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Singapore Government

Community Link Expanded To Reach 21 Towns And 14,000 Families Over Next Two Years

Community Link Expanded To Reach 21 Towns And 14,000 Families Over Next Two Years

1          In April 2019, the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) launched the Community Link (ComLink) pilot at four sites1, to provide greater support to around 1,000 families with children living in rental housing so that they can achieve stability, self-reliance and social mobility. Given the protracted economic and social impact of COVID-19, MSF has accelerated plans to strengthen support for the lower-income and families and individuals in need. MSF will be scaling up the ComLink initiative nation-wide to 21 towns over the next two years. The ComLink scale-up is expected to benefit 14,000 families with children living in rental housing across Singapore.

Greater support for the lower-income and vulnerable

2          ComLink provides Comprehensive, Convenient and Coordinated (3C) support to empower families with children living in rental housing to improve their circumstances and build up resources for a brighter future. This includes home ownership for those with potential. This is done through proactive outreach, closer case support, and galvanising the community to offer customised programmes and services to the families.

3          At each ComLink town, MSF’s Social Service Office (SSO) leads a ComLink Alliance, comprising government agencies, corporates and community partners, to pool together resources and steer this effort. ComLink is a key initiative under the SG Cares Community Networks2, a Singapore Together Alliance for Action announced in June 2020.

Proactive outreach to address families’ needs early

4          ComLink brings various partner agencies together to understand the families’ holistic needs, aspirations and interests, so that appropriate services and programmes can be customised for different needs. From May 2019, the ComLink Alliances, together with volunteers, organised door-to-door visits as well as focus group discussions to reach out to the families. The ComLink Alliances have engaged more than 650 families across the four pilot ComLink sites thus far. Through these engagements, each ComLink Alliance identified local needs, and invited partners to run customised programmes and services to strengthen the existing ecosystem of support. Through the outreach, families with needs were also quickly linked up with the relevant agencies for support.

5          With the nation-wide scale-up of ComLink, we will be reaching out to all 14,000 families with children currently living in rental housing. New entrants into rental housing will be proactively engaged and provided social support, so that they can take steps towards stability, self-reliance and social mobility from the beginning of their rental housing journey. For most, especially families with children, rental housing should be a temporary solution, not a permanent one.

Closely supporting families’ progress

6          For lower-income families, the journey towards stability, self-reliance and social mobility can be complex, as they face multiple challenges along the way. Under ComLink, the Alliances closely support the progress made by each family under their care, and bring in additional support for the family, where needed. Families with complex circumstances are supported more intensively, with the SSO bringing agencies and partners together for regular case discussions and to coordinate support. This way, families receive support that is customised to their needs, and geared towards improving their long-term prospects. The ComLink Alliances have been supporting and regularly reviewing the progress of all 1,000 families at the four pilot sites, and will be engaging volunteers to conduct regular check-ins with families as part of the nation-wide scale-up.

7          Mdm Theresa and her two young children, who live at Kembangan-Chai Chee, are among the beneficiaries who have received support through the ComLink initiative. Mdm Theresa’s children actively participate in academic and enrichment programmes offered at the ComLink programme space, such as literacy and robotics lessons offered by ComLink partners School of Concepts and Preschool Market. Mdm Theresa also receives assistance for her children’s childcare and student care fees. She is currently employed as a childcare teacher assistant, and plans to take on certification courses to work towards her aspirations of becoming a childcare teacher. Having benefitted from community support, Mdm Theresa is paying it forward by serving as a volunteer, to support fellow residents in her community.

Strengthening community networks to organise and deliver programmes and services

8          ComLink embodies the Singapore Together DNA of bringing together different stakeholders – government agencies, partners from the people, private, public sectors, volunteers and local residents – to organise and deliver programmes and services to meet needs that have been identified in the local community. Across the four ComLink sites, there are currently 59 programmes, supported and run by some 17 corporates and donors and 242 volunteers, and benefitting some 250 families. These programmes range from reading and tuition classes for kids to employment coaching for adults.

9          For example, in Boon Lay, the Tak Takut Kids Club (TTKC), run by 3Pumpkins, a not-for-profit organisation, provides a space for children to engage in freestyle play, sports and crafts. Through these activities, staff and volunteers from Ngee Ann Polytechnic and Singapore Pools facilitate conversations with the children about their identity, values, and life perspectives. TTKC reflects ComLink’s collaborative, whole-of-community approach to uplifting families in need.

10         As ComLink scales up nation-wide, it will also be a platform to coordinate other community-based initiatives, including the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA)’s KidSTART3 and the Ministry of Education (MOE)’s UPLIFT4 (Uplifting Pupils in Life and Inspiring Families Taskforce). In partnership with the local SG Cares Volunteer Centres, ComLink will also channel resources from various segments of the community, such as schools, corporates, and individuals, towards those in need.

11         Mr Desmond Lee, Minister-in-Charge of Social Services Integration, said, “ComLink is a new and integrated approach to strengthening support for disadvantaged families with children, to help them have better prospects of achieving stability, self-reliance and social mobility. We have learned a lot from the pilot that we started two years ago at the first four sites, and are now ready to scale up ComLink as a standing programme for these families across the island. In bringing together community resources even more purposefully and growing our local communities of care, we will not only help individual families but will also help build a stronger, more cohesive and more caring society for all.”

Scaling ComLink nation-wide to provide more support to ComLink families

12         Over the next two years, MSF will scale up ComLink to 21 towns, each forming a ComLink community, and covering 14,000 families with children living in rental housing. We will begin with 11 towns by 2021, including expanding the existing four ComLink sites from rental cluster level to the town level, before launching this in the remaining 10 towns by the first half of 2022. We invite interested partners and residents to participate in and support this initiative by contributing funding and donations-in-kind, as well as volunteering their skills and time. Donors and volunteers may approach the SSOs or visit the Volunteer with MSF webpage to register their interest.

