In 1992, the Singapore Council of Social Service (SCSS) rebranded as the National Council of Social Service (NCSS) with a fresh logo and identity.
Leading the Way
NCSS was entrusted by the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) to become the national coordinator of Family Service Centres (FSCs).
We organised our inaugural Mental Health Campaign, ‘Be Happy, Be You” tailored for the youth.
The launch of four new networks – Children's Home, Youth Services, Community Care (East), and Mental Health Community Care – marked a significant step toward inter-agency collaboration and coordination, fostering improved service integration and the identification of service gaps.
At the same time, we embarked on our first-phase $4 million computerisation project for 89 VWOs, deploying 267 computers with standard office automation packages and customised welfare system applications over three years. We also introduced "My First Gift" encouraging preschoolers at the PAP Community Foundation's Education Centers to share with children in need.
A Pioneering Move
Singapore Pools' sponsorship covered the entire operating expenditure of Community Chest, ensuring that 100% of the funds raised from the public directly benefited charities.
We launched the Community Chest Corporate Community Involvement Programme to cultivate enduring partnerships with corporate supporters. Concurrently, we introduced 'Social Services in the 21st Century – The NCSS Vision' publication to plan, develop and reposition the future of social services.
In 2001, we inaugurated the President's Social Service Award, presented by the President of Singapore to honour outstanding volunteers. Additionally, the Programme Evaluation System (PES) was implemented to monitor and assess social service programme outputs and outcomes. This initiative evolved into EPES, an enhanced web-based system for social service agencies to report on outputs, outcomes, and client milestone indicators.
A Commitment to Learning
The launch of the Social Service Training Institute (SSTI) addressed the training needs of the sector. In 2013, SSTI evolved into the Social Service Institute (SSI), reflecting a broader vision to be a one-stop centre for human capital needs within the sector.
Golden Jubilee Celebration
We led a sector-wide celebration of 50 years of social service, commemorated with the publication of 'For All We Care – 50 Years of Social Service in Singapore, 1958-2008,' and a TV programme titled 'Heart@Work – The NCSS Story.' During this period, we also celebrated Community Chest's 25th Anniversary, marked by the inaugural Heartstrings Walk and the opening of ComChest Green in Labrador Park, an inspiring space celebrating the spirit of giving and community engagement.
Furthermore, we introduced the Sabbatical Leave and Professional & Leadership Development Schemes to elevate the standards and development of social workers.
Golden Jubilee Celebration
We led the establishment of the Special Needs Trust Company, a non-profit trust company dedicated to the financial needs of individuals with disabilities in collaboration with the then-MCYS. Simultaneously, we collaborated with the then-MCYS and the Singapore Association of Social Workers to implement the Accreditation for Social Workers and Social Service Practitioners, ensuring professional standards in the social work field. Additionally, we launched the Social Service Hub @ Tiong Bahru, NCSS' first shared office space for Voluntary Welfare Organizations (VWOs).
A Vision for the Future
Project HOME emerged as a pilot project to reach out to needy families residing in Interim Rental Housing, a collaboration with the then-MCYS, FSCs, Community Development Councils (CDCs), House Development Board (HDB), and Ministry of National Development (MND). We also launched a new framework for vocational mainstream education with the Ministry of Education (MOE), assisting students with special needs in gaining competencies and skills for a smooth transition to employment.
We introduced the FSC Advisory Council to provide strategic guidance to Family Service Centres (FSCs) in making their services more accessible and relevant to the community's needs. Simultaneously, the Social Service Talent Development Scheme that aims to nurture a pipeline of well-qualified, highly experience and well-round professionals to provide leadership within the sector was launched.
A Movement of Care and Sharing
Launching the Care & Share Movement, a national fundraising and volunteerism initiative led by Community Chest in celebration of SG50, was a major highlight. The movement successfully raised a record-breaking $1.3 billion in donations and matching government grants for the social service sector. In the same year, SSI was appointed as a Continuing Education and Training (CET) Centre by the Work & Development Authority (WDA). We also initiated the "We are Able! Enhancing Possibilities, Celebrating Abilities" campaign, a nationwide call-to-pledge exercise that was part of a year-long NCSS campaign to rally support for creating an inclusive society for persons with disabilities.
