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Manpower in Social Service Offices

Type: Parliamentary Questions

Topic(s): Financial Assistance & Social Support


Question

Ms Joan Pereira, MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC

To ask the Minister for Social and Family Development whether the Ministry will consider increasing the manpower in social service offices as they take on the enhanced role of coordinating with all the community organisations to provide holistic help to families and individuals in distress.

Answer

1 The Ministry of Social and Family Development's (MSF) Social Service Offices (SSOs) carry out two main functions. First, the SSOs deliver financial assistance to low-income individuals and families, and link them up to various agencies for their other needs, such as housing, employment and family services. The objective is to ensure that these individuals or families receive comprehensive help. For example, where there are families with complex needs that require interfaces with multiple agencies, SSOs can step in to facilitate discussions or convene case conferences where needed. Second, the SSOs do ground sensing and local services planning, working closely with community partners to coordinate the planning and delivery of social services in the community.

2 The demands on our SSOs are growing. Over the years, the number of ComCare applications has increased, in large part because of increased awareness of available help schemes with the rollout of the network of 24 SSOs. Our SSOs are located within HDB towns, so that those in need can access help easily. The number of complex cases requiring coordination by the SSOs has also grown.

3 To respond to these challenges amid tighter manpower constraints, MSF is taking a multi-pronged approach. First, we are leveraging technology like video-conferencing to enhance productivity and efficiency at the SSOs. Second, we are strengthening backend inter-agency coordination, supported by enhanced protocols, data-sharing, and town-level SG Community Networks sessions. Third, we are using data analytics to inform resource planning and optimise deployment across our SSOs. These strategies ensure that our SSOs work efficiently yet effectively to serve vulnerable individuals and families.

4 MSF periodically reviews the SSOs' manpower needs, and will continue to monitor our operations, and adjust the level of required resourcing accordingly. Even as the SSOs step up to pull together efforts to help vulnerable families, we also appreciate the active contributions by the community and every Singaporean to this collective effort of giving those in need a leg up to regain stability, and building a caring society.