Concurrent Session 1:
Innovations, Inspirations & Sustainability Of Asian Family Services
Programme Review of the Financial Management and Support Programme to Low-Income Families with Debt Issues
This is a post hoc review of Social Service Agency A's financial management and support programme, held from 2016 to 2019, for a period of six months each year. There are three segments to the programme, 1) Four programme workshop sessions that cover topics on money management, practical tips to save utilities, and understanding and resolving debt issues from legal and illegal money lenders; 2) Home visits; and 3) Family Day.
The study employed in-depth interviews with past participants to (re)design the next run of the programme with grounded understanding of the challenges and successes of low-income families in managing their debt issues. The results showed that while the programme concluded, many of the participants continue to be challenged with debt issues. Despite the challenge, the participants highlighted the need to have a regular source of income and to apply strategies to cope with their finances.
The findings suggest that the topic on debt is stigmatising and poses a barrier among participants in seeking help. The monetary incentives provided via the programme encouraged and motivated participation. While there are challenges among low-families with debt issues, there are success stories too, giving hope that experiencing debt issues is not the end.
Strengthening Marital and Family Relationships through an Upstream, Integrated, Regional, and Multi-Disciplinary Approach: Strengthening Families Programme@Family Service Centre (FAM@FSC)
At Singapore's Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), we believe in building strong and resilient families. Our policies, programmes and initiatives are designed to serve this common purpose. One initiative is the Strengthening Families Programme@Family Service Centre (FAM@FSC). Launched in 2021, FAM@FSC provides holistic and upstream support targeted at all couples and families. It does so by bringing together early-risk marriage support for minor, young, and transnational couples, divorce support, and family counselling under one roof. With the new family counselling service, early and accessible help was made available to families. Within the first six months, we saw promising results. For example, many couples who were considering divorce had instead decided to work on strengthening their marriage after receiving counselling support.
As part of the programme implementation, the team worked with partners to develop a referral guide to ensure seamless referrals and client-centricity. Riding on the FAM@FSC platform, we introduced new programmes and services, including a new online counselling service, a tailored Continuing Education and Training (CET) programme i.e. MSF-Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) Family Counselling Certification Programme, an online resource portal for couples, Pre-Action Mediation and Discernment Counselling.
Parental Involvement and Positive Parental Expectations as Key Success Factors Associated with Children's School Readiness
KelasMateMatika (KMM) is a programme that aims to provide parents with children between the ages of four and six with Mediated Learning Experience (MLE) skills so that they can be effective mediators for their children's learning, thus increasing their likelihood to be school ready. In this analysis, the term ‘school-ready’ refers to students who did not have contact with learning support programmes (LSM/LSP) upon entering Primary 1. Taking reference from the RE-AIM evaluation framework, the present analysis of this intervention (n=336) reaffirmed the programme design focusing on the important role of parental involvement, as it found that children from families that completed this programme were less likely to require learning support when they start school. In this context, completion could be considered as a proxy for parental involvement in their children's learning. Among those who did not complete the programme, positive parental expectations of their mathematical abilities were associated with them being school-ready. In sum, the evaluation of KMM has identified that parental involvement and positive parental expectations as key success factors associated with children being deemed school ready. Hence, it is important for practitioners to provide flexible course delivery to make it easier for families to participate and be exposed to MLE skills as well as encouraging a growth mindset among parents so that they will perceive their children's mathematical abilities to be malleable.
Concurrent Session 2:
Children And Adolescents: Growth, Development, And Special Needs
Childhood Trauma Matters: Understanding Typologies of Childhood Traumatic Experiences and Associations with Internalizing Symptoms Among Young Adults
Childhood Traumatic Experiences (CTEs) consistently predict a variety of internalizing symptoms in later life. Despite mounting strong evidence about the association between CTEs and internalizing symptoms, there is a paucity of empirical knowledge on how different classes of CTEs influence problematic internalizing symptoms among young adults in Singapore. In this study, 1,042 university students answered self-report questionnaires regarding their CTEs and current internalizing symptoms.
