Back to Newsroom

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

Share
Children from lower-income families get priority enrolment in anchor operator pre-schools

SINGAPORE: Since January this year, children from lower-income families have been prioritised for enrolment into anchor operator pre-schools, the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) said on Friday (Mar 3).

This applies to children from families with a gross monthly household income of up to S$6,000.

Families with a gross monthly household income of S$3,000 and below, as well as those supported by KidSTART and the Preschool Outreach Programme, will be given higher priority.

The five anchor operators are PCF Sparkletots, My First Skool, M.Y World Preschool, Skool4Kidz and E-Bridge Pre-school. Together, these operators run about 600 pre-schools. 

Monthly fees at these pre-schools are capped at S$680 for full-day childcare, S$1,235 for full-day infant care and S$150 for kindergarten, excluding Goods and Services Tax (GST).

More children will also be included in the KidSTART programme, which will be extended to Jalan Besar, Toa Payoh, Sengkang, Hougang and Serangoon in the coming year. It is meant for families with a gross monthly household income of S$2,500 and below or per capita income of S$650 and below.

The programme, introduced in 2016, supports lower-income parents with the knowledge and skills for their young children’s development, health and nutrition, from when the mother is pregnant until the child is six years old.

It has supported more than 6,200 children aged six and below from lower-income families, and targets to onboard 80 per cent of children from eligible families, up from the current 20 per cent, when it is scaled up nationwide by 2026.

It will also be easier for families to get a place in an early intervention centre for children below seven with developmental needs.

A total of 1,400 places will be added over the next two years in new centres offering the Early Intervention Programme for Infants and Children as well as through a private providers programme.

The second programme, called the Enhanced Pilot for Private Intervention Providers, offers another option for children who need early intervention to enrol at ECDA-appointed private centres at subsidised rates. 

From Jul 1, ECDA will introduce caps on the maximum amount that families will pay for this programme. 

Fees differ across providers and range from S$900 to S$2,100 before subsidies. A middle-income family, with a per capita household income of S$1,801 to S$2,300, can expect to pay around S$190 per month after subsidies, less than half of what they are paying today, said Minister of State for Social and Family Development Sun Xueling. 

In addition, ECDA plans to implement the Inclusive Support Programme in more pre-schools from 2026.

Together, these efforts will serve 80 per cent of children with developmental needs requiring medium to high levels of early intervention support by 2027, up from 60 per cent today, said MSF.

“A good start in life begins at birth. The Government is committed to supporting couples as they embark on their parenting journey,” said Ms Sun.

SINGLE TOUCHPOINT FOR COMLINK

Families with children living in rental housing will get more support, with Community Link (ComLink) expanded nationwide to cover 21 communities. 

The current and planned programmes at ComLink communities include reading and numeracy for young children, sports activities and after-school enrichment classes for children and youth, coding lessons, basic financial literacy workshops, and skills upgrading and job matching services, among others.

More than 2,400 volunteers have been recruited to support ComLink efforts, including outreach, befriending and programmes. 

Since November 2022, all families living in rental flats with children have been offered ComLink support. 

ComLink will also streamline common functions across multiple programmes. Today, ComLink families may be approached by befrienders from multiple agencies to offer support.

“Families living in rental flats often run pillar to post, filling out multiple forms, repeating their stories and struggles at different offices to receive all the help they need,” said Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Social and Family Services Eric Chua.

“These families are also visited by befrienders from different agencies and organisations, each sharing their own programmes and criteria. This creates plenty of confusion and adds to these families’ bandwidth tax. This must change.”

ComLink officers will now partner volunteer befrienders to coordinate across programmes and to be the contact person for ComLink families. 

They will work with agencies to address families’ needs and organise the interventions in an action plan that supports families across multiple domains, said MSF. 

Since August last year, 60 ComLink families in Jalan Besar have benefited from this approach, which will be rolled out progressively to more families, said Mr Chua.

MORE FAMILY PROGRAMMES IN THE COMMUNITY

The Families for Life’s FFL@Community programme will be expanded beyond the current two towns at Choa Chu Kang and Yishun to nine towns by end-2023, and to all towns by 2025, said Minister for Social and Family Services Masagos Zulkifli.

FFL@Community aims to strengthen family relationships through marriage preparation, parenting and grandparenting programmes.

In addition to its current marriage and parenting programmes, FFL@Community will also offer marriage mentoring and set up parent peer support groups. 

