Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) v GCF

CourtYouth Court (Singapore)
JudgeEugene Tay
Judgment Date22 March 2018
Neutral Citation[2018] SGYC 1
Citation[2018] SGYC 1
Docket NumberYOUTH COURT APPEAL, YA 001/2018/01, CASE NO. CPO 000016/2018
Plaintiff CounselMs D,
Defendant CounselMs E,,Mr F,
District Judge Eugene Tay: Introduction

This appeal is brought by the mother, Ms B (“the Mother”) of the child, GCF (“the Child”) against interim orders (“the Interim Orders”) made by this Court on 9 February 2018 pursuant to an application brought by Child Protective Service (“CPS”), Ministry of Social and Family Development, Singapore (“MSF”) to this Court under section 49 of the Children and Young Persons Act, Cap. 38 (“CYPA”) for a care and protection order for the Child (“the Application”), paraphrased as follows: The Child to be placed under the supervision of an approved welfare officer until 6 April 2018 under section 49(1)(d) of the CYPA; Access between the Child and the Mother and/or significant others to be subjected to the approval and review by the approved welfare officer under section 49(2) of the CYPA; The Child to reside with the Father. A protective adult, subjected to the approval and review of the approved welfare officer, to reside with the Child under section 49(2) of the CYPA; The approved welfare officer or any other personnel from the school, social service agencies or family service centres involved with the Child and the family shall be permitted to conduct announced and unannounced home visits to ensure the safety and well-being of the Child under section 49(2) of the CYPA; The parents to discuss safety plans and care-giving arrangements with the approved welfare officer under section 49(2) of the CYPA; The parents shall not, by themselves or any other person, perform or allow to be performed any act that would compromise the safety and well-being of the Child under section 49(2) of the CYPA; Medical professionals to release medical reports of the Mother to the approved welfare officer under section 49(2) of the CYPA; The parents shall execute a bond of $2,000.00 each to exercise proper care and guardianship of the Child under s49(1)(a) of the CYPA; The parents shall execute a bond of $2,000.00 each to undergo any psychiatric/psychological assessment/treatment and/or counselling programme as deemed necessary by the approved welfare officer under s51(1) of the CYPA.

I now set out the grounds for the Interim Orders.

Background

CPS, MSF, through the child protection officer Ms D (“CPO”), took out the Application in this Court on 9 February 2018. The Mother was represented by Ms E while the father, Mr C (“the Father”) was represented by Mr F.

After the Application was brought, the Court called for a social report to be prepared by CPS and presented to the Court on 6 April 2018. After hearing from the parents (through their counsel) and the CPO, the Court also passed the Interim Orders (stated at [1] above), effective till 6 April 2018, pending the preparation of the social report.

At the time the Application was taken out, there were the following applications which were pending in the Family Court: FC/OSG 12/2018 – The Father’s application for joint custody and sole care and control of the Child, with the Mother to have supervised access, as well as the Mother to attend psychiatric evaluation and receive psychiatric treatment; FC/SUM 223/2018 – The Father’s application for the Mother to return the Child to the Father and if necessary, for the Child to be discharged from XXX as well as interim joint custody with care and control to the Father; FC/SUM 328/2018 – The Mother’s application for sole care and control of the Child, with the Father to have supervised access, the Mother to arrange the discharge and take the Child from XXX to reside with her, the Father to be restrained from removing the Child from her care and from the jurisdiction and from taking steps to prevent the Mother and the Child from residing in the matrimonial home, as well as maintenance for the Child; FC/SUM 417/2018 – The Mother’s application for leave to file a further affidavit by the Mother’s psychiatrist; (collectively, “the Family Court Summonses”)

In addition, at the time the Application was taken out on 9 February 2018, the Family Court Summonses had gone through various case conferences in the Family Court and were fixed for further case conference on 14 February 2018. There were also existing orders passed by the Family Court during a case conference on 26 January 2018 for the status quo (i.e. the Child to remain at XXX and the parents to have equal access time unless the parents agree otherwise) to remain.

The Child Protector’s position

CPS brought the Application via a complaint dated 9 February 2018 (“the Complaint”). In the Complaint, it was stated that the grounds for the Application was section 4(d)(ii) of the CYPA. Subsequently in Court, the CPO clarified that the Application was instead based on sections 4(d)(i) and 4(g) of the CYPA1.

The Complaint

The Child was referred to CPS on 19 January 2018 for concerns raised over his safety while he was under the care of the parents. It was reported that since October 2017, the Child was exposed to and physically triangulated when the Mother was physically violent towards the Father, and there were also concerns over the impact of the Mother’s mental state on her ability to provide adequate and appropriate care for the Child in view of the Mother’s history of mental health issues.

CPS reported that the concerns noted during CPS’s investigation included concerns over the Child’s exposure to spousal violence between the parents, concerns over the Mother’s mental health and hence the concerns over her ensuring safe care for the Child, and CPS’s difficulties in engaging the Mother on a safe discharge plan for the Child. CPS further set out the concerns and circumstances leading to the invocation of the Protector’s Order...

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