So we’ve been told here at Sanctuary Care.
We are guessing it’s because the children we work with do not have outright protection concerns. Indeed, there are many children within the child protection system in need of foster carers. For that we have Ministry of Social and Family Development and the 5 fostering agencies working hard to ensure that these children are well cared for by foster parents. However, we here at Sanctuary Care prefer to take a more upstream approach. Rather than let the situation reach the stage where things become of concern to Child Protection, we would much rather help parents who want to be good parents for their kids but are struggling.
Perhaps we can shed some light on the families we work with.
Parents facing prison sentences
Having a conviction record does not mean you are a bad parent. We have worked with parents who have or are serving time in jail for mistakes they have made. They are also great parents who hope that children will make better decisions in life. With our current capacity, we support parents who are sentenced to short jail sentences of below three months and have no suitable family members to look after the child during that period. With their child safe and sound in a respite carer’s home, they can focus on serving their sentence without having to worry about whether their child is attending school or eating well.
Go home? No home
Ever so often, we have families who find themselves homeless, whether as a result of financial issues or conflict with the owner of the home. Many of these instances involve young parents. Finding accommodation is not the easiest. Finding one that is child-safe or welcomes young children is even harder. One can only imagine the stress faced by young parents, who are thrust into adulthood and parenthood at the same time.
Our first priority is to provide shelter for the child while social workers work with the family, HDB and other agencies to find alternative accommodation for the family. We hope that the act of providing respite will be a stepping stone in a long journey of helping these parents work towards being financially capable of owning their own home.
Parenthood is hard. Twice as hard if you are taking on parenthood as a teenager. Imagine how much harder it can get without enough support of the family, if any. What if you need to juggle school, work and baby alone? Chances are, as a teenager, employment is low paying, the hours are long and does not come with the perks and benefits that higher paying jobs typically do. This places greater financial strain and emotional stress on the teenage parent. Teenage mums and dads (yes, dads too) need all the support and guidance they can get at navigating life and parenthood. At Sanctuary Care, by easing the burden of childcare till long term arrangements are found, we allow teenage parents and their social workers time to find sustainable childcare, and the opportunity for them to find better employment, to upgrade their skills or to even just to get a breather.
Under the knife
One worry that single parents without any other support have is that they will fall sick or get into an accident. Many parents do not get medical treatment or despair when they meet with an accident as there is no one to care for their children while they seek treatment or recover from treatment. Well, you can provide the level of care you want for your child if you are sick or hurt. We recognise that and that’s why we hope to give parents that peace of mind to get help by ensuring that their child is in safe hands while they go for that operation or recuperate.
Still think those we help don’t deserve it? We hope not.