Boys’ Town Sanctuary Care finds vulnerable children a safe place to stay when their parents are in crises. This is a free service provided by volunteers to needy families – and the demand for volunteering in Singapore, temporary foster parents or respite carers, is growing.
Every child deserves to grow up in a safe and happy environment, but when families face certain life challenges, this can be difficult to sustain. Volunteers can provide just the support needed for parents and children to get things back on track.
Volunteers at Sanctuary Care say it’s a meaningful and fulfilling experience to share their home with a child who needs shelter and love, and support a mum or dad through difficult times. Read on for just one example of how this kind of love and support has helped a family in a time of need.
Laura (not her real name) is a mother of four children who is currently living on one income in a single rented room. The 33-year-old once had dreams and aspirations, but her husband divorced her and left her with just the two children they had at the time, and the clothes on her back. She then met a man who she thought she might have a future with; however, when she became pregnant with twins, he too abandoned her.
Laura decided to keep her pregnancy. She and her two children receive no support from family or friends. She has a job in administration and works hard to make ends meet and provide for her growing family.
In early 2022, Laura gave birth to beautiful twin boys. Sadly, one of the babies has a congenital heart condition and requires long-term medical care. As a single parent and sole breadwinner, already overcome by stress and exhaustion, she was devastated by the news. To add to her distress, her landlord asked the family to move out because of noise complaints from other tenants in the flat.
A welcome referral
In June 2022, looking for some help with her now five month-old twins, Laura was referred to Sanctuary Care by a community social worker. She was relieved to be given respite care for a three-month period during which she could look for a better place to live and find day care for her twins. She was finding it hard to work while looking after the children.
When Sanctuary Care first met Laura, it was obvious to them that she was a devoted mother who loves her children. She was initially anxious about being separated from her twins as she had never lived apart from them before; she needed a lot of reassuring.
This is Laura’s current situation; and the twins are still under the placement scheme. Sanctuary Care found two sets of carers who were able to take in the twins. Laura met them and showed them what to do, especially how to administer the eight-hourly medication to the sick child. She left the meeting feeling encouraged when she saw how gentle, experienced and willing the carers were.
The respite arrangement agreed upon by both parties is for four days, from Thursday to Sunday every week. Sanctuary Care also made sure there was enough milk, nappies, baby equipment and other infant items for the duration of the placement.
Respite care was a huge relief for Laura. She was able to keep the noise down in her room and her landlord agreed to let her stay. The arrangement also meant she can work in peace and look after her own mental health for a while.
Support for carers
To ensure that foster parents and respite carers have the necessary support, Sanctuary Care has a care group which includes a social worker and four other experienced volunteers. They communicate regularly via text – it’s an avenue for them to conduct check-ins and seek active advice from one another. They also encourage and reassure one another.
The primary goal of Sanctuary Care is to stabilise, support and strengthen the family system so that the child in need is well cared for and kept out of the child protection system.
If you’d like to make a difference as a volunteer, email email@example.com or call 6221 0588 or 9177 3112.
Boys’ Town Sanctuary Care helps families in difficult situations such as:
- Medical emergencies
- Caregiver mental health
- Transitional needs
- Financial difficulties
- Short-term incarceration
- Teenage pregnancies
These are the eligibility criteria for being a respite carer with Sanctuary Care:
- 28 years old and above
- Minimum household income of $3,000
- Residing in Singapore for at least the next one year
- Experience in caring for children
- Willing to provide a child-safe environment
- Willing to work with the Sanctuary Care Team and other professionals
Find out more about Boys’ Town Sanctuary Care at sanctuarycare.org or scan the QR code.
This article first appeared in the September 2022 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase the latest issue or subscribe, so you never miss a copy!