Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


What is respite care?

Respite Care is a short term care arrangement in which a child is cared for by someone when the parents are not able to. Respite Care arrangements are flexible and tailored to the needs of the family.

Who is Boys' Town Sanctuary Care?

Sanctuary Care is part of Boys Town, a charity founded by the Montfort Brothers of St. Gabriel in 1948. Boys’ Town serves children and youth who come from disadvantaged and disengaged families who may have faced hardship resulting from difficult home situations, financial struggles, abandonment, and abuse. As one of six services at Boys' Town, Sanctuary Care provides emergency and interim respite care for families facing crisis. We place new-born infants and children up to 8 years of age with respite care families for a duration of a few days up to 3 months. The purpose of this temporary arrangement is so that families in crisis can make the necessary arrangements to strengthen their long-term caregiving capacity without having to worry about the care and safety of their children. All Sanctuary Care placements are voluntary so parents/ primary caregivers must consent to respite care placement for the child under Sanctuary Care. Due to the nature of Sanctuary Care’s programme, we are only able to provide our services for children with identified caregivers.

Do respite carers receive a monetary allowance?

Respite carers do not receive monetary allowance. However, Sanctuary Care is able to provide interim support for certain necessities such as milk, diapers, clothing, toys, utensils and sterilisers for emergency placements or, in the case of short term placements, till the necessities can be purchased.

Is there anything besides respite care that people can do to help these families under Sanctuary Care?

Most of the children in our care get to see their parents once a week and often, for various reasons, when their foster families can’t take them to meet their parents, we need volunteers to help ferry the children. If you have time to spare or wish to donate to our cause, we would be delighted to hear from you!

What kind of services does Sanctuary Care provide?

Sanctuary Care provides free, short-term respite care to help families in temporary crisis. We match our trusted community of respite carers with the needs of new-born babies and children up to 8 years of age. By doing so, parents have a support system for managing circumstances that hinder them from providing the best level of care they can give to their children. Respite care can range from as short as a few hours to as long as 3 months. We also work with the families to empower them to change their circumstances so that their children can return home permanently to a safe and stable environment.

Is respite care the same as fostering?

No. The MSF fostering scheme is for children below the age of 18 who, among other things, have been abandoned, neglected or abused, or whose parents or guardians are unable to care for them. Children under this scheme come through the system through MSF Child Protective Services and may go into care through Court orders. MSF fostering placements can sometimes involve providing long term care. Sanctuary Care provides community-based respite care services, which are short term and lasts a maximum of 3 months, and the type of placement rests on the needs of the family. Some children require care solely in the daytime on weekdays while others may only need care during the weekends. Some children may stay over with the foster family during the week.

Typically, what kind of families and children come to you for help?

Our children come from low income families who have low levels of social support. The parents may have difficulties finding accommodation or employment and are in need of help while they address these issues. There are parents who may be facing incarceration or require admission to hospital while others are single mothers who want to keep their infants long term but need extra support during the first year or so. We serve new-born babies and children up to the age of 8, though sometimes we have children above the age of 8 who require care as well. In Sanctuary Care, families are referred by community social workers from hospitals and family service centres. Typically, the children who come to us have loving parents and caregivers who would like to continue caring for their children but are temporarily unable to due to issues such as medical emergencies or sudden job loss. Their parents could also be overwhelmed by multiple responsibilities and require extra support. All our cases are voluntary in nature and parents are required to consent to respite care placement before we place a child under the care of a respite carer.

Referral/ Application for Respite Care

When will someone need respite care?

There are situations where children are in dire need of immediate care such as when a parent is admitted to hospital with no next of kin to care for them. This form of interim care happens at short notice and typically lasts for a few days. Sometimes, children may also require a temporary place to stay as their caregivers are momentarily unable to provide care. Examples of such instances would be when a parent is facing short jail term or have been evicted and is unable to find child-safe accommodation at short notice. Children may also require a short period of care to ease the overwhelming responsibilities of the caregiver. These children will then require a short period of care that can last from a few days till a few weeks until more concrete measures can be put in place.

When is a case eligible for Sanctuary Care services?

A case is eligible if it meets the following criteria: Primary caregivers and extended family network are temporarily unable to care for the child - Child is between 0 to 8 years of age - No major child protection concerns - All alternatives options have been explored and exhausted - A long-term caregiver has been identified and is willing to take on the role - Child requires a period of respite care not exceeding 90 days while alternative arrangements can be made -Long-term caregiver must commit to working closely with Sanctuary Care and relevant social service agencies - Long-term caregiver must commit to regular contact with the child Out of home respite care, like foster care, is an extreme option and has a significant impact on the psychological and emotional wellbeing of the child. This option should only be considered when all options have been exhausted. Sanctuary Care matches the child to the respite carer based on the needs of the family. As such, this service is subject to availability of suitable caregivers for the child. Do contact Sanctuary Care at 6221 0588 or to have a discussion with the team if needed.

What is the process of referral?

Complete the referral application here. Be sure to attach the social report with your application. Our team will be in contact with you within 2 working days. For emergency foster care (same day placement), please contact the Sanctuary Mobile Line at 9177 3112.

Apply to be a Respite Carer

What is the criteria for being a respite carer?

