Starting with 80 neighborhoods in 13 autonomous districts, neighborhood community service centers in Seoul will be transformed into resident-centered welfare bases providing integrated health and welfare services through resident participation. The staff of these service centers will visit the homes of local residents, and the number of social welfare workers and visiting nurses has already nearly doubled. The Seoul Metropolitan Government plans to change the previous welfare system, where welfare services were provided at the request of residents, into a “home visiting welfare” system.
The five major changes to the program include: ① the expansion of universal welfare recipients, ② thorough welfare management by personal welfare planners, ③ professional welfare consultants resolving difficulties by listening to the stories of welfare recipients, ④ support for the establishment of resident-centered neighborhood ecosystems, and ⑤ the transformation of neighborhood community service centers.
First, in addition to families suffering from poverty and family crises, which were the original targets of welfare, senior citizens (those over 65 years of age) and families with newborn babies will also receive universal home visiting welfare services. This is the first time in the country that these two groups have been provided such welfare services.
Second, until now, comprehensive welfare management services had only been provided for select welfare recipients. But from now on, all employees of the neighborhood community service centers, now called “Our Village Action Officers,” will oversee all welfare management for the areas under their jurisdiction, carrying out a variety of tasks, from discovering welfare blind spots to actually providing welfare service. “Our Village Action Officers,” along with neighborhood leaders and “sharing neighbors,” will regularly inspect the areas under their jurisdiction, identify residents’ needs, and handle related civil complaints, thereby securing the livelihoods of residents.
Third, welfare service consultations, which had previously been conducted by welfare type, such as basic pension, disability pension, and basic livelihood security, will now be provided by professional welfare consultants in an integrated format, including everything from welfare consultations to customized solutions linked with local resources. This kind of comprehensive service has been made possible for the first time in Korea through neighborhood-level case management. Optimal, comprehensive welfare services will be provided to those who file civil complaints through the cooperation of all community resources, including medical facilities, schools, local civic groups, community lawyers, and CPAs.
Fourth, neighborhood community service centers will now act as bases for the provision of support to community residents, from connecting residents who wish to resolve their problems on their own with the local resources they need to ensuring efficient communication between the city, district, and residents. This system has been instituted with the goal of creating a neighborhood ecosystem led by the residents most knowledgeable about the area so that communities will be empowered to resolve their own issues. These changes have already been made in several autonomous districts through the launch of unique projects.
Fifth, to help each community service center truly become the center of its neighborhood, overseeing health, welfare, and other community issues, the community center buildings have been specially designed by Seoul’s public architects with the cooperation of residents throughout the design process. For the establishment of the buildings, which have been designed to serve as convenient, resident-led spaces, the Seoul Metropolitan Government has provided about KRW 70 million to 80 dongs that were involved in the first phase of the project, and all construction work was completed before July.
“The transformation of the neighborhood community service centers, which are institutions that make direct contact with residents, is the starting point of a welfare system through which all ten million Seoul citizens will be able to receive welfare services in their daily lives, unlike the previous welfare service system, which served only a select group of people,” remarked Seoul Mayor Park Won Soon. “Through the integration of health, welfare, and resident participation, we hope the resident-centered welfare system will be further strengthened, and that welfare blind spots will be eliminated through resident networks. I hope these efforts will lead Seoul to become a city where everyone is happy.”