Forum: No fixed cap on how long families can stay at shelters

We thank Forum writer Sakinah Safiee for her letter, and agree that stable housing and safe environments are critical for the well-being of both the parents and children in single-parent families (Project shows how stable housing is important for single-parent families, May 30).

The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) provides funding to social service agencies to run transitional shelters and crisis shelters for homeless families and survivors of family violence and their children.

Social workers at the shelters work with each family to provide the support needed to address their unique needs and circumstances.

They help the family progress towards more stable longer-term housing, as it is generally better for the well-being of both parents and children if they do not reside permanently in a shelter.

Families with more complex challenges, who require more time to address their needs and move into a stable housing environment, can have their stays in the shelters extended, and there is no fixed cap on the length of stay in the shelters.

The social workers also work with other community and government agencies to help the families. For example, they work with social service offices to support families requiring financial assistance. Social workers also work with schools to facilitate the children's attendance and development, and monitor and engage them through various programmes to help them adapt to transitional changes.

Many community agencies run programmes for children from low-income families, and families in public rental housing would also be supported under MSF's ComLink initiative.

For survivors of family violence, social workers from the family violence specialist centres and family service centres provide professional assessments and support to the survivors and their children.

The social workers not only address the immediate safety concerns, but also work with the families on possible trauma issues arising from the family violence.

Kong Kum Peck
Director, ComCare and Social Support Division, Social Policy and Services Group
Ministry of Social and Family Development

Tabitha Ong
Director, Adult Protective Service, Rehabilitation and Protection Group
Ministry of Social and Family Development

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