Ms. Chuang’s story: Balancing childcare, eldercare with employment

May 27, 2016

child-mother-silhouetteMs. Chuang is 33 years old, lives with her parents, two brothers and her 1-year-old son. She is sharing a room with her mother and her son. Ms. Chuang first got married when she was 22. During that marriage, she had lived with her in-laws. After about six years, Ms. Chuang and her ex-husband divorced because they were quarrelling about the fact that they could not have children. After the divorce, Ms. Chuang moved back to her parents’ house.

Later, Ms. Chuang met the father of her son, a man from China. When Ms. Chuang got pregnant, he kept forcing her to get an abortion; he wanted her to end the pregnancy because he was already married in China, which he did not tell Ms. Chuang before. When she asked him for some kind of maintenance, he only gave her SG$100.

Ms. Chuang went to MPs and to the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) to get support. She received some NTUC vouchers, diapers and financial assistance for a few months, but it was not enough. Ms. Chuang was struggling financially, even though she had a job as a sales assistant in a rotation shift with only one day off per week.

Ms. Chuang is not able to send her son to childcare because of her financial difficulties. Her elderly mother tries to watch him but it is too tough on her. Her mother has already suffered from a stroke and was diagnosed with cancer before and is too weak; she has dropped her son a few times already. This is a dangerous situation for both Ms. Chuang’s mother and her son, the possibility of physical injuries always imminent. Ms. Chuang has concerns about his academic future: she fears he will not be able to keep up with certain basic skills, like speaking, because she can only afford to send him to school when he is 6-years-old.