Our Humble Beginnings

Before 1958, social services were hampered by the lack of proper coordination and support. The Singapore Council of Social Service (SCSS) was established on 22 Dec 1958 to meet the urgent needs of the sector and to bring together organisations and individuals with interest in community service and social welfare.
In 1983, Community Chest was established as a centralised fund-raiser to relieve Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWOs) of the need to carry out fund-raising activities so that they could focus instead on providing better care and services for the needy. A year later, the SHARE (Social Help and Assistance Raised by Employees) programme, the Volunteer Action and Development Centre, and the Sharity programme were initiated.

The restructuring of SCSS in 1992 to become the National Council of Social Service (NCSS) set the momentum for social services to leap into the 21st century.

Key Milestones

  • 1992_NCSS_logoSingapore Council of Social Service (SCSS) was restructured as National Council of Social Service (NCSS) with a new logo and identity.

  • 1994_FamilyServiceCentreAppointed by then Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) as the national co-ordinator of Family Service Centres (FSCs).

  • Organised the first Mental Health Campaign, ‘Be Happy, Be You,” targeted at youth.

  • Launched four new networks — Children's Home, Youth Services, Community Care (East) and Mental Health Community Care and subsequently, the Family Service Centre Network and Community Care Network (Central). Today, these networks promote inter-agency collaborations and co-ordination, resulting in better integration of services and effective identification of service gaps in the different sectors.

    Commenced the first phase of the $4 million computerisation project for 89 VW0s - installed 267 computers with standard office automation packages and customised welfare system applications over a three-year period.

    "My First Gift" was introduced to encourage pre-schoolers at the PAP Community Foundation's Education Centres to contribute to children in need.

  • Secured for the first time, Singapore Pools' sponsorship to underwrite the entire operating expenditure of ComChest. Hence, 100% of the funds raised by ComChest from the public went to the charities.

  • Launched the Community Chest Corporate Community Involvement Programme to forge longer-term partnerships with corporate supporters.

    1999_SocialService21Century_Cover800Launched ‘Social Services in the 21st Century – The NCSS vision’ publication to develop and re-position social services for the future.

  • Inaugurated the President's Social Service Award, conferred by the President of Singapore to recognise outstanding volunteers.

    Implemented the Programme Evaluation System(PES) to monitor and assess social service programme outputs and outcomes. In 2010, EPES, the Enhanced version of PES, a web-based system that facilitates submission by social service agencies on outputs, outcomes and client milestone indicators.

  • 2003_SSTI_LaunchLaunched Social Service Training Institute (SSTI) to respond to the training needs in the sector. In 2013, SSTI was renamed as Social Service Institute (SSI) to reflect its enhanced vision to go beyond training to become a one-stop centre for human capital needs for the sector.

  • 2008_50thAnniversaryLed a sector-wide celebration of 50 years of social service that included publishing a commemorative book 'For All We Care - 50 Years of Social Service in Singapore, 1958-2008’ and a TV programme ‘Heart@Work – The NCSS Story’.

    Celebrated Community Chest's 25th Anniversary and started the first Heartstrings Walk and the opening of ComChest Green in Labrador Park, which is a place to celebrate the spirit of giving and community engagement.

    Introduced the Sabbatical Leave, and Professional & Leadership Development Schemes to enhance the standards and development of social workers.

  • 2009_SpecialNeedsTrustCoLed the formation of the Special Needs Trust Company, a non-profit trust company to take care of the financial needs of persons with disabilities, in collaboration with then MCYS.

    Jointly implemented the Accreditation for Social Workers and Social Service Practitioners with the then-MCYS and the Singapore Association of Social Workers to ensure professional standards among social work practitioners.

    2009_SSH@TBLaunched Social Service Hub @ Tiong Bahru, NCSS’ first shared office space for Voluntary Welfare Organisation (VWOs).

  • Set up Project HOME, a pilot project to reach out to needy families staying in Interim Rental Housing in collaboration with then-MCYS, FSCs, Community Development Councils (CDCs), House Development Board (HDB) and Ministry of National Development (MND).

    Launched a new framework for vocational mainstream education with Ministry of Education (MOE) to help students with special needs gain competencies and skills to make a smooth transition to employment.

  • Formed the FSC Advisory Council to provide strategic guidance to FSCs to enable their services to be more accessible and relevant to the needs of the community.

    2011_SSTDS_XinyanLaunched Social Service Talent Development Scheme to develop a pipeline of well-qualified, highly experienced and well-rounded professionals to provide leadership for the sector.

  • 2013_Care&Share_ZeoTayPosterLaunched the Care & Share Movement, a national fundraising and volunteerism movement led by Community Chest, in celebration of SG50. The movement raised a record $1.3 billion in donations and matching government grants for the social service sector.

