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Homesingapore98% of cases investigated by Child Protective Services resulted in children reunited,...

98% of cases investigated by Child Protective Services resulted in children reunited, staying with parents

SINGAPORE: About 98 per cent of cases investigated by the Child Protective Service (CPS) resulted in children staying with their parents or being reunited with them after being removed.

Some of them are still in the process of being reunited with their parents, said the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) on Tuesday (Nov 7) in response to CNA’s queries.

In cases where the child remains at home with their parents, a safety plan is put in place. A safety plan may involve people outside the family – such as a relative, neighbour or the school – visiting the family regularly.

On Monday, Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli said in response to a question from MP Louis Ng (PAP-Nee Soon) that about 2 per cent of cases investigated by the CPS resulted in the child being unable to return home as their family of origin was assessed to be unfit to safely care for the child.

The reasons these children are unable to be reunited with their families of origin include their parents’ chronic incarceration, serious mental health conditions of their parents, or the parents’ unwillingness to provide a safe environment for their child, even when offered intervention and support by professionals.

In a separate reply on Tuesday, Mr Masagos said a child in alternative care will be returned to their family only after safety and risk concerns have been addressed through interventions, and the family has shown “positive progress” towards reunification.

The CPS investigates cases involving serious abuse or neglect of children and young people.

According to the latest data available, the number of cases investigated by the CPS has risen in recent years – from 415 cases in 2011 to 2,141 cases in 2021.

Nearly 800 cases in 2021 were investigated for physical abuse, and more than 440 cases for sexual abuse.

FOSTER CARE SYSTEM

The foster care system has come under the spotlight after a recent spate of child abuse cases came before the courts this year.

The most recent high-profile case involved a two-year-old victim known as Umaisyah, whose charred remains were found in a metal pot. Her father, a 35-year-old Singaporean, was sentenced last month to 21-and-a-half years in jail and 18 strokes of the cane for killing her.

Umaisyah was placed in foster care in November 2011 when she was three to four months old, as her father had been detained in a drug rehabilitation centre and her mother was deemed unable to take care of her.

She was returned to her parents’ custody in June 2013, and the girl was abused until her death in March 2014. Her killing went undiscovered for more than five years.

Questions were raised online about how she may have fallen through the cracks. MSF previously said it is unable to provide more information on the specific case as her mother’s case is pending before the courts.

Related:

Timeline: Killing of 2-year-old girl that went undiscovered for years, her remains left in a pot

Commentary: Killed by her father – remember Umaisyah’s name as we learn lessons from her tragic death

Difficult to identify child abuse when parents 'actively choose to conceal' signs: Social workers

MSF also previously told CNA that when a child is removed from their family of origin, the goal is to reunite them. Some families are reunited within 12 months, while others may take up to three years on average.

CPS steps in to investigate or intervene in situations where children cannot remain safe with their parents or caregivers.

When child protection concerns are severe and parents are unwilling or unable to ensure the safety of children in their care, CPS will place the child in alternative care – this includes extended family members or friends.

If they are not suitable, the child will be placed in foster care or in a children’s home.

CPS will then work with the parents to reintegrate the child, said MSF.

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