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KidSTART Announces Nationwide Expansion from April 2024

By KidSTART Singapore February 20, 2024

KidSTART Announces Nationwide Expansion from April 2024

Singapore, 26 January 2024 – From 1 April 2024, KidSTART will be progressively expanded to 9 more towns – Hougang, Sengkang, Serangoon, Punggol, Tampines and Pasir Ris in 2024; with Queenstown, Clementi and Jurong East towns completing the nationwide reach in 2025.  The expansion will also see a streamlining of KidSTART service provision to be more family-centric, moving away from its previous segmented components provided at home, community and preschool settings involving multiple practitioners. Under the revised service model, pregnant mothers are supported at the KidSTART partner hospitals, and once the child is born, a KidSTART practitioner takes over by providing home-based support to the family on child development strategies until the child is 6 years old. 

This was announced on 26 January 2024 at the KidSTART Partners Townhall by KidSTART Singapore, a non-profit organisation specialising in supporting lower-income families with child development. Minister of State for Social and Family Development, Ms Sun Xueling, shared the positive evaluation outcomes of the KidSTART home visiting programme, based on an outcome evaluation study conducted by the Centre for Evidence and Implementation (CEI) and commissioned by the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA). By 12 months, parents and caregivers who received KidSTART home visitation had more positive, quality parent-child interactions; and were more confident in supporting their children’s development. By age 3, the KidSTART children showed improved social-emotional development. 

Under the revised service model, KidSTART will also be integrated with ComLink+, an initiative where the Government similarly partners the community and corporates to strengthen support for lower-income families in their journey towards stability, self-reliance, and social mobility. While KidSTART focuses on providing specialist child development and parenting support to families, ComLink+ family coaches serve as a consistent touchpoint for the families across various programmes. Family coaches will support families’ in addressing their children’s preschool enrolment, attendance, immunisation as well as help families navigate social support services as they work towards their longer-term goals.

Madam Rahayu Buang, Chief Executive Officer of KidSTART Singapore, said, “More than 8,500 children have benefitted from the KidSTART programme thus far. With the revised service model, we hope to impact more by supporting 80% of eligible children in every birth cohort by the time they reach 6 years old.  To do this, we are streamlining to one KidSTART practitioner per family, making it easier to form deeper relationships as practitioners journey with parents in their children’s development. The nationwide expansion will be implemented by a core partnership of 12 agencies – KidSTART Singapore, National University Hospital (NUH), KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) and nine social service agencies; supplemented by ComLink+ and other community and corporate partners. A family may be paired with a practitioner who is from KidSTART Singapore or from the KidSTART partner agency in the Social Service Office (SSO) town they are residing in.”  

Journeying with families as early as possible, from pregnancy

KidSTART is also offered at NUH and KKH when mothers attend their antenatal checks to reach out to pregnant mothers and their children as early as possible. According to the Growing Up in Singapore Towards healthy Outcomes (GUSTO) study by the National University Health System, KKH and NUH, and A*STAR, the well-being of mothers during pregnancy is linked to the child’s development in the womb and after birth. Positive maternal attitudes during pregnancy also influence school readiness and performance in a child’s later years. Studies also show that 90% of the brain develops by the time a child turns five, making this the most critical period for acquiring skills and knowledge. 

Mdm Rahayu said, “Upstream support in the early years has a lasting impact on children’s development and upward mobility in the long run. Families often place priority on child development after birth, but it should begin from pregnancy. Pregnant mothers who join KidSTART can expect regular check-ins on their physical and mental well-being as well as guidance on how to care for their newborn from KidSTART teams in the hospitals. After the child is born, KidSTART practitioners in the community continue with personalised guidance on their child’s early childhood development.

Rigorous, specialised training and mentorship for KidSTART Practitioners

The nationwide expansion of the KidSTART programme will require around 100 more practitioners to be hired in this year and undergo extensive training in areas of child development, health and social needs of children and families. All practitioners are full-time professionals, backed by mentors and a multi-disciplinary team of child experts.  

KidSTART practitioner Sivashankari D/O Ilangovan said “In the last few years I have been supporting children up to 3 years old only. So, I was worried about how I would be able to have the skills and knowledge to support children all the way till they are 6 years old. But the training has been helpful, as information shared was concise, meaningful, and bite-sized which made it easy to comprehend. We were able to participate in discussions where we reflected on best practices and whether certain approaches made sense to us on the ground as practitioners. Training was also hands-on involving role playing and guidance from mentors. The shift to the revised service model will be a learning journey for me but I feel confident that we will make a positive difference to the families.” 

Nationwide expansion progress of KidSTART

KidSTART programme started as a pilot for 1,000 children in 2016, and since then the programme has expanded to 15 Social Service Office (SSO) towns and will eventually serve eligible families in all 24 SSO towns by 2025.

S/N Year of commencementSSO towns Appointed KidSTART Agency 
12016KidSTART Pilot programme (under ECDA) in Kreta Ayer, Bukit Merah, Taman Jurong, Boon Lay, Geylang SeraiNIL 
22020Kreta Ayer, Bukit Merah, Taman Jurong, Boon Lay, Geylang Serai, Woodlands, Sembawang and BedokCare Corner Singapore Ltd, Singapore Children’s Society, Montfort Care and Tasek Academy and Social Services Limited (then known as Tasek Jurong Limited)
32021Ang Mo Kio, Yishun, Bukit Batok, Bukit Panjang and Choa Chu KangFei Yue Community Services and Allkin Singapore Limited (then known as AMKFSC Community Services)
42023 Jalan Besar and Toa PayohKampong Kapor Community Services
52024  Sengkang, Hougang and Serangoon NTUC First Campus Cooperative Ltd
Punggol TOUCH Community Services 
Tampines and Pasir Ris Care Corner Singapore Ltd 
62025Clementi, Queenstown and Jurong East Fei Yue Community Services 

KidSTART’s Service Model
Quotes by KidSTART practitioners and families

“My husband and I used to journey with different KidSTART practitioners as our children are of different ages. My oldest son was part of KidSTART @ Preschool, my second daughter is currently still part of KidSTART @ Home and we also had a hospital practitioner who ensured I was doing well as I was pregnant as well. Sometimes I do get confused about what I have shared with the practitioners before. I am looking forward to having Pearl, our KidSTART practitioner who visits us monthly at our home as a constant person in my journey of parenthood and in supporting my children. This makes it easier for us as we have lesser people to share information with about our children and will also be good for Pearl to be able to watch all my children grow up and be part of their important celebrations.” 
– Priya Latha D/O K Mahendran, KidSTART mother of three children

“For families who had different practitioners in their KidSTART journey, I had to work closely with the other practitioners to find out and also update them about the progress of the other children who were not my clients. It makes a lot of sense to deliver KidSTART’s service through a family-centric lens as it is less confusing for the families and it will help in more regular session attendance as they will only need to coordinate with one practitioner. On the practitioners’ end, it gives us an opportunity to build a deeper rapport and trust with the families and I look forward to journeying with the families I support.” 
– Pearl Goh, KidSTART practitioner, KidSTART Singapore

“The new KidSTART curriculum is built upon years of accumulated practice wisdom from our KidSTART practitioners since our programme piloted in 2016. We see child development as a continuing process across the ages and the revised curriculum is developed as a way to support practitioners in gaining skills and knowledge to journey with families from when the children are  born, till they reach six years old. They will be trained across topics such as child development, parent-child interactions, child health safety and nutrition and family wellbeing. It centres around fostering authentic relationships with families and building parenting confidence.This has worked well with KidSTART families.”
– Puspavalli Namasivayam, Early Childhood Consultant, KidSTART Singapore