Friday, 14 October 2022 – Singapore Children’s Society commemorated its 70th Anniversary with a special Learning Festival on 14 October. Held at NTUC Centre located at Marina Boulevard, this Learning Festival comprised three learning sessions on the topics of vulnerable children, physical discipline and children’s mental health. This was followed by the 15th Singapore Children’s Society Lecture from Mr Desmond Lee, Minister for National Development and Minister-in-Charge of Social Services Integration, and a book launch. Around 450 signed up for this event.
In line with our 70th Anniversary tagline, ‘70 years of bringing hope and smiles’, this Learning Festival conveyed what we achieved thus far over the past seven decades for our next generation and our continued efforts to be a leading-edge organisation in promoting the well-being of children in need.
The learning sessions were helmed by experienced social service practitioners from both Singapore Children’s Society and beyond, as well as parents, researchers and other experts. Minister Desmond Lee, speaker at our 15th Singapore Children’s Society Lecture, shared on strengthening our social service delivery, and how we can better integrate and coordinate our social services around the family.
The Learning Festival concluded with the launch of the book ‘Thinking of Children: The Singapore Children’s Society Collected Lectures (2015-2021)’. This is the second book in our series of collected lectures by distinguished speakers on various aspects of childhood. The predecessor to this was ‘Speaking of Children’, launched in 2015 during our SG50 celebrations. We hope this book will continue to inspire more discussions that will bring about societal changes for a brighter future for our next generation. During the Learning Festival, we also paid tribute to our community partners, donors and volunteers, who have played a key role in assisting our work over the decades. Said Mr Koh Choon Hui, Chairman of Singapore Children’s Society at the event, “We are very grateful for the many like-minded partners, donors and volunteers working with Singapore Children’s Society. We believe that through their support, our impact can be multiplied to support individuals and families who are in need”.
More information on the programme and synopsis can be found in Annex 1 while speaker biographies can be found in Annex 2. Information on the book ‘Thinking of Children: The Singapore Children’s Society Collected Lectures (2015-2021)’ can be found in Annex 3.
About Singapore Children’s Society (www.childrensociety.org.sg)
Singapore Children’s Society protects and nurtures children and youth of all races and religions. In 2021, the Society reached out to 19,973 children, youth and families in need. Established in 1952, its services have evolved to meet the changing needs of children. Today, Children’s Society operates more than 10 service centres islandwide, offering services in the four categories of: Vulnerable Children and Youth, Children and Youth Services, Family Services, and Research and Advocacy.
The charity’s Patron-in-Chief is President Halimah Yacob, President of the Republic of Singapore.
70th Anniversary Learning Festival
|8:30am to 9:00am||Registration and morning tea|
|9:00am to 10:45am||Learning Session 1 — Vulnerable children’s journey home Speakers: Ms Natasha Lim, Social Worker, Singapore Children’s SocietyMs Sonja Parker, Independent Social Worker and Child Protection Consultant, SP Consultancy (Perth, Western Australia) Synopsis: This session will shine the spotlight on the reunification process of children in out-of-home care with their birth families. We will be sharing our learning from delivering the Safe and Strong Families Reunification programme. Through an examination of the cases we served, we distilled the factors involved in enabling reunification to be a more viable and sustainable option for our children and youth. A key takeaway is the need for stronger social support for these families. Our guest speaker, Sonja Parker, will touch on the Partnering for Safety approach and how it supports families to strengthen and involve their network of safety and support. This network is made up of people who will continue to support the parents to create and sustain safety for the children even after professionals exit the scene.|
|10:45am to 11:00am||Break|
|11:00am to 12:30pm||Learning Session 2 — Children’s mental health: Beyond awareness Speakers: Dr Ong Say How, Senior Consultant Child Psychiatrist and Chief of the Department of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Institute of Mental Health Dr Quah Saw Han, Clinical Psychologist Ms Ann Hui Peng, Director, Student Service, Singapore Children’s Society Ms Vivyan Chee, Deputy Director, Oasis for Minds Services, Singapore Children’s Society Ms Nurani Kaseh Binte Isa, Youth Speaker, Singapore Children’s Forum alumnus Moderator: Mdm Rashidah Bte Abdul Rasip, Board Member, Singapore Children’s Society Synopsis: Youth mental well-being has been in the spotlight in recent years, steadily gaining traction and attention. But youths do not become youths overnight – are we giving enough attention to children’s mental well-being? In this panel discussion, let us better understand the current state of mental well-being of our children. We also bring children’s voices to the forefront by sharing the challenges that we gathered from a sub-population of our Tinkle Friend chat users who are mostly primary school-aged children. Join us in this conversation as we discuss the collective actions that can be taken to support our children’s mental well-being.|
