Singapore Children’s Society is celebrating 65 years of bringing relief and happiness to children in need!
Where We Are Today
Today, Children's Society operates 11 service centres islandwide, offering services in the four categories of: Vulnerable Children Services, Children and Youth Services, Family Services, and Research and Advocacy.
The Very Beginning
Founded in 1952, Children’s Society was established during the post-war years of Singapore to provide shelter, comfort and relief to the children. During those initial years, children were sickly and malnourished, and parents often lacked the means or education to provide proper care.
This was highlighted by a group of
expatriates and concerned citizens in a letter to The Straits Times on 6
February 1952, which called for the formation of a body to look into the
welfare of children.
Singapore Children's Society protects and nurtures children and youth of all races and religions. In 2015, the Society reached out to 67,577 children, youth and families in need. Throughout the years of Singapore’s growth and development, its services have evolved to meet the changing needs of children.
The 1950s: Our Formative Years
In our formative years of the 1950s in post-war Singapore, we opened the Convalescent Home (later renamed Sunbeam Place) along Nicoll Drive in Changi, on the site where the airport now stands. It was the first such facility to be opened in Southeast Asia at that time.
We also hired our first social workers, who stayed on the premises and were available to the children 24 hours of the day.
The 1960s: Increasing Depth and Breadth of Services
The 1960s was a time of increasing depth and breadth that laid the foundations for our work today. We expanded the Convalescent Home to cater to more children in 1962 and started to look at a broader range of children’s issues.
A Pilot Play Project was conducted in 1966 at Everton Park estate, providing a supervised play service for children and laid the foundation for the Society’s expansion into community outreach programmes.
Our first Social Work Service Centre in Toa Payoh opened in June 1969 to serve families facing difficulties, similar to our family service centre today.
Our work today has evolved with the changes in Singapore, but they continue today with your generous support and donations.
The 1970s: Openness to Change in Changing Times
“They are going to have a chance of better education than their elders. We have got more resources now. But we are depriving them of care. What do we substitute for mothers’ care in those working hours?” – Mr Lee Kuan Yew, then-Prime Minister speaking on the new phenomenon of latchkey children in 1977.
Singapore was changing, and we responded with openness to change. More women were joining the workforce, and children were left on their own after school. We responded by pioneering the Latchkey Child Development Centre, which later evolved to become today’s Student Care Centre.
The 1980s: Caring for Emotional Health
In the 1980s, as Singapore became more affluent and issues such as malnutrition had faded, it made it possible for us to focus on the emotional health of children, by increasing the amount of different safe spaces available for children to express themselves, and be protected.
Our Tinkle Friend Helpline opened in 1984, and provided lonely children with someone to talk to, share their thoughts, and confide in.
In 1988, as we looked further into the emotional well-being of children, the Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Standing Committee (now Research and Advocacy Standing Committee) was formed. In the same year, our Convalescent Home (later renamed Sunbeam Place) was also gazetted as a place of safety for children who have been abused and neglected and in need of protection, or whose parents are unable to provide proper care.
The 1990s: Moving with Schools and Families
The 1990s was a time when we moved into understanding and serving children in their daily living environments of school and family.
Children’s Society became one of the pioneering voluntary welfare organisations to set up a Family Service Centre in Singapore in 1990, to assist families in need and help children improve their family environments.
We launched the first Project CABIN, a school-based drop-in programme, at Westlake Secondary School in 1994 which aims to create a special place for students to hang out after school, engage in activities, forge friendships, and most importantly, feel comfortable in a place that welcomes the students and makes them feel at home.
Today, we have 17 Project CABIN
schools across Singapore, allowing our youth workers to reach out to youth more
effectively as they spend the bulk of their time in school.
To understand our children better, we started doing research, and in 1997 published our first research monograph, titled ‘Public Perceptions of Child Abuse and Neglect’.
In 1998, we started the Vulnerable Witness Support Programme (later renamed Vulnerable Witness Support Persons Programme) with the then-Subordinate Courts.
The 2000s: Service Innovation
Entering a new millennium, Children’s Society aimed to continue innovating in terms of how we serve our beneficiaries in the 2000s.
It started with our first youth drop-in centre, RoundBox @ Singapore Children's Society in 2000. With our experience in conceptualising and operating youth centres, we were appointed as Centre of Specialisation for Youth Drop-in Centres by the National Council of Social Service in 2008.
In 2006, our Convalescent Home moved to its current location in Choa Chu Kang and was renamed Sunbeam Place, with the intention of placing the home in a more densely populated location, and better suited to prepare children to go back home to their families.
For our innovative work in the 2000s, we were conferred the inaugural NCSS Outstanding VWO Award in Innovation (Special Mention).
Raising Funds for the Future
As we grew and expanded to care for more children and their various needs, Children’s Society needed to come up with new ways to raise the funds to serve our beneficiaries.
In 2009, we launched the 1000 Enterprises for Children-in-Need programme, encouraging companies to take part in corporate giving.
In 2014, the 1000 Philanthropists programme was launched. The intention is to remind the public that philanthropy is something everyone with the means to give can do, and not only for the wealthy.
As Singapore Children’s Society continues to expand its services to reach out to more children, youth and families in need, please support with a donation today. All donations are gratefully accepted and we hope you can help us generously. Thank you.