Debate on ministries’ budgets

Groups to run social service hubs near rental blocks

To provide a more coordinated and comprehensive support for poor and vulnerable families with multiple woes, the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) is looking to bring together groups to run social service and other programmes at or near rental block precincts.

The MSF will set up the first four social service hubs, to be called Community Link (ComLink), in Jalan Kukoh, Marsiling, Kembangan-Chai Chee and Boon Lay over the next two years.

They were chosen as there are a sizeable number of families with children living in rental flats there, and the locations are spread across the island.

Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee said in Parliament yesterday that the social service offices (SSO) will work with charities, government agencies, grassroots groups and other partners to engage families to get a better understanding of their needs and to provide relevant programmes and services like parenting workshops or night-time student care services.

The SSO administers the Government's financial aid schemes.

Mr Lee said: "Most importantly, ComLink will develop a sense of community and mutual help, with neighbours supporting one another in their journeys."

He was replying to Dr Lily Neo (Jalan Besar GRC) and Mr Seah Kian Peng (Marine Parade GRC), who asked for more details aboutComLink.

In response to Dr Neo's question on ComLink's outreach efforts, Mr Lee said that they will proactively reach out to families, starting with those with young children, to understand what they are going through and their aspirations, to help them.

Mr Alvin Goh, cluster director of family services at Methodist Welfare Services, hopes ComLink will build up neighbourhood networks and not focus only on running programmes administered by charities or government agencies.

Mr Lee also shared the MSF's plans to start a pilot Localised Community Network (LCN) programme in the Boon Lay and Jurong West region to come up with ways to better support at-risk youth and their families.

This comes under the work of the National Committee on Prevention, Rehabilitation and Recidivism.

The LCN will facilitate data sharing between relevant government agencies and their partners to ensure the youthget targeted aid.

Mr Lee said: "Without proactive early support and intervention, some of these students may underperform or start to skip school.

"Yet, these are young people with potential and promise, and we want to ensure they have the best chances in life."

Theresa Tan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 06, 2019, with the headline 'Groups to run social service hubs near rental blocks'. Print Edition | Subscribe