and normal, and she encouraged those considering becoming foster parents to step forward.

"If the family has the capacity to care for a child, just do it," she said. "You have nothing to lose, but the child has everything to gain."

Strays get new homes at Very Special adoption drive

One-year-old Freckles (foreground) was among 16 dogs put up for adoption yesterday at a festive event organised by a storage company.

Lock+Store managed to find homes for seven of the strays, which were referred to as "Singapore Specials" by company employees at its A Very Singapore Special Christmas Faire held on its Ayer Rajah Crescent premises.

The fair also managed to raise $3,000 for various organisations, including animal welfare groups Animal Lovers League and Exclusively Mongrels Limited, and Riverkids Project, a non-governmental organisation working with street children in Cambodia.

This article was first published on November 30, 2015.
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