|12:30pm to 1:30pm||Lunch|
|1:30pm to 3:00pm||Learning session 3 — Physical discipline in families: Can we spare the rod? Research Presenters: Dr Cheung Hoi Shan, Assistant Professor of Psychology, Yale-NUS CollegeMs Clarissa Choo,Research Officer, Singapore Children’s Society Speakers: Dr Cheung Hoi Shan, Assistant Professor of Psychology, Yale-NUS CollegeMs Jacinth Liew, Parenting Coach, Our Little Play Nest and Our Little Play AcademyMr Steven Chia, Mediacorp Senior Editor/Presenter, CNA Moderator: A/P Isabella Wong, Board Member, Singapore Children’s Society Synopsis: How often do parents in Singapore use physical discipline on their children? Do they find it effective? What is its impact on children? Find out these answers and more through a sharing about a local study completed by Singapore Children’s Society. This session will shed light on: The prevalence of physical discipline used and experienced in parental discipline in Singapore Parents’ attitudes towards physical discipline Parents’ experiences using physical discipline Effects of physical discipline on young adult outcomes Young adults’ experiences of receiving physical discipline There will also be a panel discussion after the research presentation to make sense of these findings collectively, and their practical implications.|
|3:00pm to 3:30pm||Tea Break|
|3:30pm to 5:15pm||15th Singapore Children’s Society Lecture — Strengthening our social service delivery Speaker: Minister Desmond Lee, Minister-in-charge of Social Services Integration and Minister for National Development Synopsis: Over the years, our social safety nets have evolved – from providing the broad conditions that all Singaporeans needed, like housing, healthcare, and education, toward tilting our support more in favour of those who have less. Today, a myriad of social service agencies and community partners provide many types of support. But often, vulnerable families face a complex web of interlocking challenges that no one agency can address on its own. How then can we better integrate and coordinate our social services around the family, to achieve greater impact and reduce wastage of resources? What skills, processes, and systems will we need to do so? This lecture will examine these questions, and more.|
|5:15pm to 5:30pm||Book Launch Thinking of Children: The Singapore Children’s Society Collected Lectures (2015-2021) This isthe second book in our series of collected lectures by distinguished speakers on various aspects of childhood.|
|5:30pm||End of Event|
Learning Session 1 — Vulnerable children’s journey home
Ms Natasha Lim
Singapore Children’s Society
Natasha is a social worker in Singapore Children’s Society. She is currently part of the Safe and Strong Families-Reunification team which supports children in out-of-home care be reunified to their biological family in a safe and timely manner. Natasha is also part of the Adoption Facilitation Service which seeks to provide permanency to children where reunification is not possible. She works with young persons, families and professionals to collaboratively plan and ensure safety and well-being needs are met.
Natasha is passionate about child protection concerns and its impact on attachment, trauma & the brain. She is also passionate in advocating for a child’s right to permanency and the need to support caregivers in nurturing healthy children.
Ms Sonja Parker
Independent Social Worker and Child Protection Consultant
SP Consultancy (Perth, Western Australia)
Sonja Parker is an independent social worker and child protection consultant from Perth, Western Australia. Through SP Consultancy, Sonja provides consultation and training to child protection organizations and practitioners around the world to support them in building their knowledge and skills in the Partnering for Safety approach, in strength-based and family-centred practice, in family conferencing and in comprehensive safety planning. Sonja also works directly with families as an independent practitioner, providing comprehensive assessment, family conferencing and rigorous safety planning in high-risk cases and in situations of ‘denied’ child abuse.
Sonja is passionate about supporting child protection workers, supervisors and managers in the difficult work that they do, and about ensuring that family members, including children and young people, are at the centre of planning for their future. Through her work with families and her training and consultation with agencies and practitioners, Sonja has developed a number of tools, processes and resources to assist child protection professionals and family members in working together more effectively to build future safety for children.
