- POSTED: 20 Sep 2013 11:56
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The Ministry of Social and Family Development will be rolling out social service offices in four more HDB towns by early 2014.
SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Social and Family Development will be rolling out social service offices in four more HDB towns by early 2014.
In an exclusive interview with Channel NewsAsia, Social and Family Development Minister Chan Chun Sing said the Social Service Offices (SSOs) will be located in Ang Mo Kio, Bedok, Queenstown and Sengkang.
The SSOs will disburse financial aid through the national ComCare scheme -- a role previously administered by the Community Development Councils (CDCs). The SSOs will also coordinate and plan social services within the community.
The location of the SSO in Choa Chu Kang was chosen based on residents' needs -- it is also close to the Fei Yue Seniors Activity Centre, which the SSO intends to work with to provide social services.
The Ministry of Social and Family Development has already mapped out the locations of the SSOs, each serving a HDB town.
By the end of 2013, ten SSOs will be operational. In August, the first stand-alone office opened in Kreta Ayer.
When siting an SSO, the team considers a number of factors -- these include demographics, transport accessibility and the number of voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs) in the area.
Dr Benjamin Koh, director of the Social Service Office division with the Ministry of Social and Family Development, said: "We do work with the grassroots leaders to see whether these sites are indeed suitable. And after that, we see if there might be certain infrastructural considerations that we have to look at.
"I think grassroots leaders, they would have certain considerations in mind, trying to preserve communal space for residents. So we work with them, we work with HDB, on how best to accommodate some of these concerns."
Three months before the opening of an SSO, the minister would personally hold a session to engage other social service providers on the ground.
The MPs of the area, as well as community agencies and VWOs will hear the ministry's plans, after which the minister would address any concerns the stakeholders may have.
Mr Chan said: "In the first two sessions, because the SSO concept was new, so questions generally centered on what's the working relationship between the community partners, the SSO and the FSCs. Where do they hand over cases to each other? How do they support each other and not duplicate the work done by the respective agencies?
"By the third session, because many of them would have heard of the experiences in the first two centres, and many of them were also involved in the first two centres work -- I think I detect a slight shift in the questions, where people are talking about how they can introduce new schemes to help the local community."
Desmond Lee, Minister of State for the Ministry of National Development and MP of Jurong GRC, who attended the engagement session for the Boon Lay SSO, said: "At the start there might be some teething issues, it's a matter of the comfort level -- people getting to know each other and what role the SSO plays, what role the FSC plays."
Looking ahead, the ministry estimates that a total of 300 staff will eventually be deployed for the 20 SSOs.