Wednesday, February 1, 2012

New 'small homes' for children needing help

A four-year-old boy was admitted to a children's home malnourished, neglected and abused.

Traumatised by his experiences, he was unable to speak or walk properly.

But staff at the home worked with the boy, showing him care and love, and managed to help him overcome his fear of adults. He went on to attend a special education school and even received a Good Progress Award.

To help more children who need specialised attention from their caregivers, the Government will pump $13 million into setting up six small-group children's homes over the next four years.
Two of these homes will be set up in August.

Easing kids' return to the community

THE Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) is looking at ways to prepare youngsters for life after being in a children's home.

One way might be to let them stay in a hostel to ease their transition from the homes to the community, said Minister of State for Community Development, Youth and Sports Halimah Yacob yesterday.

'We know that we need to have a strong bridge for the children who leave the homes when they go back to the community in case they need support,' she said.

The ministry is also considering extending subsidies to those who remain in children's homes beyond the age of 18 if they do not have anywhere to go to.

Madam Halimah was responding to a report in The Straits Times last month which highlighted the problems faced by such youngsters.

Currently, most children sent to homes stay for two to three years until social workers are satisfied that their families are able to provide them the care they need, or a foster home or relative can take them in.

But some remain even after turning 18, outgrowing their eligibility for MCYS subsidies. As of last Nov 30, there were 55 such teenagers.

Separately, the ministry has launched a pilot project to find out how well the children cope after leaving the children's homes.

The project involves 50 children aged between 14 and 16 from the Jamiyah Children's Home and Gracehaven.

Six months before they leave, counselling efforts are stepped up and they will be matched to community services such as befriending services and programmes offered by family service centres.
The homes track the children's progress for six months after they leave.

The pilot project started last September and will be completed by the end of this year.

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