Building a pool of helpers

People are at the heart of what MSF does, says Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing.

SINGAPORE - It's not just about helping those in need. The helpers will also be getting help.

That means drawing more leaders, including fresh hires and mid-career professionals, into the social work sector through better pay and career prospects.

Other to-do tasks include improving the image of the industry and retaining talent.

Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing (above) said during Thursday's Budget debate: "Our social work professionals did not join this sector because of money. But neither should we have them leave the sector because of money.

"We're committed to making sure that we pay them fairly and properly."

CAREER SCHEME

For starters, the National Council of Social Service will run a centralised hiring and structured career development scheme.

Akin to how the Education Ministry recruits and develops teachers as an integrated body, staff are then deployed to various agencies.

A task force, including industry players and human resource professionals, will help develop the scheme, which is expected to start by the end of the year.

The scheme will kick off with incoming batches of social service scholars and mid-career entrants, and will also be opened to professionals already in service.

The target is to build a pool of up to 300 people at a steady rate.

The lack of highly-trained professionals has been an issue as the sector is set to expand, with the Government strengthening social safety nets.

PEOPLE, PEOPLE, PEOPLE

Ultimately, the success and failure of the social service system in Singapore is "all about people, people, people".

Added Mr Chan: "People are at the heart of what we do and people are also the key reason we are able to do what we do."

WHAT MSF IS DOING TO HELP

The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) outlined what it is doing to help different groups.

FOR KIDS

Making kindergarten education more affordable

-$20 million set aside under Kindergarten fee assistance scheme, double today's amount.

-Extended to families with up to $6,000 gross household income.

-Lower-income families to get up to $160 quantum per month, compared to $108 now.

-Starts in January next year

Therapy services for those with special needs

-$32 million per year for Early Intervention Programme for Infants and Children, a 74 per cent increase.

-Monthly base subsidy raised from $300 to $500.

-Eligible per capita income raised from $1,500 to $3,000.

FOR DISABLED

-25 per cent off adult fare for bus and rail travel; starts on July 6.

-Up to 80 per cent off transport services to special education schools and community-based programmes; starts in July.

-Up to 50 per cent off taxi fare for those unable to take public or special transport; starts in October.

-Four more adult disability homes to be built, with first one at Sembawang Walk to be completed in 2017.

FOR FAMILIES

Those seeking short- to medium-term help from Comcare

-Household income cap raised from $1,700 to $1,900

-Income per person cap raised from $550 to $650

-1,800 extra families to benefit

-Starts in July

Vulnerable Families Pilot Programme

-Multi-agencies to focus help for 500 families in need.

-Starts this year

kohht@sph.com.sg

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