Impact of Children and Young Persons Act Amendments 2019 – Sylvia Lim
In 2019 the Ministry introduced four significant updates to the Children and Young Persons Act. First, changes were made to enhance the safeguarding of abused or neglected children. Second, the rehabilitation and reintegration of youth offenders was strengthened. Third, parents who had difficulties managing their children were to apply for Family Guidance Orders (FGOs), replacing the former 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 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 before parents can file a court application.
These amendments were effective in July 2020, and I appreciate that only half a year has passed. Nevertheless, what is MSF’s interim assessment of their impact? For instance, how have the Juvenile Rehabilitation Centres coped with the increased and different case load? Have children been better served under the FGO regime compared to the BPC regime?
Pre-School Places – Chua Kheng Wee Louis
Chairman, I understand that by around 2025, 80 per cent of pre-schoolers can have a place in a government-supported preschool, up from about 50 per cent in 2019. While the Government has increased the number of infant care and childcare places over the last five years, this is still woefully inadequate in towns such as Sengkang, which has the highest number of young children across Singapore by planning area, with 17,380 zero to four year olds and 17,240 five to nine year olds as of June 2019.
As such, while there may be vacancies in the system today, this may not be so for particular areas with a higher concentration of young families. What is the target total number of centres and places that will be offering infant care services and child care services in 2025, and where will these be located?