Committee of Supply Debate – Social and Family Development

06 Mar 2020 3 min read


Increased student care subsidy for lower-income families

Lower-income families with older children aged between seven and 14 who need student care services will get more financial support.

From July 1, the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) will raise the amount of subsidies so that eligible families will receive up to $60 more in Student Care Fee Assistance monthly.

The existing qualifying monthly household income ceiling of $4,000 will be raised to $4,500 and the per capita income ceiling will be raised from $1,000 to $1,125. Both moves are expected to help around 9,000 children.

Speaking in Parliament during MSF’s Committee of Supply session, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim said, “We want to ensure that student care remains affordable, especially for lower-income families.”

More subsidies for children with disabilities at special student care centres

Families with disabled children who are attending special student care centres will get more fee subsidies, and more will qualify for help as the income criterion is expanded.

With the extra help, most families will, on average, pay between 30 and 80 per cent less in fees.

Meanwhile, the eligible household income for means-tested subsidies will be raised from $4,000 to $9,200 a month.

The changes will take effect from July 1, said Minister of State for Social and Family Development Sam Tan in Parliament, noting that such centres are “particularly essential” for caregivers who need to work or care for other dependants and themselves.

Call for more Singaporeans to help others in society

Many companies, volunteers and groups have stepped forward to help their neighbours and others in need of assistance over the past year, and Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee hopes more Singaporeans will do so.

“Our society is stronger and more resilient when all Singaporeans come together, when we look out not only for ourselves, but our families, neighbours and fellow Singaporeans in need,” Mr Lee told Parliament.

Speaking during the debate on his ministry’s budget, Mr Lee outlined several initiatives that individuals and organisations could come together to partner the Government on.

One is the Youth Mental Well-being Network which will bring together people who are keen to help those with mental health issues. Over 700 individuals and organisations have expressed their interest.

Another initiative is the Community Capability Trust – a new fund for social service agencies to improve their capability and capacity – that Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat had announced in his Budget speech last month.

New portal to help couples considering divorce

Couples contemplating divorce can turn to a new portal where they can get online counselling and do an e-learning module, as part of a parenting programme to help them better understand their marital situation and how it affects their children.

The portal will also consolidate the information commonly sought in a divorce, such as housing and Central Provident Fund matters, for the greater convenience of users.

The first phase of the portal will be rolled out by late next year.

Announcing the new measures, Desmond Lee said that children are often the most severely affected in a divorce.

“The portal will help couples understand the immediate as well as long-term impact on children, learn how to co-parent effectively and point them to relevant services,” he added.

Possible dedicated hotline for all victims of violence

MSF is exploring the possibility of setting up a dedicated national hotline for all victims of violence to get help, regardless of the type of abuse, as part of its continuing efforts to be inclusive and make social services available to all, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people.

The ministry’s Senior Parliamentary Secretary Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim said that the ministry recognises that it is not easy for persons facing violence to seek help,” Associate Professor Faishal said.

“Their concerns are varied, such as whether it would lead to the arrest of the perpetrator who might be a loved one, stigma or fear about being judged,” he added.

He said the Government is very clear on its stance that violence against any person – LGBTQ or not – should not be condoned.

Enabling Guide to help people find information on disability schemes

SG Enable, the agency set up by the MSF to support people with disabilities, has launched a new online resource called the Enabling Guide – a one-stop website to help people find information on the various disability schemes and services.

From Oct 1 this year, SG Enable will be the single touch point for disability services here.

It will take over the administration of disability programmes currently run by the MSF and the National Council of Social Service.