1. 28 years old and above 2. Preferably be married 3. Minimum household income of $3,000 (nett) 4. Residing in Singapore for a least the next one year 5. Experience in caring for children 6. Willingness to have a child reside in their house for a stipulated period of time 7. Willingness to provide a child-safe environment 8. Willingness to support the child in returning to their own family 9. Willingness to work with professionals to support the child 10. Support from all household members

What commitments are required of respite carers?

Respite parents should: - Provide care, love and safety for the child in their own home for an agreed upon period of time - Support and assist with contact between the child and their natural family - Agree to work closely with the Sanctuary Care team in the best interest of the child - Respect the cultural heritage and religious beliefs of the natural family by caring for their childin line with their cultural and religious customs. The Sanctuary Care team will be able to answer any questions you may have about the specifics of each case and/or support you during this time.

What support does Sanctuary Care provide for respite carers?

Members of the Sanctuary Care team are available to answer any queries that may arise during placement. In addition, a senior member of staff is on call for after-hours emergencies. Our team will also check in regularly with you during the placement to ensure that the family is coping well with the addition of a new child/ children.

What is the respite carer application process like?

1.Complete application here. 2.Recruitment officer will contact prospective respite carer and conduct a preliminary home assessment visit to share about Sanctuary Care services (2 weeks) 3.Security screening of prospective respite carers and household members over 18 years of age (4 weeks) 4.Assessment interviews (at least 2 interviews) and completion of assessment report (6 – 8 weeks) 5.Application and assessment report is presented to by a panel for approval. (approx. 4 weeks)

I am an expatriate on LTVP/ EP/ DP. Can I still apply?

Yes! Sanctuary Care welcomes all to apply, as long as you foresee that you and your family plan to be based in Singapore for the next one year.

My husband and I work. Can I still apply?

Yes! Many of our respite care families are dual income households so it is possible to be a respite carer. We have a sizeable number of families in need whose children attend infant care or childcare but require caregiving beyond childcare centre opening hours (in other words, beyond 6.30pm). If you are able to care for a child beyond your regular working hours, you are welcome to apply.

I am a single parent. Can I still apply?

Of course! Being a single parent in no way indicates that you are an unworthy caregiver. If you have the capacity to care for another child over and above your own children, and have a sound support system to tap on in times of need, you are welcome to apply.

I do not know how long I will be staying on in Singapore. Can I still apply?

We generally encourage our applicants to apply only if they foresee that they will be based in Singapore for the next twelve months as the applicant process will take a few months.

I am a single parent. Can I still apply?

Of course! Being a single parent in no way indicates that you are an unworthy caregiver. If you have the capacity to care for another child over and above your own children, and have a sound support system to tap on in times of need, you are welcome to apply.

I do not know how long I will be staying on in Singapore. Can I still apply?

We generally encourage our applicants to apply only if they foresee that they will be based in Singapore for the next twelve months as the applicant process will take a few months.

What if i travel? Will that be an issue?

Our respite carer families travel a lot (for work and pleasure) and that’s perfectly fine! However, we typically ask that our respite carers let us know of their travel plans in advance so that if we encounter a family in need of help, we do not disturb respite carers who are not/ will not be available.

My family can only speak English and our home language. What if a non English speaking child is placed with us?

We have many expatriate families whose only language of communication may be English. Fortunately, most of the children in need are able to communicate in English. We recognize, however, that not all children possess a good command of English. If no one in your family is able to converse with the respite child in a language that he/she is comfortable with, we will avoid placing this child with your family.

Our family overseas often come to visit us. Would that be an issue?

We understand that many of our respite care families often have friends and families visiting. That is not an issue though it would be good to inform the Sanctuary Care worker in advance for our planning purposes. This is especially important if you want to spend quality time with your family during this period and do not wish to accept a respite child.

I have pets? Is that a problem?

Pets are great additions to the household and we must say that they make great ambassadors for welcoming a respite child into your family. When you apply, we will check with you regarding your pet’s disposition as we will consider this when assessing if a respite child is suitable to be placed with your household.

Can my domestic helper be the one who provides caregiving for the child?

We understand that it takes a whole village to raise a child. Sometimes, you may find that you may need to tap on your domestic helper to care for the respite child for awhile. However, we advise that you do not leave your respite child in the sole care of your domestic helper for more than 4 hours. We also suggest that your domestic helper’s day to day involvement in the caregiving of the respite child is largely task based (such as cooking of meals, for example) rather than direct caregiving.

What do I pay for when I provide respite care for a child?

As a volunteer with Sanctuary Care, we try to minimise the financial cost of volunteering your time to care for a child by covering medical costs and providing general day- to-day items such as diapers, clothes and formula milk. However, respite carers typically cover the costs of daily meals.

Saying goodbye to our respite child is going to be so tough!

Saying goodbye is indeed the hardest part of respite caregiving! However, it is part and parcel of respite caregiving (and life, really) and while we must admit, your first few instances of saying goodbye can be painful, we promise that you get used to it. Our respite carer families have adapted to this by holding farewell parties or even having a meal together on the child’s last day to end things on a good note. Being mentally prepared and preparing your children for this eventual goodbye also helps. Afterall, it is a good thing if your respite child goes home because now he/she will get to be with his/her family!