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No wrong doors for families seeking social services & support from govt: Desmond Lee

Making it easier to seek help.

Jonathan Lim | March 6, 05:51 pm

Families in need of social support will be referred to agencies directly able to help them regardless of which agency they approach first.

This was shared by Social & Family Development Minister Desmond Lee at his ministry’s Committee of Supply debate on Wednesday, March 6.

Integrated support

Sharing that families sometimes face issues “beyond those that they are seeking help for”, Lee said his ministry plans to make each frontline agency a “potential gateway” for families with complex needs to receive other social services.

Giving the example of a family seeking help from HDB because its sole breadwinner lost his job and they cannot pay their HDB rent or instalment, Lee said that HDB ought to refer the family to Workforce Singapore (WSG) or NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) to help the breadwinner find a job.

At the same time, the stat board should also refer the family to the Social Services Office (SSO) to help them with financial assistance.

To this end, Lee said the authorities will train 2,500 public officers from the following frontline agencies —

  • People’s Association,
  • HDB, WSG,
  • e2i,
  • Singapore Police Force,
  • Singapore Prison Service (SPS), and
  • Silver Generation Office/Agency for Integrated Care.

These will then be able to identify a family’s broader needs and refer them to the right agencies.

In the future, more agencies, voluntary welfare organisations, and community partners will be included in this integrated support system, added Lee.

Single touchpoint

Currently, families with complex problems will have to visit multiple agencies, fill out multiple forms, and repeat their stories to different agencies when seeking help.

Lee wants to remove this barrier by establishing a single touchpoint so the families have access to multiple agencies and their services.

Lee said SSOs will serve this purpose.

He said his ministry plans to have all 24 SSOs allow people who seek help to have access to financial, employment, and housing services either through physical co-location of services or video-conferencing with HDB, WSG, and NTUC’s e2i career coaches.

He also noted that the authorities are using data to provide targeted and coordinated assistance.

He shared the example of SSOs and Family Service Centres using SSNet to share client information and said that MSF was looking at more information link-ups.

Involving the community

And beyond just data, systems, and protocols, Lee shared that MSF was working towards is a “strong interpersonal network comprising of our officers, social workers, and partners across various agencies in every town, embedded amongst our communities”.

Lee shared that since May 2018, MSF has brought together public agencies, VWOs and community partners at town levels. He explained that they went for this networking because “residents, VWOs and partners on the ground know the local community and their needs best”.

You can watch more of his speech here:

Top image screenshot from Gov.sg Youtube

About Jonathan Lim

Jon is thankful that Singapore is interesting enough to keep a website like Mothership.sg up and running.

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