Mr Louis Ng Kok Kwang asked the Minister for Social and Family Development (a) what is the reasonable staff to client ratio for Social Service Agencies (SSAs) under the Ministry’s guidelines for MSF-funded programmes; (b) what happens when SSAs are unable to meet this ratio; and (c) for each year in the past five years, how many SSAs and what percentage of SSAs have been unable to meet this ratio respectively.
1. The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) funds about 90 Social Service Agencies (SSAs) to run about 50 different programmes. The staffing models of MSF-funded programmes consider staff-to-client ratios which vary according to the nature of each programme.
2. Programmes catering to high-risk client groups, such as vulnerable persons in need of protection, would require a higher staff-to-client ratio. Other considerations include the complexity of client needs, the nature of intervention, such as whether it is a preventive programme requiring group psychoeducation or casework, and the intensity of intervention, such as whether it is a short treatment programme or a long-term maintenance programme.
3. For example, Family Service Centres are resourced based on the number of active cases, with higher funding given to cases with higher risks and complexity. FSCs have the flexibility to decide on the number of social workers to hire and how best to distribute cases among their social workers.
4. As at end-2021, about 15% of the headcount in the recommended staffing models across MSF-funded programmes were not filled by SSAs. The differences between actual hiring and the staffing models would differ across the programmes and the SSA providers for each programme.
5. MSF also works closely with SSAs to monitor their staffing and ensure that they are adequately resourced. If SSAs face difficulty hiring, MSF will engage them to understand their hiring challenges and provide support where needed. For example, some SSAs may not have sufficient senior social workers to provide supervision, and can tap on the Singapore Association of Social Workers’ Supervision Service to enable their social workers who have yet to attain the requisite 1,000 supervised practice hours required for accreditation to receive supervision from a qualified supervisor.
6. To mitigate the impact of COVID-19, SSAs can tap on various initiatives under the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package, and the Transformation Support Scheme to support their hiring and capability-building efforts.
7. In addition, MSF periodically reviews staffing models to ensure that client needs and service standards are met. This includes updating staffing models while taking into consideration reasonable caseload ratios to ensure clients are adequately served and staff have reasonable workloads.