Supported by Citi Foundation, the new programme empowers social workers to better support financially vulnerable individuals and families
Some 1,400 social work practitioners who are registered with the Social Work Accreditation Board in Singapore will soon benefit from the nationwide roll-out of the Singapore Financial Capability and Asset Building (SG FCAB) Training programme offered through the Continuing Professional Education (CPE) arm of the Department of Social Work at the National University of Singapore’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS).
The innovative programme was launched at the “Embracing Financial Capability and Asset Building in Social Work Practice: Working with Vulnerable Populations in Singapore” symposium organised by FASS. Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, Speaker of Parliament, attended the event as the Guest-of-Honour and participated in a lively dialogue with the social work fraternity.
First-of-its-kind in Asia, the SG FCAB Training programme builds on the success of the SG FCAB curriculum developed in 2017. Recognising that there was no formal training in FCAB for social workers in Singapore then, the Next Age Institute (NAI) at FASS and Citi Foundation embarked on an initiative in 2017 to develop a curriculum that bridge the gap and equip social workers and social work students with relevant knowledge and skills to help low-income individuals and families improve their financial capabilities.
The SG FCAB curriculum had received positive feedback when pilot-tested with 92 social workers from the various social service organisations and 60 NUS social work undergraduates in 2018.
Mr Bernard Chen, Senior Social worker at Chen Su Lan Methodist Welfare Home, who participated in the pilot training, said, “In my work with vulnerable families, I always felt that there is a significant gap in the services that help low-income families break out of the poverty cycle, as interventions were mostly aimed at helping families cope within their means instead of building for the future. The SG FCAB training is a strong foundation for social workers to provide financial interventions beyond budgeting or balancing needs and wants. With the training, I found myself better equipped to help families understand their financial situation, and to assist them in developing a plan to achieve their financial goals.”
Comprehensive curriculum to address needs of low-income individuals and families
Now a full-scale programme, the SG FCAB Training programme will offer a comprehensive list of topics to raise the competencies of social work practitioners in Family Service Centres, as well as Disability and Child Welfare sectors in Singapore. The SG FCAB Training programme aims to empower social workers to provide guidance to financially vulnerable families and individuals on household financial matters such as managing cash, budgets, credit, debt and savings as well as protecting their financial well-being. Some of the key topics that will be covered under the programme include “What is Financial Capability and Asset Building?”, “Why Social Work?”, “Housing & Homeownership”, “Long-Term Savings & Investments” as well as “Problem Debt Management & Debt Negotiation”.
The training programme will entail a blend of e-learning and classroom training, and a website has since been developed to facilitate this training approach. The website also serves as an online resource for social workers involved in the training to gather relevant FCAB training materials for use in their practice.
250 social workers to receive training by end 2020
The development and implementation of the SG FCAB Training programme have been supported by a generous gift of US$630,000 from Citi Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Citi, made to NUS since 2017.
Mr Amol Gupte, ASEAN Head and Citi Country officer for Singapore said, “Citi’s partnership with NUS to address a gap in society reflects our global mission of enabling growth and progress through the work that we do. It becomes all the more significant when our programmes have scalability and are able to make a difference to a wide group of people who are in need. Citi has been in Singapore since 1902, and we aim to continue making a meaningful and long lasting contribution to the community”.
Associate Professor Chia Ngee Choon, Co-Director of NAI, said, “I would like to extend my deepest appreciation to Citi Foundation, key stakeholders involved the SG FCAB Initiative as well as the social workers and students involved in the pilot training programme which has been so well received in the social service sector. Every social worker is a cheerleader who is gently planting the seeds of hope in financially vulnerable families so that their lives could be transformed positively. The SG FCAB Training programme will enhance the professional competencies of social workers, hence allowing them to continue to empower financially vulnerable individuals and families in achieving financial well-being and security.”
Assoc Prof Chia added that the team supporting the SG FCAB Training programme will continue to partner key stakeholders from the Ministry of Social and Family Development, the National Council of Social Service, Singapore Association of Social Workers, Institute for Financial Literacy as well as key community organisations to institutionalise the training on a nationwide basis.
SG FCAB Training programme will be launched in July 2019 and 250 social workers are expected to receive the training by end 2020.