Learning Session 2 — Children’s mental health: Beyond awareness
Mdm Rashidah Bte Abdul Rasip
Singapore Children’s Society
Mdm Rashidah Bte Abdul Rasip is a member of the Board at Singapore Children’s Society, a position she held since 2008. She started volunteering with Singapore Children’s Society in 2007 as a member of the Social Work Service Standing Committee. Mdm Rashidah was the Principal of Huamin Primary School (1997 to 2004) and West View Primary School (2008 to 2015). She was also posted as a Senior Quality Assessor with the School Appraisal Branch, Ministry of Education in 2005 and thereafter seconded to MENDAKI as its CEO from 2006 to 2007. She was Principal of Hougang Primary from 2014 until her retirement on 31 Dec 2020.
Dr Ong Say How
Senior Consultant Child Psychiatrist and Chief of the Department of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
Institute of Mental Health
Dr Ong is a senior consultant child psychiatrist and Chief of the Department of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry in IMH. He obtained his Masters in Medicine (Psychiatry) in 1999 and Graduate Diploma in Psychotherapy in 2001 from the National University of Singapore. Since his return from a fellowship in New York in 2005, he has been deeply engaged in outpatient services for children and adolescents with psychological problems and has conducted research work in mood disorders, schizophrenia and ADHD. Topics such as anxiety, depression and trauma are close to his heart. He is a frequent speaker in public forums and media interviews on child mental health issues. His authorship also spans various relevant topics on children and adolescent mental health.
Dr Quah Saw Han
Dr Quah Saw Han is a Clinical Psychologist in private practice in Singapore. For the past 20 years, Saw Han has worked with children, young persons, and their parents in relation to child protection, juvenile crime, and family issues. Prior to private practice, Saw Han worked as a Principal Clinical Psychologist and Assistant Director at a government department dealing with rehabilitation and protection cases. She has a wide range of interests: parenting, disabilities, child development and protection, mental health (especially trauma, resilience, and children of mentally ill parents), family therapy, programme implementation and evaluation, research, learning and behaviour, and issues related to burnout. Saw Han has been a trainer and involved with the implementation of TCOM tools like CANS (Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths) and FAST (Family Advocacy Support Tool – named as Family and Adult Support Tool in Singapore) for the past 10 years.
Ms Ann Hui Peng
Director, Student Service
Singapore Children’s Society
Hui Peng is the Group Lead for the Children Development Group and she also heads Student Service @ Children’s Society. She is a registered social worker and has more than 20 years of experience in the social services sector. She used to work in a family service centre, supporting families with family violence issues. In recent years, Hui Peng had been actively involved in children and youth work in the school and community settings. She and her team also kickstarted the Appropriate Adult Scheme for Young Suspects with the stakeholders in 2017. Currently, Hui Peng and her team are running the Tinkle Friend service to support primary school students and building bully-free school environments.
Ms Vivyan Chee
Deputy Director, Oasis for Minds Services,
Singapore Children’s Society
Vivyan Chee is the Deputy Director for Oasis for Minds Services in Singapore Children’s Society. She has more than 10 years of experience working with at-risk youths and vulnerable children and young persons in the child welfare system. Her experience working with these clients granted her insight into supporting those with various mental health challenges such as self-harm, suicide, depression, anxiety, traumatic grief, trauma and schizophrenia. A trained Trauma-informed Cognitive Behavioural Therapy practitioner, Vivyan holds a Masters in Counselling and Bachelor of Arts (Psychology and Sociology).
Ms Nurani Kaseh Binte Isa
Singapore Children’s Forum Alumnus
Nurani is a fourth-year student in Raffles Girls’ School, with a burning passion for languages, philosophy, debate, public speaking, dramatic arts, music, and community service.
During her free time, she works towards honing my skills in said various areas of pursuit. A competitive public speaker and debater, she has attained a myriad of awards in numerous tournaments, such as attaining the First Runner-Up for the Public English Speaking Awards in her age division this year.
She is also an avid volunteer leader in various areas, having begun my journey in service at the age of 13. Since then, she has been a student tutor, placed as the in-charge for multiple student-initiated groups, and recently was named one of five Shortlisted Nominees for the President’s Volunteerism and Philanthropy Awards 2021.
Learning session 3 — Physical discipline in families: Can we spare the rod?
