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Committee of Supply 2023: KidSTART goes nationwide to offer the programme to all eligible families; to support 80% of eligible children in lower-income families, starting from the children born 2023

By user March 3, 2023

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Committee of Supply 2023: KidSTART goes nationwide to offer the programme to all eligible families; to support 80% of eligible children in lower-income families, starting from the children born 2023

Speech By Ms Sun Xueling, Minister Of State For Ministry Of Social And Family Development And Ministry Of Home Affairs, At Committee Of Supply 2023

“SUPPORTING FAMILIES BY GIVING EVERY CHILD A GOOD START”

Uplifting Children from Lower-Income Families

17.        This support will begin from the early years, which are critical for children’s development.

a. The GUSTO study I mentioned earlier found links between mothers’ well-being during pregnancy and their children’s later development.

b. This is why the KidSTART programme supports families as early as possible, starting even before the child is born.

18.        Mr Seah Kian Peng will be glad to know that we have supported over 6,200 children since KidSTART was started in 2016. We have closely studied the impact of the programme on families, and seen positive outcomes for parents and children alike.

a. Through regular home visits, KidSTART equips parents with the skills and knowledge to support their children’s development, health and nutrition.

b.  Parents in KidSTART families who received these visits showed improvements in their parenting skills such as confidence and ability to interact well with their children and reduced parenting stress. Their children also improved in their socio-emotional and daily living skills which is demonstrated in their ability to cooperate with others, manage their emotions and self-control.

i. These are significant outcomes in early childhood interventions, and have far-reaching consequences including influencing many outcomes later in life such as educational attainment and employment.

19.        As DPM Wong mentioned in his Budget speech, we will expand KidSTART nationwide to offer the programme to all eligible families. We expect to support about 80% of children from eligible lower-income families, up from around 20% today, beginning with children born this year.

a. To achieve this expansion, we will be working with KKH and NUH to develop protocols to allow us to systematically identify and encourage more eligible mothers-to-be to sign up for KidSTART.

b.  These eligible mothers-to-be will be supported by a multidisciplinary team during their pregnancy, to help them keep well physically and mentally before childbirth.

c. After their child is born, the new mothers will continue to be supported by KidSTART practitioners in the home, community and preschool settings, to empower them to continue to nurture their children’s growth and development. KidSTART is an open programme and eligible mothers are welcomed to join at any point during their pregnancy or after their child is born.

20.        KidSTART’s success is possible only through partnering our community and corporates, which have given holistic support to families across the social, health and education domains.

a. We are keen to work with more partners as we reach out to more families in the next phase of KidSTART’s expansion. We will also continue to enhance coordination with our partners to better support KidSTART families, as Ms Joan Pereira had suggested.

21.        Our data shows that about 80% of children aged 3 to 4 from lower-income families are enrolled into preschool. This is lower than the enrolment rate for their peers.

a. Lower income families are faced with complex challenges including searching for stable employment, housing or perhaps managing medical issues. Hence, early preschool enrolment for their young children may not be a priority.

22.        We have made some progress through KidSTART and the Preschool Outreach Programme in reaching out to lower-income families to help facilitate their children’s preschool enrolment.

a. We have also taken decisive steps to enhance preschool affordability for lower-income families. Currently, they can pay as low as $3 per month for full-day childcare at Anchor Operator preschools.

b. However, more needs to be done to close the preschool enrolment gap between children from lower-income families and their peers.

23.        Every child from a lower-income household will have priority enrolment in Anchor Operator preschools so that they can be enrolled as soon as possible.

a. We hope that with a facilitated enrolment process, parents from lower income families will work with us and help to enrol their children into preschool by age 3.

24.        Beyond preschool enrolment, we also recognise that children from lower-income families may need more support to attend preschool regularly.

a. KidSTART practitioners will work closely with preschools to address barriers to regular preschool attendance for KidSTART children.

b. ComLink, which SPS Eric Chua will elaborate on later, also addresses attendance barriers and other family needs holistically.

25.        Under the Forward SG exercise, we are studying how to further support children from lower-income families in preschools, including considering different ways to encourage timely enrolment and regular attendance. We will provide more updates when ready.

26.        Together, these moves will lay a stronger foundation to help children from lower-income families progress in life.

a. By intervening early to improve support subsequent education and life outcomes, we hope to sustain social mobility across generations.

CLOSING

33.        Chairman, In Mandarin please.

a. It is important that we continue to build strong and resilient families, which are the bedrock of society.

i. Families play an indispensable role in caring and raising our children, especially in their earliest years.

ii. Families encourage our children to progress towards their aspirations, help them develop the right mindset to overcome challenges and inspire them to take the opportunities presented to them. These are the most valuable lessons that will carry our children through life.

