Thursday 21 March 2013

CDCs still have a role in helping the needy

They'll continue aid schemes, work with social service offices: Amy Khor
By Lim Yi Han, The Straits Times, 20 Mar 2013

SINGAPORE'S five community development councils (CDCs) will retain their role in helping the needy, said South West District Mayor Amy Khor - despite the decision to set up new social service offices.

They will continue their local schemes to help those who need financial and social aid, but may not qualify for the Government's national ComCare programme. These include providing vouchers for utilities, transport and food as well as social support, using funds raised from corporate partners.

Plans to set up 20 new social service offices - otherwise known as SSOs - in HDB towns were first announced in the Budget last month. When the SSOs are up and running, residents can turn to them for financial and social assistance, instead of approaching the social assistance units under the CDCs which currently administer the national ComCare programme.

The first four SSOs are expected to be ready by the end of this year. By year-end, the social assistance units at the CDCs will also be converted to SSOs.

The new offices are part of the Government's efforts to deliver help to the needy near their homes, and in a more coordinated manner. But this has led some to question the role of the CDCs.

Launched in 1997, the CDCs have three main objectives: to assist the needy, help the people to bond and connect the community.

"Some of you may be asking, 'What then is the role of the CDCs in assisting the needy?' " said Dr Khor at the annual South West CDC ComCare Awards yesterday.

Sketching out the future of the councils, she said they will still continue with their local programmes. The CDCs will also act as coordinators and work with the social service offices.

Dr Khor, also Minister of State for Manpower and Health, said: "The role of assisting the needy will still stay. But it will be more of an aggregator role."

The CDCs, for instance, will work with corporate partners, as well as community partners, which will include the family service centres. They will also leverage on their close connection with the ground and grassroots organisations, she added.

Over the years, needs have also become more complex, she noted. "We ourselves feel that we could decentralise even further."

Yesterday, Dr Khor also gave an update on the South West CDC's local help schemes. It has set aside $3.5 million over the next three years to provide assistance for lower-income residents.

Over the last five years, it has given out $4.2 million through its help schemes to about 10,000 needy households.

Dr Khor said: "On a per-year basis, it will represent a 27 per cent increase compared to last year's that was given through local ComCare schemes."

Acting Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing, who was the guest of honour at the event, added that it is important for the community to work together to help each other.

He said: "The most important thing that the (social service sector) must do is to mobilise the resources of the community, to build that network, to provide help, to provide assistance, to provide care to all those within the community."

THESE are some of the local help schemes administered by the South West CDC:
Power Up @ South West
It provides interim assistance to low-income families who have problems paying their utility bills by giving them Pay-As-You-Use vouchers.
Eye Wear @ South West
It offers free eye screening for school-going children and senior citizens from needy families.
South West Mobility Fund
Needy residents who need to go for medical appointments or rehabilitation treatment can get help with transport arrangements, as well as mobility aids like wheelchairs.
Meals Service @ South West
It offers affordable cooked meals for needy residents who are unable to prepare their own meals at home due to physical or intellectual disability.


The CDCs will work with the SSOs at cluster level within each district and with other social service agencies... to coordinate and deliver help to needy residents... The SSOs are full-scale offices, compared with satellite offices, so there are more resources to do better coordination.
- South West District Mayor Amy Khor, who is also Minister of State for Manpower and Health

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