Thursday, March 8, 2012

=( Social Worker Advertisements in Singapore

This is the reason I revived my blog. Hai, I think all these months of writing lengthy (4-5K words) reports killed my enthusiasm for my blogposts.

Recently, such adverts are going around Singapore in bid to attract people into the profession. They are circulated by the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports and are plastered on public buses and other social media. The posters have sparked some online debate.

I feel what we've done is to give the general public a wrong impression of social workers by labelling our clients as such. And make it sound as if social workers are such amazing top-down miracle workers.


Oh well, to reframe the matter, any form of publicity is good publicity, no?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

How many social workers does it take to change a lightbulb?

How many Social Workers does it take to change a lightbulb?

“The light bulb doesn’t need changing, it’s the system that needs to change.”
None. Social workers never change anything.
None. They empower it to change itself!
None. The light bulb is not burnt out, it’s just differently lit.
None. They set up a team to write a paper on coping with darkness.
Two. One to change the bulb and another to put your kids into care.
Five. One to screw it in, three to form the support group, and one to help with placement.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


"Burnout occurs only when you have not found the right way
to deal with yourself and your clients."


I took leave the past couple of days, because I felt breathless handling some of my clients and needed a break before I burnout. I had began dreaming weird dreams of them and even thought of them while I was on leave.. tsk tsk.. no good... I pride myself as someone who is able to draw boundaries quite well and manage a work-life balance. But sometimes, it's just hard to let go even for me, especially when we know how much my clients are going through.

I was especially bothered by this client who just found out that he was adopted, and began acting out in school. As usual, there were so many "what ifs" that I thought I could have done with the parents; to let them consider how and when better to break the news than the way they did. I felt I could have certainly done better, much better. And then I recalled that I am human after all. But have I done any harm to the child?

Yesterday during the symposium, it was presented that if we can't do good all the time, at least do no harm to our clients. I thought long and hard about it, and yeah, it made sense to me at that point in time. But now upon reflection, it is not such a simple thing after all. In this case, I dunno if I have done harm to the client=( Well, technically speaking, I did not cause a direct harm to him. Rather, it is precisely what I did not do that resulted in him having to go through the confusion, anger and sadness right now. Urgh.

Interestingly, I am feeling confused, angry and sad right now...


Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Singapore's social workers had a celebration today with the theme: Redefining PASSION.

I had alot to digest from today's symposium and networking session (and food!). Shall consolidate my thoughts and post them up soon!


Wednesday, March 10, 2010


This is the reason I am reviving my blog. HAHAHA! So today's topic will be on our PAY HIKE!

For overseas readers and people who aren't that familiar with how social workers are paid here in Singapore, it goes like this...

The pre-requisite for being a social worker in Singapore is a BA in Social Work or shared major in Social Work + something else which equates to a starting pay of $1800-$2000 for most if not all VWOs (Just for a comparison, a public bus captain here can earn up to $1900 a month). This is standardised by National Council of Social Service (NCSS) which governs all the social service agencies. And NCSS comes under the Ministry of Community Development, Youths and Sports (MCYS). So to cut the story short, funds to VWOs come from MCYS and NCSS. Thereafter, how VWOs distribute $$$ to salaries/programmes/admin etc is different for each on of them.

However, if one chooses to work as a medical social worker (MSW), the guidelines are slightly different. If I am not wrong, they are governed by Ministry of Health (MOH) who hire MSW as "allied health professionals". As such, their starting pay is usually $200-$300 higher than a peer with the exact same qualification. There has been debate amongst social workers on why the vast difference. The pay and benefits are so much better despite the fact that the qualification and designation are the same!

I surely welcome the pay hike to match social workers pay to that of MSWs, which hopefully comes along with more recognition to what we really do. I mean I do not belittle the work that MSWs do. Their caseload can hit up to 100+!!!! FSCs do not have it any better - 60-80 on average, more so if turnover of staff is high and cases get passed on? Caseload at Homes are usually 30-40ish. I am thankful that at my current workplace, my director is firm about quality over quantity and our caseload is capped at 20. I am currently doing 13 cases but with very intensive intervention and supervision, so I am one happy social worker for now.

WHEEEEEE!!! AND Happy Social Workers' Day in advance my fellow social workers!

*Hmmm... if teachers get a day off on Teachers' Day, why not social workers? For the record, I took leave on 16 March to give myself a break and catch up with my social work buddies!

**And finally.. I will be eligible for credit cards! hahaa.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

the unknown

The PSLE results are out today. My mother, who is a home tutor for primary school students and I had a lengthy discussion about my two cousins who just received their report card hours ago. We debated about the most important criteria in choosing a school. My mother thinks schools do not really matter, as long as the child is determined to succeed and works hard. I beg to differ. Having been a youth social worker for the past two and a half years, I have seen how a good school environment (Principal, teachers, peers and culture etc) can be a protective factor for the development of a teenager. The simple fact is, there is a lower probability for the child turn astray if he is in a good school. Period.

Well, that aside, I also took some time to reflect upon my upbringing and the way I handled my first major examination of my life. You see, I was taught to come up with answers to questions posed in class. I was taught to either memorise them (like Chinese characters), or remember them in a certain way (Mathematics - the standard steps to solve standard questions). Practice papers and past year examination papers were a must to do and re-do. There was hardly any room for creativity, except perhaps during Art and PE classes, many of which were always the first to be replaced by examinable subjects should the teacher be rushing for time to finish the syllabus.

I was also not comfortable with not knowing everything about the subject before taking the examination papers. I was simply not comfortable with not knowing.

Then came the 'O' levels; the most angsty period of any one's life. Sure, I was in one of the top schools then, but I found it hard to cope with the sudden increase in curriculum and subjects. I did not fare well in artsy subjects such as literature and history. Too many words; too many intangible stuff. I did not fare well in the Sciences either, all three of them. Too technical, plus I could not link them to why they were important in my life to lose sleep over them. I continued to score straight As in my Mathematics though, heh.

Throughout the four years, I (over)indulged in my CCA instead. I guess during that period, when I was questioning what was life all about, my band conductor did no other teachers in class did, that is to explain the (or rather his) philosophy of life through music. He once commented, "You learn 'A' Math for what? To go market buy fish ah?" With that, it marked a shift in the way I learn. I began to place more attention on intangible yet equally significant things in life, especially feelings and emotions, as well as character development.

Junior College came and went like a breeze. The super crazy and ra-ra two years of my life. I took the time to build relationships and enjoy the company of my schoolmates. I eventually did well enough to enter University and decided to major in social work.

University days deserve a post on its on, so that's for another entry.

It just hit me today when I was chatting with my colleagues, that many a times in counseling, we are threading on uncertainties. Did we build enough rapport? Is our hypothesis and assessment spot-on? How should we intervene? Will it work? What if it doesn't? Will it be detrimental to our clients? What if the intervention seem to work? How sure can we be that is is not due to other factors that caused a shift in the client's life? and I'm sure the list can go on and on....

In as much as they do not know the answer, we x10000000000 do not know the solution given we are not even in their position! Plus, are there even answers in the first place?

The only certainty is that we are on a journey of the unknown with our clients.
How ready and comfortable are we to do that each time we receive a new case?


"To sit without the answer, in a state of unknowing and be comfortable with it, is to embrace that point of infinity in which all things are possible."


Sunday, November 22, 2009

work harder than your client.

Job with the highest stress and lowest pay!

WOW! I am darn proud to be holding a job that has the highest stress and lowest pay!!


Saturday, November 7, 2009


I'm learning to be comfortable with my clients crying.

Maybe I need to be comfortable with myself crying.

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