We launched the Sun Ray Scheme to recruit, develop, and deploy social service professionals into leadership positions within SSAs.
In 2015, we partnered with NParks to develop the Inclusive Playground at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park. Today, there are a total of 13 inclusive playgrounds islandwide. Simultaneously, we launched the National Social Work Competency Framework, which empowers social workers to chart their career and professional development.
Furthermore, we conducted the first Quality of Life (QOL) study for persons with disabilities, seniors, and individuals with mental health conditions. The insights and findings from this study, shared with media, policymakers, and partners in the social service ecosystem, were subsequently published to guide the development of programmes, initiatives, and further research aimed at enhancing the quality of life for those we serve.
The "See the True Me" public education campaign was started to promote the inclusion of persons with disabilities in society. In the same year , Community Chest launched SHARE as One, encouraging more sustained ground-up efforts by employees to donate and volunteer.
We initiated the Social Service Tribe, a platform for social service agencies to attract talent into the sector. We also began the Beyond the Label movement, a five-year public education effort aimed at addressing stigma toward persons with mental health conditions.
In addition to these programmes, we introduced the NCSS Enhanced Volunteer Manager Funding Scheme (Enhanced VMFS), a two-year initiative that funded 50 Volunteer Managers. These managers were instrumental in helping SSAs build capabilities in Volunteer Management by having a dedicated headcount.
Pioneering Youth Leadership
2019 marked a significant milestone with the launch of 40-Under-40, a signature youth leadership platform designed for the next generation of leaders to drive sector transformation and nurture a collaborative mindset among them. Simultaneously, we inaugurated the Sector Design Challenge, a platform bringing participants from the People, Private, and Public (3-P) sectors together. Here, they forged new partnerships, developed human-centered design skills, and created innovative solutions to address the needs of social service users.
We also announced two new initiatives, Tech Booster and Project Back-to-Basics, with close to $20 million in funding from the National Productivity Fund. These initiatives aimed to offer ready technologies and innovative solutions at attractive subsidies to alleviate manpower challenges in the sector.
The challenging year of 2020 saw the establishment of the Beyond COVID-19 Taskforce. This task force united the sector and key stakeholders, developing a set of recommendations to strengthen SSAs' resilience and help them emerge stronger from the pandemic. Additionally, 'The Invictus Fund' was introduced to aid SSAs in coping with the COVID-19 situation. It facilitated investments in technology to ensure the delivery of critical social services to the communities in need.
In a technology-driven world, we launched Tech-and-GO!, a one-stop technology hub. This hub provided funding for IT solutions, advisory and consultancy services, as well as capability-building workshops for SSAs to develop digital knowledge and capacity.
A Digital Transformation
2021 brought about a strategic partnership with the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF). This partnership led to the launch of the Industry Digital Plan for Social Services (IDPSS). The IDPSS was designed to provide systematic guidance for SSAs to assess and accelerate their digitisation efforts based on their needs and digital readiness. We also developed the Learning and Development Roadmap for Volunteer Management Practitioners (VMPs), providing guidance on the skills and competencies required for volunteer management practitioners.
Additionally, we initiated the People Practice Consultancy (PPC) project. This project aimed to strengthen and enhance the HR capabilities of SSAs, supporting the workforce to deliver effective service.
A Tool for Progress
In 2022, we launched the Sector Evaluation Framework (SEF). This framework provided SSAs with a common tool to validate the effectiveness of their programmes and services, allowing for appropriate resource allocation. It also led to improved service quality and better outcomes for service users.
We also introduced the Organisational Health Framework for Social Services (OHFSS), We also introduced the Organisational Health Framework for Social Services (OHFSS) that enabled social service agencies to conduct self-assessments of their business operations, identifying areas for improvement in capabilities and capacity.