Workers' Party MP Muhamad Faisal Abdul Manap questioned on Wednesday if the new heartland social service offices introduced in this year's Budget would end up duplicating services provided by other agencies and adding another layer of bureaucracy for needy families to contend with.
Mr Faisal (Aljunied GRC) said he was "puzzled" that while the Government frowns on a welfare state, it was introducing additional bureaucratic levels with the 20 new social service offices.
These offices, to be located in Housing Board towns, are meant to act as one-stop centres where needy residents can get help close to their homes, without having to go to multiple agencies.
However, Mr Faisal said this objective, "at first sight", appears to duplicate the functions of family service centres, which are also located in the neighbourhood. He called for a clearer definition of the different case management roles expected of the new offices, the family service centres and the Community Development Councils.
Mr Faisal also called for the Kindergarten Financial Assistance Scheme (KiFAS) to be made available to all needy children regardless of the kindergarten they attend. Currently, KiFAS is applicable only to kindergartens which meet criteria such as being non-profit bodies registered with the Education Ministry and having no religious affiliation or relation to racial groups. Mr Faisal noted that such criteria mean that the scheme is available mainly to pupils at PAP Community Foundation kindergartens.
The MP, who is a trained social worker, also repeated his call for Edusave to be extended to full-time madrasah students and for social work to be made a more attractive option for 'A' Level and polytechnic graduates.