CTEs consist of seven domains of maltreated experiences and bullying victimization in childhood. Latent Class Analysis was used to determine four distinct latent classes of CTEs: Low CTEs, high/multiple CTEs, abuse/victimization, and physical and emotional neglect. Our findings that revealed students in the latter three CTEs classes were more likely than those in the Low CTEs class to report most of the internalizing symptoms. The two most common types of CTEs were childhood emotional neglect (CEN; 74.6%) followed by childhood emotional abuse (CEA; 61%). Male students reported higher childhood physical abuse compared to female students; contrarily, female students' CEA was twice of that of male students. These findings indicate the importance of protecting children from CTEs, and cushioning the adverse effects of CTEs on victims by providing timely intervention and improvements to current programs and practices.
Quality of Life of Children and Youth in Singapore: Potential Points of Intervention
From 2018 - 2019, the National Council of Social Service (NCSS) conducted the Children and Youth Quality of Life (QOL) study which surveyed over 10,000 children and youth, comprising those without conditions and those with health/ developmental conditions.
Children and youth with health or developmental conditions, particularly those with mental health conditions, showed lower QOL domain scores than their peers without conditions. They also faced challenges in the areas of independence and social inclusion due to their conditions. For children and youth without conditions, highest scoring QOL domains were in the domains of Social Acceptance and Moods and Emotions.
Network models for children and youth with and without conditions identified psychological well-being as a potential point of intervention. For children and youth with conditions, hierarchical regressions further showed that social inclusion was the coping-related factor that would make the strongest contribution to improving QOL across multiple domains.
Runs (in) the Family: The Impact of ADHD on Family Relationships and Children's Coping
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a heritable condition. It can have a far-reaching impact on individuals and families, contributing to poor coping, parent-child conflict, and parenting stress. These findings were echoed in the first community survey of ADHD in Singapore. 309 parents of children with ADHD recruited through community groups completed an online survey examining the challenges their children faced. 32% of parents reported that their child had engaged in self-harm or had suicidal thoughts. Logistic regression indicated that children who had self-harmed or had suicidal thoughts were more likely to have problems with individual functioning (OR=1.1) and comorbidities (OR=1.9) than children without said history.
79% of parents reported that ADHD affected family relationships adversely, and 52% had disagreements about parenting. According to ordinal regression, significant predictors of the child's ability to cope with ADHD included knowledge about ADHD (OR=1.29), problems with the child's individual functioning (OR=.90) and the negative impact of ADHD on family relationships (OR=.68). Although ADHD has a negative impact upon the family, it is precisely family support that is critical in supporting better outcomes in children with ADHD. Interventions should focus on strengthening parent-child relationships and increasing parents' knowledge of ADHD.
Co-Parenting Styles and the Impact on Child's Well-Being
When couples divorce, families and their children will inevitably be impacted. However, research evidence on co-parenting styles after parental divorce in the Singapore context is limited. This presentation will share the findings from our research which was conducted jointly with the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS), where we examine how Singaporean couples who divorce subsequently co-parent, what are their co-parenting styles, and examine the relationships between the various co-parenting styles and arrangements and the child's well-being.
Concurrent Session 3:
Good Family Practices
School Attendance Among Low-Income Children: Exploring Parents' and Children's Perspectives
Empirical findings show that children from low socioeconomic status (SES) tend to have poor attendance and premature school leaving (e.g., Kearney, 2008; Morrissey et al., 2014). Despite the challenges presented by their low SES, some children manage to attend school on a regular basis. This practice research aims to understand the factors that contribute to regular school attendance amongst children from low-income families.
Utilizing an exploratory qualitative research method, in-depth interviews were carried out to understand school attendance beliefs and strategies in eighteen parent-child pairs (n=36). Eleven parent-child pairs had children with regular attendance, while seven parent-child pairs had children with irregular attendance. Interviews were conducted separately, to provide children the space to share their thoughts independently.
Findings revealed that parents of children with irregular and regular attendance believed that education was important. However, they differed in the ways in which this belief was conveyed to their children and how it was operationalized in day-to-day schooling matters. In addition, the findings showed that families with regular attendance had a stronger belief in the connection that schooling led to a better future. Implications for practice include relevance for interventions and policies to enable regular attendance are also discussed.
