Ms Sylvia Lim (Aljunied): In 2019, the Ministry introduced four significant updates to the Children and Young Persons Act.
First, changes were made to enhance the safeguarding of abuse on neglected children; second, the rehabilitation and re-integration of youth offenders was strengthened; third, parents with difficulties managing their children were to apply for family guidance orders replacing the formal BPC or Beyond Parental Control orders; and fourth, community resources to support vulnerable children were increased.
These amendments are very significant.
One of the key changes was to amend the definition of “child” to include youths, not exceeding 18 years of age in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child which Singapore has signed. This increase by just two years would require real adjustments by the various agencies involved to cater to the older youths between 16 and 18 years of age.
Another significant change is the new FGO regime which provides for compulsory attendance at family programmes even before parents can file a court application. The amendments were effective in July 2020 and I appreciate that only half a year has passed.
Nevertheless, what is MSF’s interim assessment of the impact? For instance, how have the juvenile rehabilitation centres cope with increase and different caseload? Have children been better served under the FGO regime compared to the BPC regime?
Ministry of Social and Family Development
5 March 2021