The marriage and parenting programmes are expected to benefit 4,000 couples and 20,000 parents annually by 2025, an increase from 1,300 couples and 10,000 parents currently. 

Another initiative under FFL, the National Family Week, will be held annually in June following its inauguration last year. 

Mr Masagos said: “Families are the bedrock of our society and our first line of support … A strong society is thus built on strong families, and we must continue our efforts to strengthen families.”


This article was originally featured in Channel News Asia, published Mar 3, 2023

Children from lower-income families get priority enrolment in anchor operator pre-schools (channelnewsasia.com)

Priority pre-school enrolment among moves to aid needy families

SINGAPORE – More early intervention centres and fee subsidies for children with developmental needs, and priority enrolment for children from lower-income households at some pre-schools, are among the moves announced by the Ministry of Social and Family Development on Friday to uplift needy families and give their children a good start in life.

1. COMLNK TO INTEGRATE COMMON FUNCTIONS ACROSS PROGRAMMES

Community Link (ComLink), which supports families with children living in rental housing, has been expanded nationwide to cover 21 social service office towns.

Since November 2022, all families with children who moved into rental flats have automatically been offered ComLink support under the ComLink Rental Scheme.

To enhance the ComLink programme, common functions such as outreach, befriending, and case support will be streamlined across multiple programmes, such as KidSTART, the Uplift Community Network and Project Dian@M3.

Social service officers will partner volunteer befrienders to act as consistent touchpoints to help each family develop an action plan across programmes by different agencies.

Since August 2022, 60 ComLink families in Jalan Besar have benefited from this enhanced approach, which will be rolled out progressively to more families.

More than 2,400 volunteers have been recruited to support ComLink. This allows families to build rapport with befrienders and get more convenient and better coordinated support to meet their needs in various areas, such as health, education and employment.

Programmes under ComLink will include reading and numeracy programmes for young children; sports, coding and financial literacy workshops for youth; and medical services for adults.

On Friday, Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli said in Parliament that the hope is for all families to build resilience and confidence in their future.

“In short, we want all families to achieve the three ‘S’es: stability, self-reliance and social mobility,” he said, describing a society where families are strong and have the means to weather the ups and downs in life, where they have a strong sense of ownership, and can aspire for their children to have a better future.

Ms Fatin Nabilah Omar, a single mother of three, got help from ComLink to complete a nursing course, and job support from the Employment and Employability Institute.

The 32-year-old lives with her children, aged three, 12 and 14, in a two-room public rental flat in Boon Lay.

She works as a server at weddings on an ad hoc basis, and is interviewing for another part-time job in retail.

“(The ComLink befriender) supports me to not just sit at home and wait, but also put in effort to apply for jobs,” she said.

She hopes to work in the food and beverage sector, and eventually start a small F&B business of her own.

Referring to her befriender, Ms Fatin said: “She gives me emotional and financial support, checks in on me and asks how I’m doing. Having someone to talk to feels so nice – even though we’re not related, we’re close like family.”

Her befriender, who is a Nanyang Technological University undergraduate, visits her monthly and sends her information on tuition and enrichment programmes her children can attend.

Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Social and Family Development Eric Chua said there are 760 volunteer befrienders working with 3,500 families today.

2.PRIORITY ENROLMENT FOR CHILDREN FROM LOWER-INCOME FAMILIES AT ANCHOR OPERATOR PRE-SCHOOLS

The Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) has worked with anchor operator pre-schools to prioritise children from families with a gross monthly household income of $3,000 and below for enrolment in childcare programmes from Jan 1, 2023.

Families with an income between $3,001 and $6,000 are also given priority in pre-school enrolment.

Parents can now indicate their monthly household income on ECDA’s Preschool Search Portal, which will allow anchor operator pre-schools to identify eligible children when parents indicate interest in their centres.

Minister of State for Social and Family Development Sun Xueling said more needs to be done to close the pre-school enrolment gap between children from lower-income households and their peers.

“We hope that with a facilitated enrolment process, parents from lower-income families will work with us and help to enrol their children into pre-school by age three,” she said.

“Beyond pre-school enrolment, we also recognise that children from lower-income families may need more support to attend pre-school regularly,” she added.

KidSTART practitioners will work with pre-schools to address barriers to regular attendance for children in the KidSTART programme. 

Ms Sun also noted that 22,000 more full-day pre-school places will be created over the next two years, out of which 7,000 will be for infant care and playgroup programmes.

The number of qualified infant educators here has tripled from 2,100 in 2017 to 6,400 in 2022, she added.