Parenting Stress of Asian Parents and Children's Behavioral Problems During Covid-19 Pandemic: A Meta-Analysis of Studies
During the pandemic, many parents in Asia were working remotely from home while facing new demands of home-based schooling. These demands were even greater for parents who must additionally care for children with chronic behavioral problems or disabilities. Parenting stress is a key determinant of parenting practices. Since parenting contributes in important ways to the course of child development, it is important to understand the impact of parenting stress on children and parents. This study is a meta-analysis of fifty studies looking at the associations between parenting stress and children's behaviors and parenting outcomes. We compared these associations between Asian and non-Asian parents and also examined differences across clinical samples, lock-down circumstances, and sociodemographics.
We found medium effect sizes (r = .43-.55) in the associations between parenting stress and negative parenting and children's behavioral problems. Differences in effect sizes were also found between Asian and Western families. Experiences during lockdowns is a stressful experience for parents who have to balance work and parenting, with reduced help. This situation potentially impairs their ability to be supportive caregivers and is consequently detrimental for children well-being. Policies should take into consideration the long-term implications of the pandemic for parents and tailor supportive interventions.
Social Capital of Cross-National Families with Low Income: Support From Siblings In-Law for Foreign Spouses
In the recent few decades, Singapore and other high-income countries in Asia have witnessed a growing number of cross-national marriages. Singapore Department of Statistics reported that about 25% of new marriages in 2019 involved a citizen and a non-resident. Cross-national families with low income, which are typically formed by marriage between working-class Singaporean men and non-citizen women from lower-income Asian countries, have drawn public attention for their psychosocial vulnerabilities. Based on the strength perspective, this study explored foreign spouses' social support received from their local in-laws, as a form of social capital. In-depth individual qualitative interviews were conducted with 18 China-national spouses from low-income cross-national families, recruited through social service agencies in Singapore. Results from thematic analysis uncovered that compared with parents in-law, the foreign spouses felt much closer to their siblings in-law and appreciated the siblings in-law's higher capacity of providing information and advice, emotional support and socialization support. Local in-laws were also instrumental in connecting foreign spouses to formal support. We recommend that social intervention programs for low-income cross-national families and their foreign spouses make a comprehensive assessment of social support from local in-laws and utilize it for foreign spouses' integration and the families' healthy functioning.
Investigating The Relationship Between Parental Adverse Childhood Experiences and Children's Behaviors: The Dominant Role of Harsh Parenting
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are events that a young person finds highly stressful; these surface after the children in question become parents themselves. For example, children who have gone through ACEs are more likely to adopt harsh parenting styles. The current study examines the role of harsh parenting on the relationship between parental ACEs and their children's behaviors. Using probability proportional to size sampling, we collected and analyzed cases of 4,521 parents of children between 6-12 years old relating to their childhood experiences, child-rearing behaviors, and children's behaviors via a self-reported questionnaire. Our Hierarchical Linear Regression Models showed that parental ACEs significantly predict children's aggressive behaviors and attention problems after adjusting the relevant covariates. In addition, we found that harsh parenting is a significant risk factor for all the children's behaviors we measured with observed increased R2 and significant F changes, including social problems, aggressive behaviors, attention problems, and withdrawn. Compared to parental ACEs, our study showed that harsh parenting has a greater impact on children's behaviors. Programs that help parents to adopt better parenting styles could benefit children's well-being and reduce problem behaviors due to harsh parenting.