    SSI appointed as a Continuing Education and Training (CET) Centre by Work & Development Authority (WDA).

    Launched We are Able! Enhancing Possibilities, Celebrating Abilities campaign. A nation-wide call-to-pledge exercise is part of a year-long NCSS campaign to rally support to create an inclusive society for persons with disabilities.

  • 2014_SunRaySun Ray Scheme launched to recruit, develop and deploy social service professionals to take on leadership positions within SSAs.

  • 2015_Inclusive Playground@Bishan AMK Park RiPartnered NParks to develop the Inclusive Playground at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park. Today, there are a total of 13 inclusive playgrounds islandwide.

    Launched the National Social Work Competency Framework to empower social workers to chart their career and professional development.

    2015_QualityOfLifeConducted the first Quality of Life (QOL) study for persons with disabilities, seniors and persons with mental health conditions.  In 2017, the insights and findings were shared with media, policymakers and partners in social service ecosystem, and subsequently published to guide development of programmes, initiatives and further research to enhance the QOL of persons we serve.

  • 2016_STTMStarted the “See the True Me” public education campaign to encourage the inclusion of persons with disabilities in society.

    2016_share_as_oneCommunity Chest launched SHARE as One to encourage more ground-up efforts by employees to donate and volunteer in a more sustained manner.

  • 2018_Tribe_PinkLaunched the Social Service Tribe, a strategic platform for social service agencies to attract talent into the sector.

    2018_BeyondTheLabel_BTL_groupStarted the Beyond the Label movement, a five-year public education effort to address stigma towards persons with mental health conditions.

    Introduced the NCSS Enhanced Volunteer Manager Funding Scheme (Enhanced VMFS), a two-year scheme which funded 50 Volunteer Managers to support SSAs in building capabilities in Volunteer Management by having a dedicated headcount. SSAs who have taken up the Scheme to hire a dedicated Volunteer Manager have discovered the potential and reaped benefits for their programmes.

  • 2019_40Under40Launched 40-Under-40, a signature youth leadership platform for the next generation leaders to initiate sector transformation, and to nurture a collaborative mindset among them.

    2019_SectorDesignChallenge3549Inaugurated the Sector Design Challenge, a platform for participants from the People, Private and Public (3-P) organisations to forge new partnerships, develop and build human-centred design skill-sets as well as develop innovative solutions to address the needs of social service users.

    2019_TechBoosterAnnounced two new initiatives, Tech Booster and Project Back-to-Basic with funding of close to $20 million from the National Productivity Fund to offer ready technologies and innovative solutions at attractive subsidies to alleviate manpower challenges in the sector.

  • Set up the Beyond COVID-19 Taskforce to bring the sector and key stakeholders together to develop a set of recommendations to build SSAs’ resilience and emerge stronger from the pandemic.

    2020_TheInvictusFundEstablished ‘The Invictus Fund’ to help SSAs better cope with the COVID-19 situation, such as through investing in technology to ensure that they can continue to deliver critical social services to the vulnerable.

    2020_TheCourageFundComchest raised funds for ‘The Courage Fund’ to support healthcare front-line workers and lower-income families affected by COVID-19.

    2020_Tech&Go_bannerLaunched Tech-and-GO!, a one-stop technology hub that provides funding for IT solutions, advisory and consultancy, as well as capability building workshops for SSAs to develop digital knowledge.

  • 2021_IDPSSIn partnership with Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), the Industry Digital Plan for Social Services (IDPSS) was launched to provide systematic guidance on how SSAs can assess and accelerate their digitalisation, depending on their needs and digital readiness.

    2021_Learning&DevelopmtRoadmapVMPDeveloped the Learning and Development Roadmap for Volunteer Management Practitioners (VMPs) to provide guidance on the skills and competencies required for volunteer management practitioners.

    Started the People Practice Consultancy (PPC) project to strengthen and enhance the HR capabilities of SSAs, to support the workforce to provide effective service delivery. More than 220 customised HR consultancy sessions were provided to 96 SSAs. The enhancement of HR practice among the 92 SSAs is estimated to have impacted more than 11,000 Social Service Professionals working in these agencies.

  • Launched the Sector Evaluation Framework (SEF), a common tool for SSAs to validate the effectiveness of their programmes and services so that resources can be allocated appropriately, leading to better service quality and outcomes for the service user.

    2022_OHFSS_guideDeveloped the Organisational Health Framework for Social Services Social (OHFSS), a one-stop portal for social service agencies to conduct a self-assessment of their business operations and identify the areas they can improve their capabilities and step up capacity.