Assoc Prof Jamus Jerome Lim asked the Minister for Social and Family Development (a) how does the Ministry classify families with special needs children for the purposes of ComCare assistance, specifically whether these are evaluated for Short-to-Medium Term Assistance (SMTA) or Long-Term Assistance (LTA); (b) if these families are classified as SMTA cases, whether they may instead be considered for LTA; and (c) if not, why not.
Mr Masagos Zulkifli B M M: Families with special needs children receive Government subsidies for various services and programmes, such as subsidies for dedicated transport under the Enabling Transport Subsidy Scheme, the Assistive Technology Fund for purchasing assistive technology devices and subsidised fees for the Early Intervention Programme for Infants and Children (EIPIC). MSF has been enhancing the affordability of disability services. For example, this year, we increased the subsidies for the Enabling Transport Subsidy and the Assistive Technology Fund. In July 2020, we increased subsidies and broadened the income criteria to qualify for the Student Care Financial Assistance Scheme (SCFA).
ComCare, on the other hand, helps families in low-income households with their basic living expenses. In each ComCare application, the income and expenses of the specific household is considered holistically. This takes into account the household’s disability needs.
If a child with special needs is under the care of parents or guardians who are able to work, the household would generally be assessed for Short-to-Medium-Term Assistance (SMTA). This provides temporary assistance while the family is supported to get back on their feet. For instance, the Social Service Office (SSO) would help the work-capable adults in such households to take steps towards gaining employment or a higher-paying job. The steps may include securing alternative care arrangements for the child. If a child with special needs is permanently unable to work and the household has limited or no means of income and support, they would be considered for Long-Term Assistance (LTA).
Ministry of Social and Family Development
3 October 2022