3. KidStart to be expanded

KidSTART which has supported more than 6,200 children aged six and below from lower-income families, will be extended to Jalan Besar, Toa Payoh, Sengkang, Hougang and Serangoon in the coming year.

The programme, which was introduced in 2016 to guide lower-income parents to support their young children’s development, will support 80 per cent of eligible children born from 2023 onwards, up from the current 20 per cent.

KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) and the National University Hospital (NUH) will identify eligible parents and encourage them to sign up at the antenatal stage. A multidisciplinary team of practitioners will support more expectant mothers in their physical and mental health.

Ms Too Xing Man, 19, enrolled in the KidSTART programme when she was pregnant, at NUH’s recommendation.

“I wasn’t ready to have a baby. I was afraid I wouldn’t have much knowledge of motherhood,” she said. “But (NUH staff) assured me that KidSTART would provide enough support.”

KidSTART worked with the Thye Hua Kwan Family Service Centre to help her get her home ready for the baby – for instance, by putting in a floor mat and safety gate.

Her 14-month-old daughter Elena is attending infant care, and Ms Too’s parents take care of the girl when Ms Too is at work as a McDonald’s service crew member.

A KidSTART practitioner visits her monthly to guide her on early childhood development, and to check in on Elena’s growth. The family also receives milk powder, diapers and fresh produce from the community.

4. 1,400 more early intervention places for children with developmental needs

Children aged below seven with developmental needs, and who require medium to high levels of early intervention support, can receive more timely intervention with the addition of 1,400 early intervention places over the next two years.

More centres will be set up to offer the Early Intervention Programme for Infants and Children (Eipic) or the Enhanced Pilot for Private Intervention Providers (PPIP) programme.

Two early intervention centres will open in Fernvale Woods and Bukit Batok by end-2023, with around 300 new Eipic places. Another 300 new Eipic places will be at new sites. The number of PPIP places will also triple over the next two years, from 400 to 1,200 spots by March 2024.

There are currently 21 early intervention centres providing the Eipic, and 16 private early intervention centres offering the PPIP programme.

5. More subsidies for children with developmental needs

From July 1, ECDA will introduce caps on the maximum amount that families will pay for the PPIP programme. A middle-income family can expect to pay around $190 per month for the PPIP after subsidies, less than half of the $450 they are paying today.

Additionally, ECDA plans to implement the Inclusive Support Programme in more pre-schools from 2026. The programme allows children aged three to six who require medium levels of early intervention to attend pre-schools that also provide early intervention services, instead of having to shuttle between pre-schools and early intervention centres.

The increase in places will serve 80 per cent of children with developmental needs requiring medium to high levels of early intervention support by 2027, up from 60 per cent today.

Jenny (not her real name) found that her three-year-old son might have developmental needs when his pre-school teachers said he often played alone and did not interact with other children.

The housewife, who has another twin boy, took him to KKH where, after a series of assessments, he was diagnosed with autism.

He was put on the wait list for an Eipic spot, but his parents decided to enrol him at The Skilt Centre, a private early intervention centre, due to the shorter wait time.

“I wanted to put him in school as soon as possible,” said Jenny.

Six months on, the boy has picked up social skills such as making eye contact and greeting his peers.

“Now his teachers are saying he can take instructions better, plays with his classmates – at home he used to refuse to talk, but now he talks more and even sings,” said Jenny.

On Friday, Mr Masagos said the Government will leave no one behind. But it cannot do this alone, he added.

“We need a coordinated ecosystem of partners. Key programmes such as ComLink and KidSTART will involve community partners, and help low-income families, including our Malay/Muslim families, achieve stability, self-reliance and social mobility.”


This article was originally featured in The Straits Times, published Mar 3, 2023

Children from lower-income families get priority enrolment in anchor operator pre-schools (channelnewsasia.com)

主要业者学前中心将优先录取较低收入家庭孩童

主要业者经营的学前教育中心将优先录取来自家庭月收入不超过 6000 元的孩童。

主要业者经营的学前教育中心已经从今年1月1日开始,优先录取来自家庭月收入不超过3000元,包括获得 KidSTART 和学前教育中心外展计划支持的儿童。即日起,来自家庭月收入不超过6000元的家庭的孩童也将享有优先录取权。