Concurrent Session 4:
Innovations, Inspirations & Sustainability Of Asian Family Services
From 3A to 4A
The Asian Award for Advancing Family Well-Being Project (3A Project) was launched in 2010 and since then occurring every other year. It has been recognized as one of CIFA's most significant, valuable, sustainable activities, especially in the spirit of “Aspiration for Sustainability, Innovation, and Applicability” (ASIA). The Project actualizes CIFA's mission and vision by creating a platform for transdisciplinary collaboration and exchange while recognizing outstanding and innovative projects. Against that background and with over ten-year establishment of the Wofoo 3A Project, CIFA collaborated with Dr. Vivian Lou of the University of Hong Kong to conduct the Study on Best Practices and Social Impacts of Wofoo 3A Project. The findings of the Study clearly indicate that the 3A Project has achieved its mission and vision to provide a platform for transdisciplinary collaboration with the ultimate goal to strengthen family functioning and promote family health. On the solid grounds developed so far, further efforts have been undertaken to produce more synergy by appealing for active involvement from more countries and regions in Asia, as well as from sectors other than social services. Thus, the idea of moving 3A to 4A has been adopted to further advance our work done. The 4A means “Alliance”. A strengthened platform/ forum/ network to facilitate trans-disciplinary/ organizational collaboration and exchange among like-minded people/organization to further actualise the spirit of ASIA. Thus, this presentation aims to introduce the work progress of “Alliance” work done and hopefully to invite participants who attend the 2022 CIFA symposium to join this Alliance and continue to explore better collaborative efforts in promoting our vision and mission in enhancing family-well-being work in the ASIAN region.
Discovering the Hidden Youth in Singapore: Novel Outreach Approaches Used by Fei Yue Community Services
Hidden youth are youth who withdraw from society for at least six months, with mental illness not the primary cause for their isolation. Youth who experience extensive social isolation are more likely to have poorer physical health and quality of life, conflictual family relationships, and are at greater risk of developing mental health issues.
In view of the increasing number of hidden youth, Fei Yue Community Services developed the first specialised intervention for hidden youth in Singapore- the Hidden Youth Outreach Service- to support families and integrate youth back to school or employment. Since 2019, 25 hidden youth and their families have been supported through family interventions, interest-based activities, and novel outreach strategies through platforms like games and social media.
This presentation will describe the profile of the 25 hidden youth supported by the outreach service and share insights on effective practices when working with hidden youths and their families. These insights were gleaned from focus group discussions conducted with 15 practitioners journeying with hidden youths and their families. Effective practices include establishing close working relationships and setting boundaries with parents, managing parents' expectations of what interventions could achieve, and using alternative engagement methods like delivering food to the youth.
Wonderful Life Workshop: Design of Life Review Followed by Forward Planning for End-Of-Life Matters Helped Seniors to Face Inevitable Death with Acceptance
Life Point is a community project by Society of Sheng Hong Welfare Services. In 2018, Life Point designed and conducted 18 rounds of 8-session Wonderful Life Workshop to promote life and death education amongst seniors in the community with sponsorship from NECDC. The workshop aimed to help seniors achieve ego-integrity and empower them to do forward planning of end-of-life matters by (1) life review process and (2) preparation for a “good death”. Social work trained facilitators led close group with group size ranging from 6 to 10 seniors. The 2-hour session for 8 weeks consisted of dyad discussions, experiential games, personal sharing and reflection. Life Satisfaction Index A was administered for Part (1) to measure the changes in ego-integrity. 27 out of 124 participants (21.8%) showed significant positive changes derived from pre and post-test. Death Attitude Profile-Revised was administered for the Part (2) to measure the changes of death acceptance in five domains, namely Fear of Death, Death Avoidance, Approach Acceptance, Escape Acceptance and Neutral Acceptance. The findings showed 85.2% of those achieved better ego-integrity after life review showed improvement in at least one domain stated above. This implied better ego-integrity leads to greater death acceptance.