The four existing ComLink sites are at Boon Lay, Jalan Kukoh, Kembangan-Chai Chee and Marsiling

The SG Cares Community Network comprises government agencies, social service agencies, community stakeholders and volunteer groups from each HDB town. Since 2018, MCCY and MSF have been working together to organise SG Cares Community Network sessions to bring together agencies and partners to discuss the needs of their respective towns, and explore areas where they can work together to help resolve them. In total, the Network comprises 3,500 partners from 160 government and community help agencies across the social, health and community sectors.

KidSTART, led by ECDA, is a programme for children from low-income families to enable them to have a good start in life. It supports parents with the knowledge and skills to nurture their children’s early development, including their physical and socio-emotional health and well-being, and works with community and corporate partners to support families holistically.

UPLIFT, led by MOE, is an inter-agency task force that aims to strengthen support for students from disadvantaged (i.e. low-income) families. This includes enhanced learning, social-emotional and motivational support for students, and wraparound community-based support for families. For more information on the other initiatives supporting vulnerable Singaporeans, please refer to Annex C.

Annex A: Likely Asked Questions

Annex B: Community Link Staging Plan

Annex C: Infographic - Initiatives Supporting Vulnerable Singaporeans

Annex D: Translated Terms [140 kb]

 


 

Annex A: Likely Asked Questions

1.          How many people have we engaged through the door-to-door surveys and focus groups discussions? How does MSF intend to sustain outreach efforts in the future?

Across the four pilot sites, we have engaged some 650 ComLink families thus far, through door-to-door surveys and focus group discussions to understand these families’ needs and aspirations. These findings have helped us customise programmes to meet the needs of the local community. We will continue to tap on existing touchpoints, such as the Family Service Centres, SSOs and schools, as well as volunteers, to sustain outreach efforts.

2.          What are the programmes available or planned at ComLink locations?

 Current and planned programmes at the existing four ComLink sites, include:

  • Reading and numeracy programmes for young children, conducted by various partners such as National Library Board, ReadAble, Bringing Love to Every Single Soul (BLESS) and School of Concepts.
  • Non-academic enrichment programmes for children and youths, including sports activities by students from Temasek Polytechnic and social enterprises KidsExcel and Glyph; coding lessons by corporate partners such as Saturday Kids, and freestyle play, sports and crafts sessions at the Tak Takut Kids Club by 3Pumpkins.
  • Health and medical services for adults and seniors - ‘Doctors on Wheels’, provided by SATA CommHealth and Woodlands Health Campus.
  • Support and life-skill programmes for parents, conducted by ECDA and SSAs, such as Care Corner Singapore Limited and Presbyterian Community Services; and
  • Skills upgrading and job matching services, provided by partners such as WSG and Fast Jobs – a job search portal under Singapore Press Holdings.


3.          Who can take part in ComLink programmes, and do they need to pay for the programmes? How can residents find out about and sign up for upcoming programmes?

Families living in rental housing are prioritised for the ComLink programmes. Fellow residents in these estates with similar needs can also participate. Programmes are free. Residents are encouraged to sign up early.

Residents can find out about the latest programmes through noticeboards placed at common areas (e.g. lift lobbies and Residents’ Networks), as well as through letters sent to residents. More information on how to sign up for these programmes can also be found on these notices.

4.          How can interested partners come on-board?

We welcome more community and corporate partners to join us in serving families in need. They can reach out to MSF’s Social Service Offices (SSOs) to register their interest and find out more about the local ComLink effort.

5.          Will there be dedicated programme spaces at each ComLink community?

We will tap on existing community spaces such as Community Centres or Family Service Centres (FSCs) to deliver ComLink programmes, to ensure that ComLink families, who may be dispersed across each town, have easy access to these programmes. MSF will also assess the need to build dedicated programme spaces to serve ComLink families if needed.

6.          What are some of considerations in the staging of ComLink? Why are certain towns chosen to start first?

We will be rolling out ComLink at 11 towns, including expanding the four existing ComLink sites to cover all families with children living in rental housing within the respective towns, within 2021, before commencing the roll-out to the remaining 10 towns by the first half of 2022 (see Annex B for details).

The scale-up of ComLink is being phased to ensure that the SSOs have sufficient time to engage and bring on board the partners in each town, begin the intensive needs assessment exercise, and iron out kinks in the implementation. The towns to be covered in the first phase were chosen based on factors such as (i) geographical spread; (ii) no. of families with children living in rental housing (towns with more families with children living in rental housing have been prioritised); and (iii) no. of new families moving into rental housing (to ensure that ComLink support is provided as soon as they enter rental housing).

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Annex B: Community Link Staging Plan

2H 2021

Expansion of 4 existing ComLink sites into ComLink towns:

  1. Jurong West (formerly Boon Lay)
  2. Woodlands (formerly Marsiling)
  3. Bedok (formerly Kembangan Chai-Chee)
  4. Kreta Ayer (formerly Jalan Kukoh)


7 new ComLink towns:

  1. Ang Mo Kio
  2. Tampines
  3. Toa Payoh
  4. Bukit Batok
  5. Hougang / Serangoon
  6. Queenstown
  7. Bukit Merah


1H 2022

10 ComLink towns:

  1. Yishun
  2. Pasir Ris / Punggol
  3. Sembawang
  4. Sengkang
  5. Jurong East
  6. Clementi
  7. Geylang Serai
  8. Jalan Besar
  9. Choa Chu Kang
  10. Bukit Panjang

 

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Annex C: Infographic - Initiatives Supporting Vulnerable Singaporeans

 

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