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Singapore Government

Findings Of the REACH Survey Conducted in 2021 On How Social Workers Have Been Impacted From COVID-19

Findings Of the REACH Survey Conducted in 2021 On How Social Workers Have Been Impacted From COVID-19

Mr Louis Ng Kok Kwang asked the Minister for Social and Family Development (a) whether the Ministry will be publishing the findings of the REACH survey in 2021 on how social workers have been impacted by COVID-19; (b) if so, when will the findings be published; and (c) what further steps will be taken by the Ministry to consult with social workers after obtaining the survey findings.

Answer

1      REACH conducted a dipstick survey with 547 social workers on how social workers have been impacted by COVID-19. The survey was conducted from 15 Oct to 26 Oct 2021 and the findings were subsequently shared with MSF and the Singapore Association of Social Workers (SASW).

2      The purpose of these surveys and engagements are to inform MSF and the National Council of Social Service (NCSS) in our ongoing efforts to support our social workers, working closely with our Social Service Agencies (SSAs). SSAs play an important role in supporting and retaining their staff and initiatives are in place to support and strengthen their Human Resource (HR) practices and policies 1 , in areas such as Recruitment and Selection, Compensation and Benefits, Performance Management and Career Development.

3      The survey reflects sentiments expressed by social workers with regard to their remuneration, amount of workload and issues of interagency coordination, which MSF and NCSS have been working together to address.

4      To support our social workers, MSF and NCSS publish sector salary guidelines and SSAs are encouraged to adhere to these guidelines to reward and retain good staff. Funding to MSF programmes is calibrated to allow SSAs to hire at a reasonable staff to client ratio, and remunerate staff according to the salary guidelines. During COVID-19, the Government provided significant support to SSAs in the form of the Jobs Support Scheme to retain their workforce, and MSF stepped in further to provide more funding where necessary to support SSAs in coping with additional work brought about by COVID-19. We also reviewed if services could be delivered online to facilitate work from home and closely monitored the staffing of MSF-funded programmes, and directed SSAs with shortfall in staff to relevant grants and schemes to meet their transformation and hiring needs. In-sector social workers can also apply for the Sabbatical Leave Scheme supported by NCSS and the VWOsCharities Capability Fund (VCF). The Sabbatical Leave Scheme provides seasoned social service professionals, including social workers, with paid leave and a Professional Advancement Sponsorship, to recharge themselves and develop their professional competencies.

5      Over the past 2 years, MSF has been regularly engaging social work leaders on balancing staff well-being with maintaining service delivery standards, particularly during this period of high workload and uncertainty brought on by the pandemic. MSF also works closely with SASW to support social workers in various ways, e.g. through recognising their contributions at the annual Social Work Day and Outstanding and Promising Social Worker Awards or promoting best-practices within Social Work supervision via the biennial Social Work Supervision Seminar.

6      MSF and NCSS will continue to work with our tripartite partners in the social service sector to address feedback from our Social Workers, through the Social Service SkillsFuture Tripartite Taskforce (STT). Comprising social workers in SSAs, Hospitals, Community Care Organisations (CCOs), Post-Secondary Institutions (PSEIs), Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) and other institutions, the Taskforce will continue to consult social workers to co-create initiatives with them.

 1 Approximately 100 SSAs are participating in the People Practice Consultancy (PPC), an initiative that has been ongoing since 2016. 

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