The Fostering Scheme with MSF

We are approved foster parents with MSF (Ministry of Social and Family Development)


What is Fostering?


Fostering is when volunteer families provide food, shelter, clothing and love to children who are in need. The Fostering Scheme serves as an alternative care arrangement for children in need of a conducive home environment. It is usually a short-term arrangement to meet the emergency care needs of a child. In some cases, it may become a long-term care arrangement if the parents / guardians are unable to work out suitable care arrangements for their children.

A child on the foster scheme keeps his/her own identity and continues to be a legal child of his/her natural parents. This is different from adoption, where the adopted child assumes the rights of a natural child of the family through a legal process. '


What is the Current Situation?


There are currently about 800 children in 23 children’s homes in Singapore. They range from the age of 4-18 for boys, and 4-21 for girls. Children under 3 will stay in the hospital until such time when a foster home can be found for them. There are about 330 foster youths and children in 292 foster families. On average, 50% of the foster children stay with their foster families till adulthood, 20% return to their parents, 20% to their next of kin, and 10% are put up for adoption.


Who are the children who need foster care?


These are children whose parents are unable to care for them and there are other no other care options. Some have been ill-treated by their parents/family members, while others have been abandoned.

On a certain day in July 2013, a father abused his depressive wife again and their children, 3, 6 and 9-year-old had to be taken over by MSF. The mother was ushered into a women’s shelter. The two elder ones were placed at the homes, while officers frantically tried to find foster home for the 3-year-old. Within a matter of minutes, a family of five was separated. If there was no foster home to be found for the child, the child would enter into a children’s home.

The reality is that the number of foster homes available falls far short of the number of children who require foster homes.


Why Fostering?

Because...

THERE IS A NEED 
There are currently about 800 children in 23 children’s homes in Singapore. They range from the age of 4-18 for boys, and 4-21 for girls. Children under 3 will stay in the hospital until such time when a foster home can be found for them. HE CARES FOR THE ORPHANS The first thing that Jesus taught us to pray is "Our Father who is in heaven..." God's heart is to be a father to us. He says He is a father to the fatherless and He cares about the orphans. Because He cares so much about them, He wants us to be family to these children. 

HE PLACES THE LONELY IN FAMILIES
Psalm 68:6 - He sets the lonely (orphans/displaced children) in families. Why families? It is because just by being with a loving family, an orphan/a displaced child can heal from pain, learn to love, find new hope and dare to dream again.  

EVERY CHILD DESERVES A HOME 
We truly believe that EVERY CHILD deserves to be in a loving home. It is a family that makes a house a home. A loving home plays a vital part in a child's growing up years. It is where he finds his identity, security and belonging. In a loving home, a child is FREE TO BE.Free to joke, laugh and cry. Free to love, share and care. Free to speak, debate and argue. FREE TO BE FREE.     We pray that you will join us in opening up your heart and home to give these children a chance to be HOME. 



(read on for more)


22 FAQs for Christians considering Fostering as a Ministry

God’s Heart for the Orphans and Fatherless

1. Why should Christians think seriously about fostering?


A) We ourselves have been adopted into God’s family, so we can identify with those who need a family to belong to and a father to call their own.

“God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to go and it gave him great pleasure Eph 1:5, NLT

“God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law so that he could adopt us as his very own children.  And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out “Abba, Father.  Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.”  Gal 4:5-7, NLT

B) Orphans and widows are very close to the heart of God.  There is a whole body of commandments instituted by God for His people to care for the less fortunate. Israel is tasked to represent God in showing compassion to the fatherless and failure to do so will incur the judgment of God. Both the Old Testament and the New Testament scriptures inform us that helping the helpless is something God takes very seriously.

He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing.” Deut 10:18, NIV

"Learn to do right; seek justice.  Defend the oppressed.  Take up the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow." Isaiah 1:17, NIV

"Give justice to the poor and the orphan; uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute.  Rescue the poor and helpless; deliver them from the grasp of evil people" Psalm 82:3-4, NLT

"A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.  God sets the lonely in families." Psalm 68:5-6a, NIV

 “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27

C) Fostering is bringing the mission field into your home; love in action on a daily basis. Welcoming a child into one’s own family is a wonderful way of ministering to a lost soul together as a family.