Concurrent Session 5:
Family Research And Policy Impact
Domestic Violence During the Covid-19 Pandemic: A Synthesis of Systematic Review Evidence
Since the emergence of COVID-19 as a global pandemic, nearly every country worldwide has enforced several protection measures and heightened restrictive social distancing measures as a means of limiting public interactions. While the government-imposed national protection measures were necessary to control the spread of the infection, there has been growing concern that these restrictive measures may exacerbate the risk of domestic violence (DV) since movement restrictions and lockdown measures have forced DV victims to spend more time at home with their abusers. In the context of COVID-19, there has been increasing interest around the world in DH offenses and the characteristics of perpetrators and victims, as evidenced in part by the increase in the number of primary research studies in this area. The findings of a large body of the available primary literature have already been summarized in several systematic reviews. It is arguably imperative to synthesize the overarching findings of systematic reviews on DV, with the hope of further advancing the efforts of both researchers and policymakers in preventing DV during the ongoing COVID-19 and future extreme events. The current systematic meta-review was designed to map out, characterize, and analyze all of the empirical knowledge on DV in the context of COVID-19. Specifically, a systematic meta-review was conducted with three main objectives: (1) to identify what types and aspects of DV during COVID-19 have been reviewed systematically to date (research trends), (2) to synthesize the findings from recent systematic reviews of the theoretical and empirical literature (main findings), and (3) to contemplate what systematic reviewers have proposed about implications for policy and practice as well as future primary research (implications). Lastly, based on the synthesis findings, this study concludes with recommendations for future systematic review research on the topic of DV within a pandemic context. Despite its methodological limitations, this systematic meta-review does offer a first comprehensive look at the research landscape in this area. This will allow scholars, practitioners, and policymakers to recognize initial patterns in DV during COVID-19 and identify overlooked areas that need to be studied and understood further, and adjustments to methods that can lead to more robust studies.
Housing From a Relational Lens : A Profiling Study of Families Using Clinical Data Mining
Housing stability has always been a key focus for Singapore, with policies supporting accessible and affordable housing, and social interventions for those struggling with housing instability. In particular, the detrimental effects of housing instability on families are of concern, especially those with vulnerable populations, which warrants the need to understand their varied profiles to better support them.
This study explored the profiles of families undergoing housing instability and were referred to a shelter for displaced families. Clinical data mining methodology was used to explore the profile demographics, housing characteristics and service usage patterns of 208 families referred over a two-year period. Out of the 208 families, 161 of them were families with children, with majority of them having children aged 12 and below.
Study findings offered valuable insights into potential risk indicators of housing instability, which emphasize the need to assess and understand housing struggles for families through the lens of relationship issues, beyond resource constraints. Findings also suggest the value of early intervention in minimizing risk of housing instability, especially for families with younger children, and the importance of a whole-of-society approach in doing so. Key implications for early intervention at practice and policy level will be discussed.
What's Behind The Clutter? An Exploratory Study on Social Work Professionals' Management of Hoarding Cases in Montfort Care
Hoarding disorder is the excessive acquisition of, and persistent difficulty in discarding possessions regardless of its actual value. Social Work Professionals (SWPs) work with persons with hoarding behavior. However, there is no established literature documenting social work interventions. This study examines SWPs' rationale for decluttering, types of hoarding interventions and its effectiveness. This study hopes to generate an internal hoarding management guidelines for SWPs.
Ten SWPs with eight months to 12 years of experience participated in a three-hour Focus Group Discussion (FGD) held via Zoom to understand the hoarding interventions used. A short-survey administered evaluated two proposed hoarding interventions. The session was transcribed and analyzed using inductive thematic analysis.
Decluttering arise from safety and health risk of living in a cluttered home, stakeholders' pressure and SWPs lack of knowledge on alternative interventions. Rapport building, service linkage and communication with stakeholders were commonly used interventions. Challenges faced include client's lack of insight and lack of clear inter-agency hoarding management protocols. SWPs hoped for stronger collaborations between stakeholders and more hoarding-related training.
Further research to evaluate hoarding management by SWPs in Singapore is important to necessitate timely and cost-effective intervention. This study has implications on legislation and national efforts to curb hoarding behavior.
Empowering Asian Families by Embracing the Challenge of Elders' Death
Like much of East Asia, Japan faces an increasing mortality rate as population ages.
When no family is available to claim the corpse and estate, officials face many problems. When families survive an elder's death, their ensuing psychological, physical, and economic problems further burden the public medical/welfare system.
We conducted a nationwide survey of bereaved Japanese families to determine their levels of grief, their psychological, physical, and economic complaints, their use of public medical and pharmacy services, and factors that could be targeted for prevention or intervention. Of 5500 questionnaires distributed by the National Funeral Directors Cooperative, we received 1078 completed responses, which we statistically analysed for correlations.
