PM Lee says agencies on the ground must help needy navigate aid schemes

PM Lee says agencies on the ground must help needy navigate aid schemes
At the ceremony, Mr Lee, who is also the chairman of the People's Association, appointed two new mayors: Ms Low Yen Ling as mayor for South West District, and Ms Denise Phua as mayor for Central Singapore District.

SINGAPORE - Community Development Councils (CDCs) must help to build up new social services offices(SSOs) that are being set up in Housing Board towns, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Friday.

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Social service network to expand with 9 new offices

Janice Tai
The Straits Times
Sunday, Jan 26, 2014

SINGAPORE - The Government is close to its goal of putting social service aid within 2km of almost all needy residents.

Nine more Social Service Offices (SSOs) will be set up this year, announced Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing on Thursday. This brings his ministry close to its target of having 20 SSOs in HDB towns islandwide.

Together with the 43 Family Service Centres (FSCs), this will create a network that will put help within 2km of where 95 per cent of needy residents live or work.

Apart from the previously announced offices that will be set up in Ang Mo Kio, Bedok, Queenstown and Sengkang by June, the other five will be in Yishun, Taman Jurong, Bukit Panjang, Clementi and Serangoon.

Mr Chan gave these details on the sidelines of the official launch of Choa Chu Kang SSO at 8A Teck Whye Lane.

The SSOs, which are run by the Ministry of Social and Family Development, work with voluntary welfare organisations and community partners in their areas to plan and coordinate the provision of social services. They also give out financial aid under the national ComCare scheme.

FSCs mainly do counselling work and run local programmes.

The Choa Chu Kang office is one of 10 SSOs which have been set up since last year. Five of them are located within the five community development councils (CDCs), such as those in Toa Payoh and Tampines.

The locations of the SSOs are being carefully planned.

"We are using geo-spatial systems to plan for all the centres so that they are more accessible to needy residents," said Mr Chan.

This involves the ministry using software that shows the locations of existing help centres such as the FSCs, and mapping out the travel patterns of those receiving aid. Similar software is being used to plan for and site childcare centres.

This is to ensure that new SSOs will be located in areas that are not being served by such help centres and can be near transport nodes such as MRT stations.

Extending the reach of help agencies by setting up a network of SSOs is one of the Government's key initiatives to make the delivery of social service more seamless.

Other efforts include the setting up of a nationwide social service map in the next two years, which will locate those in need and provide a directory of agencies such as voluntary welfare organisations.

A national database is also being developed for social service agencies to share data on aid recipients from the middle of next year, so they can help those in need more speedily.

Health Minister and MP for Chua Chu Kang GRC Gan Kim Yong, who also officiated at the launch, said the location of the new office is ideal as it is close to rental blocks. "It provides a one-stop service in bringing help right to the doorstep of our residents," said Mr Gan.

A 52-year-old shop assistant receiving financial aid from the Choa Chu Kang SSO, who wanted to be known only as Mrs Lim, said living near the office has made it easier for her to go through the application process.

Said Mrs Lim, who lives 10 minutes away from the SSO: "It is very convenient as I can stop by the office on my way to the market."

This article was first published on Jan 26, 2014.
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