SINGAPORE - By mid next year, Singapore will have 23 social service offices (SSOs) up and running across the island, exceeding the initial target of 20.
"Twenty was the initial estimate and we based it on rough geographical location and dispersal, but after starting operations and having a better idea of caseloads from each of town, we further refined the plan," said Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing at the official opening of the eleventh SSO in Sengkang on Thursday.
He also revealed the locations of the 20th SSO and the three additional ones - Bukit Batok, Hougang, Punggol and Pasir Ris.
The SSOs, which are run by his ministry, will work with voluntary welfare organisations and community partners in their areas to better coordinate the social services they offer.
These SSOs, together with the 43 family service centres islandwide, will form a network that will put help within 2km of where 95 per cent of needy residents live or work.
Mr Chan said they will have first dibs on access to the national database of aid recipients when it is ready next year. Other voluntary welfare organisations will follow suit later.
The national case management system for the social service sector will be similar to that for health, which allows doctors to call up a patient's records no matter where the patient is treated.
Social service workers will be able to get an overview of the case history of each beneficiary and the different places he has sought help from, so that the needy do not have to furnish their personal details repeatedly to every agency.
Minister of State for Trade and Industry and North East District Mayor Teo Ser Luck, the guest of honour at the opening of the SSO in Jalan Besar Community Club said the SSO will scale up assistance to residents "tremendously".
"In the past, our officers either stay in the Community Development Council office in Tampines where residents have to go there or we reach out by making appointments and and go to the community centres, there was no physical presence or office like the SSOs within the constituency," he said.