A/P Isabella Wong
Singapore Children’s Society
Dr. Isabella Wong is an Associate Professor with the Psychology and Child & Human Development Academic Group at the National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University. Her interdisciplinary expertise areas include child/adolescent psychopathology and psychoeducational interventions, as well as the development, assessment and evaluation of programs aimed at fostering positive psychology, social and emotional competencies, and systemic support for mental health and wellbeing among schoolchildren and teachers. Dr. Wong enjoys teaching and has a longstanding interest in teacher cognition, teacher emotions, teacher professional development, and effective higher education pedagogies. Her current research work focuses on Mediated Learning Experiences and she is a co-founder of the NIE Mediated Learning Laboratory. In addition to supporting various social service agencies, she consults and trains extensively with community and educational organisations.
Dr Cheung Hoi Shan
Assistant Professor of Psychology
Dr Cheung Hoi Shan is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Yale-NUS College. She obtained a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from the National University of Singapore (NUS), where she examined how parental sensitive behaviour is related to children’s peer relationship in pre-school. She continued to develop her research in attachment theory and school bullying, as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Psychology at NUS and later a visiting scholar in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at Purdue University.
Dr Cheung’s current work investigates parenting styles and practices in Singapore and other cultures, and their influence on children’s development. Her current research examines how parents’ use of disciplinary practices and parental warmth may have an impact on children’s self-regulation and emotional well-being. Other research interests include the role of parent-child attachment in children’s social relationships, such as bullying and victimisation behaviours in the school context.
Ms Clarissa Choo
Singapore Children’s Society
Clarissa is a Research Officer at Singapore Children’s Society. She is interested in understanding children and youths’ experiences, and the issues that concern them. She enjoys doing qualitative research and finds that the most interesting part of research is learning from others’ perspectives.
Ms Jacinth Liew
Our Little Play Nest and Our Little Play Academy
Jacinth is a parenting coach, ex-secondary school teacher, textbook co-author, and a mom to two kids (aged 8yo and 6yo). She is also the founder of Our Little Play Nest and Our Little Play Academy.
She believes that parents are the best teachers children have, and it is so important for parents to model good behaviour because more is caught than taught. Marrying her decade-long of teaching knowledge and parenting experiences, Jacinth empowers parents to communicate and connect meaningfully with their children through research-backed, positive parenting strategies. She shares bite-sized parenting tips with parents on social media as well as via in-person workshops, her signature online course From Yelling to Connecting, parenting membership Sprout.
She has been featured in The Straits Times, Lianhe Zaobao and Tatler Singapore.
Mr Steven Chia
Mediacorp Senior Editor/Presenter
Steven currently hosts Talking Point, a programme that tackles Singapore’s hottest and most current topics. Each week, the show dives into issues that are of concern to Singaporeans presenting these matters in a fresh and informative way.
Prior to this, Steven anchored Singapore Tonight, a show that provides in-depth analysis and interviews with newsmakers on the top stories in Singapore. And before that Steven co-anchored and produced CNA’s flagship morning show, AM LIVE!, one of the network’s most-watched shows, with a colourful mix of hard news, live interviews and discussions on current issues. In 2015 and 2020, Steven also co-anchored Singapore’s General Elections results show.
Over the years, Steven has interviewed numerous personalities. From politicians, to influencers, athletes and even celebrities such as Sir Ian McKellen, Kevin Spacey, Lady Gaga, Josh Groban and Maggie Q, just to name a few.
Steven has also fronted Mediacorp programmes such as Crimewatch and worked as a radio presenter with the company’s classical music station, Symphony 92.4FM.
‘Thinking of Children: The Singapore Children’s Society Collected Lectures (2015-2021)’ Book
This book is the second in Singapore Children’s Society’s series of collected lectures by distinguished speakers on various aspects of childhood. The chapters feature the speakers’ personal narratives and professional expertise in their various fields of work, as well as their replies to pertinent questions from members of the public about the issues faced by children growing up in Singapore. It is Singapore Children’s Society’s hope that the book will serve as an invaluable resource for members of the public who are interested in finding out more about the changes to childhood in Singapore over the years.
The book consists of lectures from the following speakers:
- Growing up in the Digital World (Han Fook Kwang)
- Our Children, Their Hopes and Future (Grace Fu)
- Definition of Success — Doing Justice to One’s Blessings (Chan Chun Sing)
- Growing up in an Unequal Society (Teo You Yenn)
- Parenting: Does one size fit all? (John Elliott)
- A Shared Journey Safeguarding our Children (Priscilla Lui)