SINGAPORE: Ten new centres will provide support for couples and families facing early signs of stress, announced Minister of State for Social and Family Development Sun Xueling on Friday (Mar 5).
Speaking at the Ministry of Social and Family Development's (MSF) Committee of Supply debate, Ms Sun said that MSF will establish the Strengthening Families Programme @ Family Service Centres (SFP@FSCs) across Singapore over the next three years, following a pilot in 2019.
The SFP@FSCs will bring together programmes and support services for marriage and divorce, she said. They will also have family counselling services to "mend relationship fissures early".
Each SFP@FSC will be dedicated to one of 10 regions in Singapore.
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"Bringing early-risk family services under SFP@FSC allows better oversight of family services and greater integration of support for families with multiple needs," said Ms Sun.
They will work with other service providers such as their respective Social Service Office and Family Service Centre partners, and will bring professionals trained in family counselling, financial counselling and psychology.
In the last quarter of 2021, MSF will scale up the SFP@FSCs by appointing three additional social service agencies as SFP@FSCs. The ministry will appoint service providers for the remaining five within the next two years, she said.
SCALING UP COMLINK
Over the next two years, MSF will broaden Community Link (ComLink) to 21 towns, to cover all 14,000 families with children living in rental housing, said Minister-in-charge of Social Services Integration Desmond Lee on Friday.
Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat first announced the expansion during the Budget this year.
ComLink was initially launched in Apr 2019 at four sites, supporting about 1,000 families with children living in rental housing. It brings together various partner agencies to customise appropriate services and programmes for each family's needs.
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"Our objective is to systematically uplift families with children living in rental housing, and support them towards stability, self-reliance and social mobility," said Mr Lee.
MSF will first introduce ComLink to 11 towns in 2021. This will include expanding the existing four ComLink sites from rental cluster level to town level. ComLink will be launched for the remaining 10 towns in the first half of 2022.
MENTORING PROGRAMME FOR AT-RISK YOUTHS
The ministry will also launch a pilot mentoring programme for 100 at-risk youths in the fourth quarter of 2021.
The pilot will be carried out over two years and will involve students who leave the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) prematurely.
Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Social and Family Development Eric Chua said that the ministry hopes that the programme can "expand the youths' network of positive relationships" and empower them to "achieve their aspirations".
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It targets students leaving ITE prematurely as they may lack support and guidance after leaving the education system, and may engage in "undesirable activities or risky behaviours" if they are "not constructively engaged", said MSF in a press release.
It differs from existing mentoring initiatives within the community, as the pilot matches mentees with mentors from industries that mentees indicate interest in, said MSF.
Where possible, these mentors will facilitate internships and job placements for their mentees.
A White Paper on Singapore's women will be submitted to Parliament in the second half of 2021, said Ms Sun.
Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam had previously said that the paper would be submitted in the first half of 2021.
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The White Paper will compile feedback and ideas shared at the Conversations on Singapore Women's Development, organised by the Government and community partners including the Singapore Council of Women's Organisations, NTUC Women and Family Unit, People's Associations Women Integration Network Council and the National Youth Council.
To date, there have been 37 such sessions, involving more than 1,800 participants.
Issues raised include family violence and hurt, sexual offences against women and the need for societal mindsets to shift away from traditional gender roles where women are often the main caregiver and men the main breadwinner.
"Our women's contributions are integral to the Singapore Story and we must celebrate and support their continued progress," said Ms Sun.
SUPPORTING CAREGIVERS OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
The National Council of Social Service will form a new Singapore Together Alliance for Action (SG Together AfA) to tackle issues of mutual support and self-care for caregivers of persons with disabilities, said Mr Masagos on Friday.
"Caring for persons with disabilities is important but can be challenging, at times overwhelming, and often lonely.
"Caregivers need to have more respite opportunities, the means to take better care of their own health and well-being while caring for others, with access to support and insights from other caregivers," said MSF in its press release.
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A Caregiver Action Map will be a "guide and inspiration" for organisations seeking to develop solutions to better support caregivers of persons with disabilities, with ideas based on feedback from the ground, said MSF.
SG Together AfAs are cross-sector collaborations focused on specific issues. Involved parties will create solutions for identified needs and gaps.