New framework to strengthen and scale up social service agencies

The framework was launched by Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli (second from left) on March 25, 2022. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

SINGAPORE - Social service agencies are getting better support to improve their capabilities and step up capacity with the launch of a new framework.

Developed by the National Council of Social Service (NCSS) and the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), the Organisational Health Framework for Social Services was launched by Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli on Friday (March 25).

The framework includes a one-stop portal for social service agencies to conduct a self-assessment of their business operations and identify the areas they can improve on.

It also provides a guidebook that recommends strategies to build both new skills and services and expand the scale of the agency.

Agencies can then apply for funding support to improve their processes from sources of funding such as the Community Capability Trust, which was earmarked to receive a $350 million boost aimed at strengthening the social sector.

Speaking at the Epworth Centre for Positive Recovery in Jurong West where he launched the framework, Mr Masagos noted that Singapore will face new challenges as its society ages and matures.

"New stressors threaten to strain families further. Social mobility will be harder to sustain.

"As a social service sector, we must therefore evolve ourselves, not only in terms of the quality and quantity of services, but also in ensuring that our organisations are strong and able to evolve to meet future needs," he said.

In 2019, the NCSS piloted an initiative with 28 social service agencies to improve their organisational development over a 24-month period with a consultant.

Epworth Community Services, which runs family-centric programmes that support disadvantaged children and youth, was part of this pilot.

It managed to identify organisational gaps and learnt how to structure a strategy that encompassed clearer goals and engagement of all its staff.

This led to the launch of its new Centre for Positive Recovery earlier this month to provide services such as trauma treatment, family and individual therapy to support the mental well-being of children, youth and their caregivers.

Mr Tan Khye Suan, executive director of Epworth Community Services, said the framework helped staff, stakeholders and management teams discuss strategy development among themselves.

"It helped us to focus on capabilities we needed to develop most, in achieving the vision of the new Centre for Positive Recovery. We look forward to using the framework to continue tracking our organisational health over the years," he added.

The new framework was developed to benefit more social service agencies following positive feedback from the pilot.

The Epworth Community Services' new Epworth Centre for Positive Recovery in Jurong West, on March 25, 2022. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

NCSS president Anita Fam noted that many social service agencies focus their attention on the immediate needs of their service users and may face challenges planning for capability building in the longer term.

"However, the investment in capability and capacity is crucial as it will help you provide better quality, more efficient and sustainable services which will, in turn, support more service users," she said.

Encouraging the agencies to use the framework to build their capabilities, Ms Fam added that they should also consider building strong partnerships across the private, public and social sectors, which would pave the way for future collaborations.

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