MSF office delivers social services to vulnerable families through inter-agency coordination

The office is part of the ministry's efforts to strengthen the delivery of social services. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

SINGAPORE - Escaping her abusive husband, a 38-year-old woman fled her marital home, taking her eight-year-old daughter with her, and went to a crisis shelter.

But since she was still in the process of divorcing her husband and co-owner of a Housing Board (HDB) flat, she was not eligible to rent a highly subsidised HDB rental flat.

Fortunately, through the intervention of the Social Service Systems Office (S3O), the mother and daughter pair moved into a rental flat earlier this year (2021).

A Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) spokesman said of her case: "Through the S3O's coordination efforts, the HDB reviewed and granted special approval for her application for a rental flat on compassionate grounds.

"We will continue to follow up on her case to ensure she receives the support that she needs."

The S30 was set up by the MSF in 2019 to help resolve complex cases with issues that cut across various agencies.

The office is part of the ministry's efforts to strengthen the delivery of social services so that low income and vulnerable families get more coordinated and comprehensive help, among other aims.

Cases that are not covered by conventional policy boundaries also fall under the purview of the S30.

The S3O is supported by coordinators from 11 agencies, who look into complex cases that require special attention and identify areas that require policy reviews.

The office also works closely with the relevant government and social service agencies to coordinate these cases.

The 11 agencies are the HDB, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Manpower, the Ministry of Health, Workforce Singapore, the Central Provident Fund Board, the Legal Aid Bureau, the Institute of Mental Health, the Agency for Integrated Care and Singapore Prison Service.

To date, the office has supported 160 complex cases that agencies had difficulties resolving on their own and that might otherwise have remained "stuck" without efforts by the S30, said the MSF.

Executive director of Kampong Kapor Community Services Lee Yean Wun said the families they work with would find it tough dealing with multiple Government agencies to resolve the situation facing them, given the multiple woes they have to deal with.

She said the S3O brings the different agencies together for a more holistic overview of the family's needs, and it is more effective in resolving the situation at hand given inter-agency collaboration.

Family violence helplines

Big Love Child Protection Specialist Centre: 6445-0400

Heart @ Fei Yue Child Protection Specialist Centre: 6819-9170

Pave Integrated Services for Individual and Family Protection: 6555-0390

Project StART: 6476-1482

Trans Safe Centre: 6449-9088

National Anti-Violence Helpline: 1800-777-0000

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