SINGAPORE: The social service sector is set to receive more sustained funding support for programmes for vulnerable groups, through a S$580 million commitment from the Tote Board.
The announcement was made by Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee on Wednesday (Mar 6) in Parliament during his ministry’s Committee of Supply debate.
The Tote Board - an agency that aims to provide equitable opportunities for vulnerable groups - has committed the amount to the Tote Board Social Service Fund (TBSSF), which provides grants for new or critical and strategic social service programmes. The TBSSF is administered by the National Council of Social Service (NCSS).
The S$580 million commitment, which will be spread over four years, is the largest tranche of funds into the TBSSF since it was set up in 2006.
In 2016, Tote Board injected a new tranche of S$350 million into the TBSSF for three years.
“Sustained funding is crucial to ensure that vulnerable groups continue to receive the support they need,” said Mr Lee.
“It also enables voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs) to focus on delivering services well, and expand, and develop new programmes to serve growing areas of need,” he added.
With the duration of the funding commitment extended to four years instead of the usual three years, VWOs will be able to receive greater assurance of continuity of funding, the Ministry for Social and Family Development (MSF) said.
“The increase in funding reflects the growing demands on the social service sector. The funds will complement government efforts in providing resources for the social service sector, enabling VWOs to scale social service programmes and develop new and innovative programmes to serve growing areas of need,” MSF said.
Examples of programmes that the TBSSF funds are early intervention programmes that support children with developmental needs; Family Service Centres (FSC), which support low-income and vulnerable that require social work intervention; as well as School Social Work programmes that support youths who are at risk of school disengagement.
The funding will also go towards more coordinated efforts to drive manpower development in the sector. To further support social service professionals in their professional development and training, MSF will set up a Social Service SkillsFuture Tripartite Taskforce (STT).
The TBSSF was set up in 2006 and has been renewed for five tranches, including the latest trance from 2019 to 2022. In total, the Tote Board has pledged a total of S$1.56 billion to the Fund.
In the 2016 to 2018 tranche, the Fund supported more than 87,000 beneficiaries annually, such as vulnerable families, children and youth, seniors, persons with disabilities and persons with mental health conditions.
SKILLSFUTURE TRIPARTITE TASKFORCE
In addition to securing funding for social service programmes, Mr Lee said MSF will be doing more to ensure that social service professionals are well-equipped with the skills and competencies to meet the increasing demands on the social service sector.
To this end, he announced that the SkillsFuture Tripartite Taskforce will be set up to coordinate and drive skills development initiatives in the social service sector.
READ: MSF to enhance early intervention framework; more support for children with developmental needs
The taskforce will comprise representatives from tripartite partners in the VWOs, Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) and Post-Secondary Education Institutions (PSEIs), Professional Associations and Government agencies including MSF and NCSS.
Mr Lee said that the taskforce will explore further ways to build capabilities and strengthen professional practices.
“This includes reviewing the entry and training pathways for our social service professionals, ensuring curriculum relevance, identifying improvements for professional practice, and working on joint projects to strengthen evidence-based practices,” he added.
MSF said that the taskforce will build on the recently launched Skills Framework for Social Service to ensure that training programmes and curricula are relevant for the market, and up-to-date.
The Skills Framework for Social Service was launched on Jan 12, in conjunction with the NCSS, SkillsFuture Singapore and Workforce Singapore.