When children who have been in out-of-home care are reunited with their birth families, it can be both emotional and challenging.

A deeper understanding: Expert panellists sharing their insights on our Safe and Strong Families Reunification (SSFR) programme

At our Learning Festival on 14 October, held to mark Singapore Children’s Society’s 70th-anniversary, a 90-minute Learning Session on Vulnerable Children’s Journey Home allowed our expert panellists to share their insights on our Safe and Strong Families Reunification (SSFR) programme. They also discussed how to smoothen the transition, and ensure that families continue to get the help they need.

The session was run by Ms Sonja Parker, an independent social worker and child protection consultant, and Ms Natasha Lim, who is a social worker with Singapore Children’s Society’s SSFR programme. Ms Parker spoke on approaches that strengthen families and create networks of safety and support around them, while Ms Natasha Lim talked about how ties with birth families could be mended in the event of anger against the system following the removal of a child.

“Ultimately, the end goal is to create a safe space for all and help families rebuild their trust in the system while upholding the best interests of the child. We empower [families] to make positive changes moving forward… Harm doesn’t occur in a vacuum. These families often experience disadvantages or vulnerabilities which put them at risk for harm to happen,” says Ms Lim, adding that the session provided an opportunity to share insights on the challenges social workers sometimes face.

The other two Learning Sessions were on children’s mental health and physical discipline. The audience heard from experienced social service practitioners, parents, and researchers, and also got a chance to ask questions.

Child Development Executive Ms Shermaine Tham, who works closely with Sunbeam Place @ Children’s Society, said the Learning Festival provided great insights into significant topics around child welfare management.

“The session provided a lot of insights and information on the process leading up to reunification. It helps the public understand the services Singapore Children’s Society provides, and the day-to-day challenges social workers face.”

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