Social workers did not suspect that Chin Swee Road toddler had gone missing: Desmond Lee
Lee said that a two-year-old would generally have no interaction with agencies on a regular basis.
Social workers who were in contact with the family of the two-year-old victim in the Chin Swee Road murder case did not suspect that the child had gone missing, or had come to any harm.
This was disclosed by Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee, who fielded several questions about the case posed by Members of Parliament (MPs) in a written reply in Parliament on Monday (Oct. 7).
Girl’s family said she was being looked after by relatives
According to Lee, the girl’s birth was registered by the ICA, but her disappearance was not detected by social workers as “a two-year-old child will generally have no interaction, on a regular basis, with agencies”.
Lee said that based on what her family had said at the time, and their interactions with the different agencies, the officers and social workers did not suspect that the child had gone missing.
Nor did they suspect she had come to any harm.
Lee added that the family had said the child was being looked after by relatives.
But as the case is still under investigation, Lee did not go into specifics, and said that more details will be given in court.
Family had contact with various agencies
However, Lee did say, as it has previously been reported, that the family had contact with various government and community agencies over the years, including:
- the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF)’s Social Service Office (SSO),
- the Child Protective Service, which ascertains whether the children living in the household are adequately provided for, and works with the family to put in place plans to address various concerns,
- Home Team agencies,
- the Ministry of Education (MOE),
- the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA), and also
- a family service centre.
ECDA involved in pre-school outreach programme
ECDA engaged the family as part of a pre-school outreach programme, which contacts lower-income families with children not enrolled in pre-school.
Lee mentioned that MOE has several measures to reach out to parents who do not register their children for Primary 1, including sending reminder letters and sending liaison officers to make home visits.
Lee added that if a child is not staying with their parents, MOE will work with various agencies to try to contact the caregivers of the child.
Other children are under alternative care arrangements
The male suspect and father of the deceased, who cannot be named due to a gag order, has been remanded for psychiatric observation.
According to CNA, he is facing three pending charges, including one for rioting with four others in 2018, before he was charged with murder.
Meanwhile, the mother, who also cannot be named, is serving a jail sentence of five years and two months for drug-related offences and theft.
CNA reported on Oct. 1 that she was also remanded for psychiatric observation.
Minister Lee also assured MPs that the couple’s other children are all under alternative care arrangements, and that the MSF will continue to provide the necessary support to ensure the children’s safety and welfare.
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