D) A loving home environment is the best environment for these young children.
If there are not enough foster families, these children who may need to stay in out-of-home care for a variety of reasons, would need to live in a children’s home.  No matter how good a children’s home is, it will not be the same as living within a family. In a scenario where we are unable to take care of our own children, we would certainly want another loving and godly family to care for them.

2. How do I know if God is calling me to foster?

All Christians are called to care for those who are vulnerable and helpless, and this includes child who are in need of a home. As one foster father puts it, “If we truly live out the Good Samaritan principle, then when we see a wounded person lying in front of us, is there a need to ask – ‘Is it Your will that I be the one to help him?’  Or ‘Is it Your will that he be the one I help?’”  We don’t need to ask what is clearly on God’s heart, but we need to obey and trust that He will use us to help.

Fostering is not just a calling but a mandate from God.

Practical and Logistical Issues

3. How long does a foster child usually stay?

A child would stay for a few days (respite foster care), a few weeks (temporary foster care), to several months and even years. Some children stay with the family until they are 21 years of age.  

4. Who pays for school fees for my foster child?

MOE school fees are waived for your foster child.

5. Can I move my foster child to another childcare or school?

This depends on the estimated length of time the foster child is expected to live with your family.

If it is only a few days or weeks, it may be quite disruptive for the child to change schools. However, if the stay is expected to be longer e.g. a number of months or years, you can give notice and move a pre-school foster child into a childcare that is in a more convenient location e.g. nearer your home, same childcare as your own children etc.

However, for primary school children, it may not be so easy to change schools. MOE would need to give permission for a change of school. You can consult your Foster Care Officer beforehand.

The Foster Child

6. How should my foster child address me?

Your foster child can address you as either auntie/uncle or mommy/daddy (mama/papa).  It depends on how old they are; whether they already have a bond with their biological parent; or if the care plan for child involves them staying in long-term foster care or reintegrating back with their families.

7. How do I help a foster child who might be traumatised or who may have emotional problems?

Families that exhibit patience, empathy, consistency and stability will play a big part in helping a child recover from abuse or other traumatic events. 

8. How should I treat the foster child in relation to the rest of my children then?

Your family as a whole should treat the foster child with the greatest hospitality and love that you can afford. Treat them as you would your own child.

Explain to your own children why there are times when physical discipline is used on them and not on the foster child. It is not a question of preferential treatment but of appropriate discipline for the foster child.

9. What shall I tell my foster child about his/her birth parents?

This would vary from case to case, depending on the age of the child and the circumstances under which they were put into foster care. Some of them are already aware of why they were separated from their parents and others are not.

Pray for wisdom when speaking to the child about her birth parents. Be mindful not be put down or disparage their parents or family members.  As far as possible, our goal is to build the relationship between the child and his/her parents.  Most importantly, it is critical to assure the child that he/she is loved and deserving of love despite the situation he/she is facing.

10. Can I see my foster child after he/she is reintegrated with her family?

It differs from family to family.  Some birth parents welcome your continued presence in the life of their child and will allow their children to contact or visit you.  Other birth parents are simply relieved to have their children back, and would prefer to move on with their lives, without any further contact with you.  As foster parents, we need to respect the wishes of the child’s birth parent.   

Working with Other Professionals in the Child Protection and Fostering System

11. What do the terms “access” and “home leave” mean?


“Access” refers to the period when the foster child gets to interact with her birth parents and sometimes, even her siblings. For one or more hours, the birth parent and child get the opportunity to spend some time with each other or go for an outing together.  Access may sometimes be under the supervision of a social worker.  Home leave refers to an extended period of time where the foster child stays with his/her family e.g. over the weekend.

12. Will I be meeting the birth parents?

In cases where the parents are not hostile, most foster parents will get to meet the birth parents during access or when the child is to be handed over to the birth parents for home leave.

