Do you have what it takes to foster a child? To change a life? Singapore seems utopian in many ways, but, like all places, there are people here who really need your help, even on a short-term basis.
Take Lilian*, for example. When she was 35 weeks pregnant, the father of her baby, a foreigner, skipped town, leaving her homeless and alone. Her parents refused to take her back home. Where was she to turn? What was she to do?
With no one to turn to and a baby on the way, Lilian was given residence at a shelter. Lilian was allowed to reside at the shelter until her baby, Angela*, turned four months old.
But that wasn’t enough. How was Lilian to provide for her daughter? She needed to get a job, clear her debt, find a flat and be able to afford all of Angela’s necessities. Doing all that while caring for a newborn seemed impossible.
So a social worker from the shelter referred Lilian to Sanctuary Care a month after she gave birth to Angela. Angela was placed in Sanctuary Care, Boys’ Town very own version of community respite care for children. A short-term respite carer named Charmaine* took Angela for a few months while Lilian got her life together, taking on extra shifts at work, saving money and preparing to be a mother.
Charmaine has also acted as a mentor and rock for Lilian, lending an ear to her struggles, working through solutions with her, guiding her on financial management to control her spending and even helping her keep organised with baby monitoring apps. Charmaine has kept a meticulous journal of Angela’s input/output and her temperature as well as bathing and sleep timings to assist Lilian with monitoring Angela. She has also helped implement techniques such as Dr Harvey Karp’s 5S steps for soothing babies, teaching these to Lilian so that she can follow through in the future.
When Lilian struggled in the early weeks with breastfeeding, Charmaine guided her to encourage increased breastmilk production and also suggested that Lilian receive breastmilk from other mothers with oversupply to ensure that Angela reaped the maximum benefits from breastfeeding.
Now, Angela has grown into a chubby little angel, sleeping and feeding well. She has met all her developmental milestones under Charmaine’s care. Lilian has also been able to patch up her relationship with her own father and he’s even developed a relationship with his granddaughter. Soon, Lilian will be living under her own roof with her baby daughter as her HDB rental application has been approved.
In the end, Charmaine rescued not one, but two souls. A simple act of taking care of a baby for a few months changed the direction of both their lives forever. And it changed Charmaine, too.
*Names have been changed to protect identities.
Being a respite carer
Could you do that for somebody? Foster a child? Help them in their time of need? Make a real difference not only for a few weeks, but a difference that will change a life forever?
If the answer is yes, why not consider being a short-term respite carer? Just submit a request and then a social worker and a respite care recruitment officer will visit your home to conduct a home assessment visit. They’ll explain everything required, making sure it’s a good fit for you both. The goal is to make sure it’s a win-win for everybody. If it is, you’ll go through a more thorough assessment. A panel of professionals within Boys’ Town will then green light your application and you can start changing lives. The entire process takes between eight to ten weeks.
Criteria for being a Short-term Respite Carer under Sanctuary Care:
- 25 years old and above
- Preferably married
- Minimum household income of $3,000 (nett)
- Residing in Singapore for a least the next one year (for expatriates)
- Experience in caring for children and willingness to provide a child-safe environment
- Willingness to support the child in returning to their own family
- Willingness to work with professionals to support the child
Applicants who do not meet these criteria will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
Click here for the Respite Carer Application Form.
Find out more about raising children in Singapore in our Kids section!