I have nothing but praise for the Ministry of Social and Family Development which, in partnership with the Social Service Institute, has recently revamped training programmes to support foster parents who are magnanimous in taking care of other peoples’ children.
Foster care offers children the opportunity to grow up in a safe and loving family environment. Families that get involved provide food, shelter, clothing and love to children in need. For children from disadvantaged backgrounds, foster care gives them a positive experience of family life which they may not have had in their natural family setting.
Foster parents have a decidedly tough job, needing to understand the specific needs and backgrounds of kids they take under their wing, and these include their dietary habits, their emotional needs, cultural backgrounds, religious beliefs and much more.
For parents who already have hands-on experience in taking care of their own kids, their willingness to care and support children outside their own family is truly a kind gesture that can transform the lives of children who lack a stable home for the time being.
In many countries, children who are abandoned become street kids, sleeping on the roadside outside restaurants and supermarkets in the hope that tourists who visit the country will give them money or buy them a meal and a drink.
In Singapore, it is heartening to know that there were reported to be 420 foster families in 2016, an increase of 73 per cent from 243 families in 2013.
The increase in numbers was the result of greater efforts to raise awareness on fostering, said MSF, citing how it organised roadshows, worked with community organisations, religious groups and private organisations, as well as reached out to the community through radio and television programmes.
Being without children, I would very much have liked to foster children who lack a safe and loving home, so who knows, one day when I can afford it, I might consider opening my home to a kid or two.
RAYMOND ANTHONY FERNANDO