SINGAPORE: Two new initiatives were announced on Tuesday (Nov 3) to provide more effective guidance and rehabilitation to at-risk youth. The initiatives were announced at the ACT! Conference for At-Risk Youth.
The first will start in April 2016, said the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF). The S$2 million pilot programme, called the Youth-At-Risk Engagement (YARE) Framework, will develop standardised assessment tools to better assess the risk level and needs of youths.
Currently, there are no common assessment and evaluation tools that different agencies use in their work with youths, so this new framework will help youth workers develop and deliver better programmes to help the community, said Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin. He was speaking at opening address for the conference.
Mr Benjamin Teo, a senior social worker at Students Care Service, said: "We are all working with at-risk youth but there's no clear definition of what that 'at-risk youth' is. So it's a very broad definition. Each agency will sometimes come up with its own definition."
The initiative will also strengthen the design and curriculum of at-risk youth programmes, including those involving mentoring and character development through sports or arts. Selected agencies will be funded to accept referrals and roll out programmes for at-risk youth.
Projected to last three years, the programme aims to serve about 900 at-risk youth.
Said Mr Weevyn To, a social worker at Lakeside Family Services: "Let's say we've identified a youth for theft of bicycle. Some may think that the problem lies with the youth themselves. However, if you identify other factors using the risk assessment tool, we may have to work with the family and not just with the youth.”
Mr To also said some organisations may not have the same competencies to work with families. Hence, when a certain area is flagged after the assessment, social workers can refer them to appropriate help services such as family service centres.
The second initiative will start by the second half of 2017 and help youth workers in Singapore raise their capabilities and provide more effective interventions. A joint initiative between the Central Youth Guidance Office and the National Council of Social Services, the National Youth Work Competency (NYWC) Framework will set out specialised competencies required by youth work professionals.
With the framework, youth workers and their supervisors will be able to participate in suitable courses to develop their competencies and careers.
"This will help guide our youth workers, from entry level to more experienced echelons, to build their competencies and chart their careers in a systematic and progressive manner," Mr Tan said.
More than 200 practitioners in the youth work sector are expected to benefit from the NYWC Framework initiative.
The ACT! Conference for At-Risk Youth was attended by 1,000 participants from Government agencies, voluntary welfare organisations and schools actively involved in helping at-risk-youth.