Unsurprisingly, bereaved family members feeling “shock” at the death were likeliest to exhibit psychological and physical problems that require medical attention. Surprisingly, these deaths were not suicides nor accidents; the greatest “shock” came from cancer death—typically a process of many months in Japan. In other words, doctors need to communicate more realistically in advance to families that their loved ones' diseases may be fatal, so that families do prepare themselves psychologically and economically for life after bereavement. Reducing this “shock” of death should improve family resilience and health.
Concurrent Session 6:
Changing Asian Families In The New Era
Time Poverty Mediates the Effects of Low Wage on Work-Life Conflict and Psychological Well-Being
Research on time poverty is nascent, although theoretically it should be an important factor of work-life-balance, which in turn affects psychological well-being. We conceptualize work-based time poverty along three dimensions: long working hours, inflexible or uncertain hours, and inhospitable hours. Hypothesizing that individuals in low-wage work are more time poor, our paper studies the mediating effects of:
- time poverty on the relationship between low wage and work-life-conflict, and
- work-life-conflict on the relationship between time poverty and two psychological well-being outcomes: anxiety and self-efficacy.
We do this through structural equation modelling of data from a study of work-life challenges among workers aged 21 to 39 in Singapore. The focus on younger workers uncovers the particular challenges faced when young people are launching their careers and families, at the same time that being junior members of organizations might subject them more greatly to time poverty.
We found that low wage young workers are indeed more time poor, and that time poverty and work-life-conflict are significant mediators between low wage and both anxiety and self-efficacy. The results suggest the need to work with policy and employers to address workplace time poverty challenges that are beyond what young workers themselves can control.
Family Experiences, Histories and Indigenous Teenage Mothers(ITM) in Taiwan: A Life Course Perspective
The Indigenous teenage (15-19 years) fertility rate in Hualien county in 2019 was 4.8 times for all Taiwanese females, with a trend of declining age and low abortion rate. Teenage pregnancy has strong negative impacts on their future development, which requires proactive prevention strategies. Current system, however, has failed to provide effective strategies by overlooking an indigenous approach and understanding the complexity of family experiences and histories. A semi-longitudinal study was designed to gain a fuller understanding of ITM's family experiences and histories from a life course perspective, and to collect data from 24 indigenous mothers from different generations. The Preliminary results showed that: (1) the majority of interviewees have similar familial and individual experiences, such as rural to urban migration, different forms of trauma, poverty, high school drop-out, low levels of cultural and social capitals; (2) family violence and teenager pregnancy pass on from one generation to another in families; (3) teenage pregnancy which reflects the complexity of intersectionality of indigenous families is seen as a strategy to resist and get out of family tangle. The paper ended by making both policy and practice recommendations.
A Mixed Methods Study of a Brief Mindfulness-Based Family Psychoeducation for Early Psychosis
Family Psychoeducation (FPE) is a major component in the treatment of psychosis. However, emphasis was placed on outcomes of persons in recovery, but its benefit on caregivers was neglected. A Brief Mindfulness-Based Family Psychoeducation (MBFPE) is developed for reducing caregivers' burden. A randomized controlled trial is conducted for caregivers of young adults who experienced first episode psychosis within last 3 years. Programme effectiveness is assessed by comparing the mental health outcomes of caregivers after the programme and at 9-month follow-up between MBFPE and ordinary FPE. A qualitative approach, Photovoice, is applied to explore the caregiver's subjective experiences and the perceived benefits of mindfulness. Preliminary results of 48 caregivers showed small effect sizes of improvements in depression (Cohen's d = .26 from baseline to post-test, and .31 from baseline to 9-month follow-up) in MBFPE. Caregivers completing MBFPE showed more decrease in stigma and an increase in positive caring experiences than those from FPE, although such differences did not reach statistical significance. Qualitative analysis of caregiver's photos and their sharing in MBFPE identified six voices regarding caregivers' mindfulness and caregiving experience are identified. Data collection continues until October 2022 and more updated analysis will be reported in the symposium.