家长们通过学前教育中心搜索网站表明家庭月收入是否符合优先录取的资格标准,并表示有兴趣报名某间主要业者经营的学前教育中心后,业者就可以识别符合条件的孩童。

社会及家庭发展部政务部长孙雪玲今天(3日)在国会拨款委员会辩论部门开支预算时表示,希望较低收入的家长能通过这个更便利的报名流程,与当局合作,让他们的子女在三岁之前进入学前班。

KidSTART和学前教育中心外展工作人员也将继续与主要业者经营的学前教育中心密切合作,以促进较低收入家庭儿童 在三岁之前的入学率。

KidSTART将扩展到另外五个市镇

支助来自低收入家庭的六岁及以下孩童的KidSTART计划将在今年扩展到五个市镇,包括惹兰勿刹、大巴窑、盛港、后港和实龙岗。

KidSTART的目标是最迟在2026年,将计划扩展至全国时,让80%符合条件的孩童都加入计划。目前,有20%符合资格的孩童(超过6200名)已经加入KidSTART。

低收入家庭可获一站式援助

社区联系站(ComLink)提升服务,让住在租赁组屋的家庭将可以直接通过被配对的义工和工作人员,获得一站式援助。

从去年8月起,60户住在惹兰勿刹的租赁组屋家庭已经在提升服务下获益。

社会及家庭发展部高级政务次长蔡瑞隆指出,住在租赁组屋的家庭经常需要填写多份表格,到不同的部门重复他们的故事以获得帮助,对这些家庭造成混乱并增加他们的负担。当局将为每一户家庭配对工作人员,由工作人员单一协调所需的援助。

凝聚家庭社区推广计划将扩大

社会及家庭发展部长马善高宣布,为了鼓励亲家庭活动,到了今年底,凝聚家庭社区推广计划将从蔡厝港和义顺目前的两个市镇扩大到九个市镇,并最迟在 2025年扩展到所有市镇。

除了目前提供的婚姻和育儿活动,凝聚家庭社区推广计划还将提供婚姻指导和建立家长同伴互助小组。


This article was originally featured in 8world.com, published Mar 4, 2023

https://www.8world.com/singapore/cos-2023-msf-priority-enrolment-2070046

Tab Header幼儿培育辅助计划拟2026年扩展至全国

妊娠期糖尿病、哺乳、儿童发育阶段、产后忧郁症……这些在杜幸蔓17岁怀孕时,都是很陌生的。

杜幸蔓(19岁,餐饮业服务员工)坦言,当年对于新生命即将降临,她并没有做好准备。直到她怀孕35周到新加坡国立大学医院做产检时,在医生推荐下加入幼儿培育辅助计划(KidSTART)后,才开始学习如何照顾自己和新生儿。

政府2016年推出这项计划,旨在从前端开始为弱势家庭的六岁以下孩子与他们的家长提供帮助,包括在孩子出生前帮助母亲做好准备,以及向家长传授育儿知识。这个计划至今已为逾6200名低收入家庭孩童提供援助。

杜幸蔓的女儿在前年12月出世后,KidSTART的一名固定家访人员每月会登门一次。

“除了确保我女儿发育正常,家访人员也关心我的情况。起初我跟她说,我不重要,关心孩子就好了。但她告诉我,母亲是孩子的支柱,如果母亲状况不佳,孩子就没有人可依靠了。我这才明白,得把自己照顾好。”

家访人员也为她检查住家环境,查看是否有尖角、裸露的电线等可能危害孩童的东西,还帮她设置“安全区”供女儿玩耍。

女儿还不会爬时就会抓站起来,家访人员告诉她,幼儿跳过一个发育阶段可能影响成长,便教导她如何帮助女儿学习爬行。

“她教我如何让女儿趴下,把枕头垫在肚子下,引导她曲膝蹬脚。她就慢慢学会爬了。”

还有一回,女儿五个月大时,母女俩同时发高烧。女儿整晚哭闹,她又慌又担忧。“隔天,我打电话向家访人员求助。她说,是不是她在长牙?我才发现女儿提早长牙了。”

杜幸蔓十分感激家访人员在育儿过程中给予的各种帮助。“如果没有她,我这一路走来必定会更加艰难。”

接下来一年,辅助计划将陆续扩展至惹兰勿刹、大巴窑、盛港、后港以及实龙岗,目标是在2026年扩大到全国,让八成符合条件的孩童受惠。目前,符合条件的孩童只有两成获得帮助。


This article was originally featured in Lianhe Zaobao, published Mar 4, 2023

https://www.zaobao.com.sg/news/singapore/story20230304-1369016?session-refresh=1