13. How should I relate to the birth parents?

Relate to them with love, compassion and generosity. Assure them that their child is being well taken care of.

Most of the communication regarding the welfare of the child will be done through the Child Protection Officer. Apart from the general well-being of the child, it is best to direct all questions that the birth parents may have to the Child Protection Officer.

Fears and Concerns

14. What if I don’t have enough love in me to care for a foster child?


We cannot love in our own strength, but with the love that comes from God.  In 1 John 4:7, it says “Dear friends, let us know love another, for love comes from God.  Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.”  We can depend on God’s supply and strength to see us through the struggles and heartaches that may come.

However, you need to believe enough in the cause to be committed.  By being committed to the care of the child you are already showing love to the child. Love “always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Cor 13:7). 

15. I am not a great parent to my own kids, how can I qualify?

No parent is perfect.  God can use our weaknesses and imperfections to touch another life and to bring glory to His name.  If you are committed to care for and protect your foster child to the best of your ability, if you have a teachable heart and are willing to learn new ways to care for children in need, and if you are willing to ask God for wisdom and guidance in caring for the foster child, then you are in a good position to be a foster parent.

16. I am concerned that my children will not be able to adjust to the new foster child in the family. How can I prepare them?

Feedback from foster families suggests that birth children generally adapt very well to foster children. They are in fact very good agents of comfort for the foster children, welcoming them and easing them into the new life with the family. We would advise you to have a good talk with your own children to prepare them for the changes to come. Explain why you are choosing to foster a child and the importance of fostering as a testimony of your faith. Tell them to expect changes when the foster child comes in, but through prayer and support, the family will be able to face and overcome any challenges that arise. Most of all, reassure them that the family will see it through together.

Preparation and Next Steps
 
17. What are the next steps if I want to foster?


Please access Home for Good SG at https://www.facebook.com/homeforgoodsg or www.homeforgood.sg  or call us at 97489777 for a Christian perspective on fostering and for support on this exciting journey.

For more information on the fostering scheme, you may call MSF directly (Tel: 63548799) and speak to an MSF officer and request for a copy of the documents that need to be processed.

18. What does the assessment entail?

The applicants and their household members will be assessed on their ability to meet the needs of the child. They will undergo medical and other screenings. Home visits will be conducted to assess the applicants’ home environment.

19. What practical preparations do I need to make?

Make sure that your home environment is childproof and safe. Prepare and designate a place in your home for the foster child to call his or her own. Ensure that there is adequate bedding and storage place for the child’s belongings.

20. How old should my children be before I start to foster?

Your child is never too young nor too old to welcome a foster child in your home. There is no “correct” age.

Children who have “foster siblings” growing up alongside them have great opportunities for developing empathy for others.

Support for Foster Carers

21. What can the church do to support foster families?


The church can pray for foster carers and the children they look after. It is a very fulfilling calling but at the same time, the challenges can sometimes be daunting. It is only through prayer that many foster parents are able to continue on this journey.

Church members can also offer emotional and practical help to foster families e.g. transportation, baby-sitting, providing meals etc.  They can be inclusive and welcoming to the child at church, even though the child may sometimes exhibit emotional or behavioural problems.  However, they would need to respect confidentiality issue pertaining to the child and their birth families.

22. What does Home for Good SG do?

Home for Good SG is a Christian network set up to promote fostering and adoption within the Christian community in Singapore.  Our vision is :

to make fostering and adoption a core ministry in our local church by

Being a support and resource group for Christian foster parents
Being intercessors for our foster children (praying for their needs)
Being “champions” for fostering in our own churches and the rest of the churches in Singapore

 to raise up a pool of 500 foster parents to meet the needs of the children in care in Singapore 
to offer to support families so that children who are in out-of-home care can be reunified with their families.

It is modelled after the UK Home for Good, a charity helping to find adoptive and foster homes for children in the care system. For more information on Home for good UK, please visit their website at http://www.homeforgood.org.uk/