Sunday, 22 April 2012

ComCare kit shows the way to get help fast

MCYS gathers information on aid programmes in starter kit to improve delivery of help
By Tay Suan Chiang, The Straits Times, 21 Apr 2012

OFTEN, the people helping the people in need are as much in need of help when it comes to the ComCare Fund, with its complex array of help schemes for the low-income.

This has prompted the Government to package the ins and outs of the aid programmes into a ComCare Starter Kit, in its bid to hasten aid to the needy.

'Having the right policies will not serve any good without effective delivery machinery on the ground,' said Madam Halimah Yacob yesterday at the second ComCare Seminar, on her ministry's latest efforts to improve the way help reaches the poor.

Madam Halimah is Minister of State at the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) which produced the kit.

The ministry's next effort is to have all the ComCare information at a one-stop portal, It will be ready before the end of this year.

Meanwhile, the week-old kit has been well received by staff of organisations in the social service sector, especially their front-line staff.

'Our staff used to have to consult the welfare chairman on what they should do next, but now, they can simply refer to the starter kit,' said Ms Rose Koh, assistant secretary at the Nee Soon East Citizens' Consultative Committee (CCC).

Close to 5,000 kits were distributed last week to Community Development Councils (CDCs), family service centres, self-help groups and grassroots organisations like the CCCs.

'The kit answers basic questions that are usually asked by grassroots organisations that serve residents,' said Madam Halimah.

It also lists other points of help, like directing residents who need financial aid to the nearest CDC, or poor residents who need help from Medifund to a medical social worker at the hospitals.

Mr Teo Tee Loon, executive director at Lakeside Family Centre, said the kit was 'simple to understand and at a glance, staff would know where to direct residents to'.

ComCare, or Community Care Endowment Fund, was set up in 2005 for needy Singaporeans and their families. It has grown from an initial endowment of $500 million to $1.5 billion.

Last month, MCYS raised the income eligibility criteria from $1,500 to $1,700 to help more families.

Also, the per capita income criteria of $550 or below was introduced for larger families to get more help.

Stressing the need to smoothen the process further for aid-seekers, Madam Halimah said: 'It can be daunting for those seeking help, but by improving on the experience, we can make it less so.'

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