A member of the public, John Lok, wrote an open letter to the Ministry of Social and Family Development, urging the Ministry to improve its service.
On a Facebook post written on Sunday (11 December), Mr Lok wrote that his family made an arrangement with Seng Kang FSC (Family Service Centre) to discuss about their communication problem with their child.
He wrote that prior to this appointment one week before, they had visited this FSC and spend around 15 minutes to answer some questions and making the appointment for this 8 December appointment.
Mr Lok also noted that he and his wife specifically applied for leave from work to attend the appointment.
4pm that day, Mr Lok, his wife and his child, one senior interviewer and an intern who sit-in to understudy the interview attended the meeting and spent an hour going through the questioning session and filling up four personal confidential information forms.
The interviewer then asked them to wait to consult her superior about the case. About five minutes later, she got back to the room and told his family that their case is beyond the service centre’s expertise and ask the family to go to another organization to seek for help.
“Upon facing this situation, both me and my wife were utterly disappointed with the results of this whole episode! We took leave from work and I remember even during the meeting my wife’s phone still receiving call from her clients,” he wrote.
“Yet after all the time we have been wasted in the meeting with no results at the end. That is not what we had expected. Does it mean that this is like buying things in the wet-market, because FSC did not sell the things we want so we got to go some where else? If social service have degraded to such an extent, I am really sad about the future of government linked social services!” he added.
Mr Lok then compared his case to consulting a GP by visiting a polyclinic. He noted that even if the GP could not help for one’s illness, he will writee a letter and channel the patient to a hospital specialist, and the hospital will call this patient for an appointment and so on. Not to mention about the consulting time is just a few minutes in polyclinic comparing to their case in FSC which lasted for an hour.
On MSF website there is a statement which said, “Information and Referral (I&R): Linking families to more appropriate help agencies and resources in the community.”
“We did not see this apply to my family case. We were just ask to leave and seek for help in another organization by ourselves!” wrote Mr Lok and added, “I sincerely hope that the FSC under MSF can be as efficient and effective in their services as compare to polyclinic, therefore can service Singaporean family as efficient as serving the foreigner.”
However, Mr Lok does not wish to have this matter escalated and noted that his letter is just to urge for service improvement by the ministry.
There has not been any reply from the MSF on Mr Lok’s letter.
Seng Kang FSC is one of the centres run by Ang Mo Kio Family Service Centre (AMKFSC), which is largely funded by the MSF and the Tote Board Social Service Fund. AMKFSC spent 9.6 million on staff cost in the year 2015.
On Monday, MSF replied on TOC’s Facebook stating, “We have contacted John, and we are currently helping to look into this. The Family Service Centres (FSC) provide help to individuals and families with personal, social and emotional challenges in their lives. To locate the nearest FSC, please visit www.msf.gov.sg/fsclocator.”
On Tuesday, Mr Lok posted on his post, updating on the case,
“The FSC had called me and sounds concerning, they will be contacting me again after Christmas, they promise to appoint a social worker to visit my family regarding this case. Thanks to MSF.
My family would also like to express our gratitude to those who are concerning this case.
Thanks to the non-mainstream media that help to make aware this case for the improvement of the social work services in our society.”