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Sat, Oct 24, 2009
The New Paper
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Child Protection procedure sees ammendments
by Benson Ang

NOT only did she win her daughter back, this mother may have also helped change ministry procedures.

As a result of her appeal to the High Court, a judge recommended that the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) review its procedures.

And now, the Child Protection Service (CPS) of the MCYS will modify its practices.

A spokesman for the MCYS revealed the changes to The New Paper in an e-mail on Saturday.

If the CPS had serious concerns about the child’s safety and welfare, it would apply to the Juvenile Court for a Care and Protection Order (CPO).

In its application, the CPS provides the court with a case summary, which includes the background of the case, an assessment of the risk to the child, and recommendations on appropriate care arrangements.


Before, the parents would only get to know of the concerns raised in the case summary when they either approached or were summoned to the court.

Now the MCYS would inform the parents of their findings before going to court. The parents will have a clear idea as to why their child has been placed under a CPO.

The spokesman said: “In light of the recommendation by Justice V K Rajah, the CPS will henceforth provide the case summary to the parents prior to the hearing.”

The changes were prompted last Monday, when the High Court Judge decided to overthrow a decision made by the Juvenile Court earlier, and return custody of a 7-year-old girl to her parents.

This was after an appeal by the parents.

In August, the girl was taken away by the CPS during school hours and placed in a children’s home for assessment away from her mother.

The parents cannot be named to protect the daughter.

When contacted yesterday, the girl’s mother, 40, claimed she knew her child was taken away only after the deed, when a MCYS officer informed her over the phone.

The mother, a housewife, claimed she was not told why her child was taken away, and was only instructed to go to the Juvenile Court in the afternoon that day.

When we informed the mother of the change in procedure, she was pleased and said it was “about time” the change took place.

She said: “Society has changed, and there are a new category of parents who are educated, and are more informed. I’m glad that the Ministry has reviewed their policy, and improved.”

Last month, Juvenile Court Judge Wong Li Tein decided that both parents were to refrain from having any form of access to the girl without prior approval from the CPS.

Both parents were not to visit the girl at the children’s home, or school and its vicinity.

In the girl’s absence, they were to address any concerns regarding her care, education and welfare directly to the CPS and not at the children’s home or school.

The mother was allowed to see her daughter in late August in the MCYS building at Thomson Road. In court last month, V K Rajah expressed concern about court procedures regarding Child Protection Orders, noting that parents were not given a copy of the case summary.

The couple said that they had not known why they were being hauled to court, and were given no opportunity to respond.

The MCYS spokesman said that there is still a Care and Protection Order on the girl, but it has been amended to place her in the care of the parents pending a further review.

It is understood that such a review will take place in two months.

He said: “During this time, the CPS will continue to engage the parents and provide all necessary assistance to the child and family.”

After the High Court’s decision, the mother claimed she could now take her daughter to and from school, as long as she doesn’t stay in the school.

She said her daughter now stays with her and her production worker husband in a rented room.

When asked how her daughter was doing, the mother said her daughter was doing fine and was preparing for her exams.

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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