家庭是社会的基石。继续强化家庭的稳固和韧性是至关重要的。家庭在照顾和养育孩子方面扮演至关重要的角色,尤其是在孩子年幼的时候。家庭鼓励孩子朝自己的理想迈进,培养他们克服挑战的成长心态,激发他们把握机会力争上游。这些都是宝贵的人生经验,让我们的下一代终身受益。

b. We recognise that parents may have different needs and preferences when caring for their children.

i. Today, most infants are cared for in a home-based setting by caregivers such as parents and family members, while around one in five infants are in centre-based infant care. At the playgroup years, there is also a growing segment of families who are enrolling their children in preschools.

ii. The Government is studying how to better support families with infants, to meet varying preferences and needs. We will share more when ready.

我们意识到,父母在照顾孩子时,有不同的需求和考量。当孩子很小的时候,许多父母希望自己或家人能全全负起看护孩子的责任,也有约五分之一的婴孩在托儿所得到照顾。当孩子到了1岁半到3岁的年龄,越来越多的家庭选择送孩子去幼儿园。政府正在研究如何更好地支持育有婴幼儿的家庭,我们会在适当的时候给大家分享更多这方面的信息。

c. For children aged 3 and above, preschool can be the best option to meet parents’ caregiving needs while supporting children’s development.

i. We have made good progress in improving access to affordable and quality preschools, and will continue to invest heavily in our preschools.

对三岁及以上的孩童来说,学前教育中心或幼儿园可被视为最佳的选择,这可以培育孩童的全面发展,同时也能满足家长看护的需求。在学前教育这方面,我们已取得了良好的进展。政府将继续大力资助,让国人受惠于更优质、更经济的学前教育。

d.  There are also some families that need more help in their journey. We will step up our efforts to provide targeted and timely support for children from lower-income families, as well as families who have children with developmental needs.

i. We need community partners and volunteers to come alongside such families to create a strong tapestry of support, empowering them and their children to rise above their circumstances.

ii. Preschools and early childhood educators also play an important role, working closely with parents and the community to equip these children with the tools that they need to develop and thrive alongside their peers.

一些家庭在育儿方面需要我们更多的援助。我们将加紧努力,为来自低收入家庭的孩子,以及有发展需要的孩子,提供针对性和及时的援助。我们需要社区伙伴和志愿者们的参与和支持,一起为这些家庭编织安全网,帮助他们突破困境。学前教育中心和幼教老师也扮演着重要角色,与家长和社区紧密合作,协助这些孩子与同龄的孩子一起茁壮成长。

e. It takes a whole-of-society effort to build a Singapore Made for Families.

i.  For the next three years, MSF will shine the spotlight on and celebrate the good work of those who deliver social good every day, starting with 2023 as the Year of Celebrating Social Service Partners to recognise the integral contributions of partners from within and beyond the social service sector who work with us and with each other to build strong families and a caring society.

ii.  Let us work closely together to empower parents to give our children the opportunity to achieve their fullest potential – by nurturing their early growth and development at home, and enrolling them in preschool by age 3 so that they can benefit from quality preschool education.

打造一个亲家庭的新加坡需要整个社会的齐心协力。社会及家庭发展部将在未来三年,着重表彰活跃于社会公益服务的好人好事。2023年也将是庆祝社会服务伙伴年,以肯定来自社会服务领域及其他伙伴所作出的贡献,感谢他们与我们携手合作,共同建立坚韧的家庭和关爱的社会。

接下来,让我们一齐协助家长,让幼儿在不同年龄阶段获得妥当的照顾和完善的教育。学前教育对三岁及以上的幼儿尤其重要。我们要为孩子们奠定良好的基础,发挥他们最大的潜能。

34.        Chairman, parents should have the assurance that their children will be well-supported and have good access to opportunities to progress in life, regardless of their starting points.

a. This is a commitment that we want to make, and a journey we want to walk alongside our families.

35.        We are all familiar with the phrase “it takes a village to raise a child”.

36.        What it means for us today is that it takes many helping hands to give every child a good start in life, and build a Singapore Made for Families together.

a. Our preschools, social service agencies, healthcare institutions, and other community partners have made good progress in supporting families with young children. The Government will continue to work with them in a more coordinated manner.

37.        Even as we work together to strengthen support for families, every family must be willing to come forward, seize the opportunities presented to them, and do their part to achieve stability, self-reliance and social mobility.

38.        Thank you.


Extracted from: Speech by Ms Sun Xueling, Minister of State for Ministry of Social and Family Development and Ministry of Home Affairs, at Committee of Supply 2023 | Ministry of Social and Family Development (msf.gov.sg)