As these families have less disposable income and savings, they are more susceptible to falling into debt or arrears when faced with unexpected events like retrenchment or health issues.
Even a relatively small debt can have a severe impact on lower-income families financially, psychologically and emotionally, the ministry said.
To help these families, MSF will work with donors to fully fund a progress package that matches families’ repayments to their creditors, up to S$5,000 in debt.
This package, which can only be used once, applies to “verifiable debt”. This is debt owed to licensed companies and organisations that can be verified and for which repayments can be tracked, MSF said. Examples include utility bill arrears, hospital bills or credit card debt.
Informal debts, such as those owed to family and friends, and to unlicensed moneylenders, are not covered.
ComLink+ families will also get help to save up for a home. A progress package jointly funded by a donor and the government will match S$2 for every S$1 families contribute voluntarily to their CPF.
“This will help families save up more quickly for their flat purchase and give them a better chance of fulfilling this aspiration,” said MSF.
For this and the employment package, payouts will be limited to S$30,000 in total across the two support schemes.
With these new moves, families can receive parenting support and send their children to quality preschools in their early years, said Mr Masagos.
Individuals who are motivated to secure a job are also supported by an ecosystem to acquire the skills they need, be matched to a suitable job and benefit from wage support, he added.
“These moves demonstrate our community’s commitment to invest in long-term outcomes. Rather than quick fixes, we want to enable families to build resilience and secure sustained stability and self-reliance, and ultimately social mobility,” said the Social and Family Development Minister.
“It may take a generation or more, but we know that by reinforcing families’ ability to provide their children with a good start in life today, we give them a better chance for a brighter tomorrow.”
FAMILY COACHES, COMMUNITY PARTNERS
While there are ComLink officers who work closely with the families now, their roles will expand as family coaches.
The coaches will work with each family to develop action plans tailored to each family’s needs. They will also coach and motivate the families to achieve their goals, and act as a single point of contact to help them better navigate social support services, said MSF.
“When families feel understood and supported, they are more likely to actively participate in the decision-making process and take steps towards their goals,” said Mr Masagos.
With support from family coaches, families have told MSF that they feel more optimistic about their future, he added.
The ministry emphasised that the programme will be implemented with community partners. About 170 organisations and individuals are partnering Social Service Offices to support ComLink+ families.
DBS, for instance, is a package sponsor who will contribute to the CDA and CPF top-ups for the progress packages on children’s education and savings.
Another ComLink partner, Singapore Pools, will help fund part of the progress package on debt clearance. This is projected to support up to 240 families, said Mr Masagos.
Other ComLink+ partners include companies, charity and voluntary organisations, business associations and schools.